Coverham is a small village approximately 3km’s from Middleham in the Yorkshire Dales. Mentioned in the Doomsday book, we know that in 1086, the local lord was Count Alan (of Brittany) who had founded Richmond and Middleham Castles a few years earlier.
The medieval village, which lay to the south no longer shows much trace of its existence and whilst it is a quiet and retiring place today, it was busy in the 19th century.
This is when labourers, including lead miners and agricultural workers made it their home. The population declined into the 20th century, with Holy Trinity Church and the ruins of Coverham Abbey still proudly gracing the beautiful landscape.
Holy Trinity Church
Holy Trinity Church dates to the 13th century, although it retains evidence of Anglo Saxon masonry, speaking to the fact that there could have been Christian worship on this site for over 1000 years.
The nave dates to this time, with the south aisle added in the 14th century, and the tower in the 15th/16th.
You can view part of an Anglo Saxon cross as you enter through the main door.
It is above the door and acts as a door lintel, and another treasure you can view is a 14th century Piscina.
The church was heavily restored in Victorian times, and much of the stained glass is from this period.
This is excluding a small surviving collection of medieval glass in the south aisle windows, possibly dating to the 14th century.
In 1854 the chancel was rebuilt and in 1878 the box pews were removed, the north wall of the nave was rebuilt and beautiful tiles were put in which remain in place today.
In September 1985, the church was ceased to be used for regular worship and shortly after was placed in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.
I visited on a cold, miserable day in November, and was struck by how isolated this
parish church is. It made sense once I learned that there used to be a medieval village here.
I enjoyed trudging through the fallen colourful leaves and exploring the large churchyard, which has beautiful atmospheric views across the valley, it was a real privilege to have it to ourselves.
Many local people have been buried in the churchyard with connections to the local horse racing industry.
You can also view the remains of Coverham Abbey from the churchyard, some of which were converted into a Tudor and then 17th century house.
I learned recently that Holy Trinity has been added as a ‘Champing’ church, meaning you can sleep between its walls.
I am not sure how I feel about this, or whether I would survive the night! – but if this appeals to you, here’s a link with more information.
If you would like to see more of my photos from my visit to Coverham, please visit my flickr