What Became of North Skelton's Chapel ?

by Neil Harland

The old timber and corrugated iron chapel that was erected originally to satisfy the spiritual needs of the miners of North Skelton has long since gone and now the showroom of Boocock's Country Store stands upon the site.

The chapel now stands at Clitherbecks Farm and is used as a building to house livestock. I don't know much about the history of the building before it was removed except to say that it was a chapel and that it had fallen into disuse.

A friend of my father's, Mr. Lawrence Hauxwell of Skelton, was a joiner working for the builder, Norman Sykes, who had won the contract to redevelop the site. First of all the site had to be cleared, and, after a quick glance at the old chapel, the decision was made to subcontract this work, as quite often in those days, as well as in modern times, it can cost a large amount of money to clear a site safely. Lawrence was asked if he knew of anybody who could do the job and he said he would find out.

My father, Mr. David Harland, was at that time a farmer at Clitherbecks Farm, (or Doubting Castle depending which map you read), farming dairy cattle, sheep, pigs and hens, as did most farmers on the moors long before the Common Agricultural Policy polarised farmers into doing one thing or the other. Lawrence rang up my father to enquire if he knew of any farmers who could dismantle a building and remove it. My father, not being shy of hard work and seeing the potential in the building said that he knew the very chap.

Permission was quickly obtained from the Wykeham Estate, (who still own the farm), and in a letter dated the 3rd of August, 1966, permission was granted on the condition that the ‘tenant's fixture was erected tidily and in keeping with the other buildings on the holding’. So it was that shortly after my father paid the sum of 50 and began the task of taking down the building and removing it to the farm. I remember as a child riding on the tractor with my father as we went to North Skelton with a flatbed trailer and another tractor and trailer to bring home all the timber, window frames, doors, and other paraphernalia that had been the Chapel. It was a long job and it was dark by the time we returned to Danby. In the meantime, I am told that the builders felt that they had made a mistake in their initial appraisal of the building as there was much fine timber in there and they felt that my father had got himself a bargain.

Then began the job of reconstructing it on the farm. The midden pit was cleared and fine foundations laid. The major supports of the building were erected with the help of Mr. 'Dickie' Tyerman of Houlsyke and Mr. Eric Stainthorpe of Hutton Mulgrave lending a hand. I don't remember how long it took but I do know that we have a fine building still standing. Shortly after, my sisters, who were all teenagers by that time, had a party and I remember the interior of the building was covered in psychedelic posters, it being the 1960’s of course. After that it reverted to being a shed, where on the ground floor cattle were housed in the winter months. At this time my father had sold his dairy herd of cattle and had bought into beef cattle. Our neighbour, John Henton, welded some stands into the concrete floor for each beast, and hay was fed from the hayloft that had been built as a first floor above.

The years went by and my father gave up the beef herd and now the farm has solely sheep. Some modification has been made to the hayracks and feeders accordingly but apart from these small changes it is as my father built it in the 60’s. I am now the farmer at Clitherbecks, but in these days of CAP and quotas it is nothing else than a 'hobby farm' and is mainly subsidised by a day job through which I met Norma, the editor of 'The Key' and this article is the result. I hope that it has 'shed' some light onto the whereabouts and use of your old Chapel.

Neil Harland

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