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Mindless vandalism damages ‘remarkable’ Knaresborough chapel

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Mindless vandals have damaged a historic Grade I listed chapel in Knaresborough.

North Yorkshire Police are appealing for information after a medieval window was smashed at the Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag, on Abbey Road beside the Nidd Gorge.

The chapel is cut out of the sandstone of the river gorge cliff face. It was built as an orartory – a place for prayer – possibly by a master mason known as ‘John Mason’ in 1409. It was listed Grade I in 1952, and is described by Historic England as “remarkable”. Today it is cared for and maintained by a charitable trust.

Unfortunately, some time between the afternoon of Sunday 8 September and Tuesday 10 September 2019, a grill was ripped off a stained glass window, the window smashed and a door handle broken.

The window was medieval, dating back to around the 14th century. In order to smash it, a purpose-made metal mesh grill protecting the window was ripped off and a large boulder thrown at it.

The window frame, leaded separators and glass are now being sent to conservators to see if they can be salvaged and repaired.

Officers from Knaresborough’s Neighbourhood Policing Team have attended the scene and enquiries are ongoing. Patrols have been increased in the area, and officers are urging anyone with information about the incident to get in touch.

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police said: “This mindless vandalism has damaged an extremely special place that is an important and unique part of Knaresborough’s history. The whole community will rightly be shocked and saddened by this incident. Someone will know who is responsible, so we would urge them to do the right thing and contact the police.”

If you have information that could assist the investigation, please call North Yorkshire Police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Please quote reference number 12190168226.

North Yorkshire has thousands of priceless heritage sites like the Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag – they’re a big part of the reason why it’s such a wonderful place to live and visit.

North Yorkshire Police support Heritage Watch schemes, which aim to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour at historic sites. By protecting our shared heritage, we can ensure these sites will continue to be enjoyed for many years to come.

Supporters are asked to be aware of where the heritage sites are in their communities, keep an eye out for them, and report any concerns to the police on 101, or 999 if a crime is in progress. Find out more about Heritage Watch at www.northyorkshire.police.uk/heritagewatch

Last modified: September 30, 2019