News and Diary


news & diary


COVID-19 AND THE CHURCHES : To those Friends who feel concern for the ongoing life of worship and communality centred upon St Gregory's Minster during this time of stringent control upon public gatherings, the Trustees of the Friends of St Gregory's Minster commend the online presence for the Minster and the whole Benefice in worship, prayer, reflection and instruction, newly established by the Vicar, the Revd Susan Binks, in collaboration with other clergy and members of the congregation. Please see the pages on this website (menu to the left of screen) devoted to the several churches of the Benefice: St Gregory's Minster Kirkdale, St Hilda Beadlam, Saint Saviour Harome, St John the Baptist Pockley, and All Saints and Saint James Nunnington.






Professor Gordon Leff, R.I.P

It is with sadness that we have to record the death of our Patron, Professor Emeritus Gordon Leff (b. 1926), known to many friends as 'Bunny' Leff. Gordon was among the earliest academics to be appointed (1965) at the new University of York, where he was Professor in the Department of History and a co-founder of the Centre for Medieval Studies. His numerous publications ranged over the history of philosophy from antiquity through the Middle Ages, the history of the Western Church and studies of the great shapers of medieval thought. After his retirement in 1988 he continued to pursue research, writing and publication; and he was justly proud to be completing, just a couple of years ago, a history of western philosophy in several volumes. He developed a long-standing interest in, and affection for St Gregory's Minster and felt genuinely honoured when he was invited to become one of the Patrons of the Friends. Though increasing infirmity made it difficult for him to get over to Kirkdale he followed with interest and encouragement the thriving and development of the Friends' activities led by the Trustees, and he was always delighted to receive visitors from Kirkdale. He leaves behind him an admirable legacy of scholarship and the memory of a kindly and ever-courteous colleague and friend.


Abbot Cuthbert Madden

Following his retirement as Abbot of Ampleforth, Dom Cuthbert Madden has decided to step down as a Patron of the Friends of St Gregory's Minster. He has accordingly written to the Chairman, expressing all good wishes to us in our commitment to the care of St Gregory's Minster. The Chairman has replied thanking the Abbot for his interest in our work.


The Trustees will be considering proposals for two new Patrons in due course.




The newly-designed Limited Edition Mug, illustrated below, is now available.

For further information, see the Current Newsletter.





The next intended meeting of the Trustees (3rd April 2020) has been cancelled in the light of the Government's 'social distancing' strategies during the current pandemic. No date has yet been considered for resumption of Trustees' meetings.


The joint Kirkdale/Lastingham Friends' excursion & pilgrimage to Ripon Cathedral on Friday 24th April 2020, as announced in the respective parish and benefice magazines, has most regretfully been cancelled out of concern for the spread of the Covid19 virus. It is firmly intended that the visit shall be rearranged when public health circumstances are once more normalised.








For preliminary notice of the 2020 Kirkdale Lecture, AND INFORMATION ABOUT THE IMPACT OF THE COVID19 VIRUS please click on 'The Kirkdale Lecture' in the menu on the left.




Dear Friend

We certainly do live in interesting times, to put it mildly!  When I began preparing this Newsletter there was no hint of the changes we are all now required to make in our lives to combat the Corona Virus.  (It is such a pretty name for such a dangerous organism.)  It hardly needs me to tell you that everything has had to be cancelled (I prefer to say “postponed”) for safety reasons.  The Joint Outing to Ripon on Friday 24th April has been postponed until the autumn, along with the activities for the Friends’ Weekend on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th May.  A Friends’ Half Weekend  (ie AGM and Kirkdale Lecture) is planned to transfer to Saturday 5th September, to be followed by the Patronal Festival (and pre-booked luncheon) on Sunday 6th September – if of course we are allowed to hold public meetings and church services, and attend restaurants by then.  Details will be forthcoming in due course.

The Reverend Susan Binks has asked me if I would be able to let you have the following information: she writes “Sunday Services have been suspended until further notice following the guidance of the Archbishops.  Until the Sunday Services resume I would like to highlight my pattern of saying the Daily Office – Morning and Evening Prayer, and all are invited to send by email (  or telephone (01439 770523) prayers to include.  Each Sunday I will say Morning or Evening Prayer in the Benefice Churches as follows: 9am at St Saviour’s; 10am at St Hilda’s; 11am at St Gregory’s; Midday Prayer at Nunnington; 4pm Evening Prayer at Pockley. During the week I will say Morning and Evening Prayer as follows: Monday at St Hilda’s – Prayers at 9am and 5pm; Tuesday at St Saviour’s – Prayers at 9am and 5pm; Wednesday at Nunnington – Prayers at 9am and 5pm; Thursday at St Gregory’s – Prayers at 9am and 5pm; Saturday at Pockley – Prayers at 9am and 5pm. Blessings.”  To be so remembered is a blessing indeed – thank you, Susan.

I was delighted to be able to meet four of our newest Friends recently – Gary and Julie, and Keith and Laura.  You are very welcome; my colleagues and I send our very best wishes, and I look forward to the time when we are able to meet again. 

Some weeks ago a Friend remarked to me that society seemed to be getting more unkind by the minute, and that “loving-kindness” (to use one of my favourite phrases) seemed to be getting very thin on the ground, or in some cases and places, completely lacking.  From what I have seen and heard recently “loving-kindness” IS still with us – not only neighbours but complete strangers are offering genuine and practical help to those near and far who, because of the Corona Virus, are isolated and helpless. It comforts me that in times of crisis people will help each other – it’s sad that there are those too scared to think straight who are panic-buying! People of all creeds and colours are going out of their way to give help to those in need, and I, for one, applaud and thank them – as I do the health professionals working so hard in hospitals and health centres, and indeed all persons going out of their way to help those in most need.    

It may seem trivial, in the current circumstances to mention this, but as ever, may I draw your attention to the exquisite Limited Edition Mugs which are available for sale.  Contact me by email on or by phone on 01723 850558 (answer-phone available) for more information.  To order a mug online go to

Thank you for being a Friend and for supporting St Gregory’s Minster in the various ways you do – all of which are greatly appreciated.

Keep safe, keep hopeful and helpful, and remember this will pass eventually,

Sincerely, and with my very best wishes for your good health,

Heather Harris

Chairman; Tel: 01723 850558; email:













St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne                                         Romanesque wall-painting in the Galilee Chapel in Durham Cathedral

The Feast Day of Gregory the Great, Kirkdale's Patron, is September 3rd.

The Feast Day of Cuthbert of Lindisfarne is March 20th.

October is the month for commemoration of a little cluster of worthies of relevance to the early (Anglo-Saxon) Northumbrian Church and the first centuries of St Gregory's Minster.

On 10 October the Church commemorates Paulinus, the bishop who led the Christian mission from Canterbury to York in 627. On 11 October Ethelburga is remembered - the already baptised queen of king Edwin who, urged by Pope Boniface, assisted Paulinus in Edwin’s conversion. On 12 October remembrance is made of Wilfrid, bishop of York and builder of Ripon and Hexham churches, the ancient crypts of which still survive and can be viewed.

On 13 October the Church honours the king whose name appears in the Anglo-Saxon inscription on Kirkdale’s ancient sundial. It was in Eadward dagum cyning - ‘in the days of king Edward’ - that Orm Gamalson rebuilt the ruined St Gregory’s Minster. This king Edward was Edward the Confessor (died 1066) who founded Westminster Abbey.

York Minster publishes the current Calendar online

(Search York Minster Service Scheme).