St. Aidan

St. Aidan's Cottage; a fascinating history

St Aidan’s is not your average holiday cottage.  This sympathetically renovated church in the tiny hamlet of Carlton, just outside Helmsley, owes its existence to an inspirational Victorian figure, Helmsley’s legendary Vicar Gray.  Here owner Harriet Walsh tells the story behind St Aidan’s Luxury Holiday Cottage near Helmsley.

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“Vicar Gray was a force to be reckoned with…"

St Aidan’s took time off recently to become the venue for a tea party for 40 people, as part of the celebrations of the life of an inspirational Victorian figure, Helmsley’s legendary Vicar Gray. St Aidan’s Church exists today because of Vicar Gray.  He arrived like a whirlwind in Helmsley in the late nineteenth century and spent the next 40 years putting the place to rights.

Amongst his other activities, Vicar Gray was a tireless builder of churches, often contributing to the necessary funds himself, and not at all shy of using his forceful personality to persuade everyone to get involved. From the Earl of Feversham at Duncombe Park, to lowly members of his congregation, all of the Vicar’s acquaintance got to put in their share.

Temple Lushington Moore

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In 1886 Vicar Gray asked young architect Temple Lushington Moore to design a new church at Carlton near Helmsley. The final cost was £532 and it's clear Moore relished his first solo commission. Temple Lushington Moore went on to be one of the top church architects of his day.

He worked on many lovely little buildings in what is now the North York Moors National Park and they are in some fantastic locations.  

There is a website and free app at where you can find out more about where they all are, and the history behind them. It makes a great starting point for exploring the moors. 

St Aidan’s today; a beautiful Luxury Holiday Cottage

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Today I wonder what Temple Moore would make of the stylish extension to his tiny church which lets the light flood in and provides this unique accommodation with a modern kitchen, bathroom, wet-room and sitting room.   

Staying at St Aidan’s is mesmerising – the walls are steeped in history, the stained glass casts jewel-bright light across original church fittings and up-cycled pews.  The outdoor space is private and calm – a perfect retreat.  

In fact you might spend so long discovering every beautiful detail you might never get around to following the rest of the Temple Moor Trail!  We think St Aidan’s Luxury Holiday Cottage near Helmsley is one of the finest church conversions in Yorkshire – do you know of better?

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