Old St Stephen's Church, Fylingdales

I called at Old St Stephen’s Church at Fylingdales, North Yorkshire. It only dates from 1822 (though the pews, font and chancel may date from an earlier occupation), the word ‘old’ contrasting it with the later, Victorian edifice to be found at nearby Robin Hood’s Bay which effectively replaced it. When an Anglo-Catholic vicar despaired of this decidedly protestant building, he thankfully decided to go and build that replacement rather than horribly adapt St Stephen’s. We have here a wonderful example of Protestant Anglicanism, a somewhat rare breed of ecclesiastical theology.

See how plain it is; no gaudy stained glass, no statues, no unnecessary ecclesiastic clutter. There are no distractions from the sermon here.


See how the giant pulpit dominates the room; several pews have their backs to the altar, so insignificant was its usage. These folk congregated to hear the Bible preached, not to eat wafers or to observe endless ceremonial.


See how many pews there are. This was designed to be a preaching house. And what happens when God’s word is preached? People come. And more people come. The church was designed to accommodate as many as possible, which is why a large gallery occupies two sides of wall.


See how the plain glass of the windows compliment the internal space. Bright, natural light aids the reading of the Bible, unhindered by garish colours and the dull stares of static saints.

The spectacular views outside of the windows cannot be fully appreciated by those within, but upon exiting the building, the congregants must surely have marvelled at the Creator’s largesse, about whose workings and ways the parson had been waxing from his giant pulpit.


Old St Stephen's preached a far older, more wonderful gospel of hope and life.