St Aidan's was built in 1886, the first solo work of the late Gothic Revival architect Temple Lushington Moore when he was a young man in his mid-twenties. It is the only one of Temple Moore's churches that you can stay in. Temple Moore went on to build more than forty churches and is considered to be one of Victorian England's greatest church architects.
Much of his early work was done in the North York Moors - and the churches are in some great locations. Temple Moore spotting makes a good starting point for exploring the North York Moors National Park. The Temple Moore Trail lists all the locations and has more info about Temple Moore, the Gothic Revival, the wonderful Vicar Gray of Helmsley, and of course St Aidans.
Rescuing St Aidan's in 2010 was a challenge. It is Grade II* listed and a treasured example of a building that sits within two influences, the Gothic Revival and the Arts and Crafts movement. It has many admirers at English Heritage, the Victorian Society, and SPAB, all of whom were consulted.
St Aidan's is important because of the survival of the complete building with all its fixtures and fittings designed by Temple Moore, in their original state. When you stay at St Aidan's you will see the original suite of internal furnishings and decoration:
- Painted and stencilled wagon roof
- Stone topped altar with beautiful painting, stencilling and gilding
- Painted chancel screen
- Font and pews designed by Temple Moore
- Painted cupboards for prayer books and robes
- Painted tower screen
The furnishings exhibit a high degree of craftsmanship and individual design and we learned from the listing that their level of survival at St Aidan's is exceptional. We've used rich, deep colours in the church to complement the original scheme, making a cosy and atmospheric retreat.
The original paintwork on the furnishings has not been touched in 130 years. The painted ceiling was carefully cleaned, by hand, using conservation techniques. It was wonderful to see the design emerge from so many years accumulation of dust, just as it was on the day it was finished in 1886.
The wall colour has been restored to the original rich and vibrant scheme designed by Temple Moore. We carefully scraped away the overpainting to find the original colourscheme and matched with modern paints.
We discovered that the colours were very typical of the time. Just as Gothic Revival architects looked to forms and patterns from mediaeval times for their buildings - pointed arches, steeply sloping roofs, and decorative tracery - they looked to the rich colours of mediaeval paintings and textiles to decorate their buildings.
The Gothic Revival architect GF Bodley was a recognised colourist who took Renaissance patterns, silks and velvet as references and used a deep indian red so extensively that it became known as 'Bodley red'. This is the colour that is used at St Aidan's, together with a deep olive green. Temple Moore knew Bodley, so we think that the painted decoration at St Aidan's also shows his influence.
There's a copy of the definitive work on Temple Moore, by Geoff Brandwood, in the bookcase at St Aidan's.