Restoring Selby Abbey: The Challenge We Face
The great Norman Abbey of Selby, founded by William the Conqueror in 1069, has been placed in jeopardy many times in its 950 year history. The North Yorkshire Abbey, which rivals the great English cathedrals in size and historical significance, is one of the few monastic foundations to have survived the Reformation and vandalism by both the armies of Charles I and Oliver Cromwell.
Although it has withstood centuries of political and religious upheaval as well as fire and flooding, the Abbey's limestone has been eaten away by pollution over time. Continuous repair and renovations have been carried out but inspections in 2000 revealed the full scale of the deterioration. Carvings, both inside and out, and extensive areas of high level stonework were found to have been eroded and much intricate tracery had been lost.
In 2002, Selby Abbey was included in the World Monuments Watch List of The World's 100 Most Endangered Historic Sites and an appeal was launched for £4.5 million estimated to be the cost of restoring the Abbey's exterior fabric. The appeal was supported by English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Robert Wilson Trust New York, and many other charitable trusts, local businesses and private individuals. Other major donors were The Pilgrim Trust, The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Alan Evans Trust, The Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust, The National Churches Trust, The Headley Trust and Drax Power Ltd. Thanks to the generosity of our many supporters, the final appeal target was reached in July 2008.
It is inevitable that time and the elements will adversely affect the fabric of a building as old as the Abbey. A maintenance and repair programme will always be required. Our biggest challenge is that, with no endowment to fall back on, finance for each new project has to come from dedicated fundraising. Since 2012, we have been concentrating our efforts on the interior of the Abbey.
Recently Completed Works
Stonework restoration of the Western Bays of the South Choir Aisle £482,000
Restoration of the Scriptorium and Choir School, including pinnacles and gargoyles £800,000
The stonework restoration of the Eastern Bays of the South Choir Aisle £400,000
Re-glazing of the fourteenth century Washington Window costs met in full by The British American Tobacco Company £35,000
Replacement of Heating System £120,000
Restoration and re-glazing of the great East Window and restoration of the East End £545,000
Restoration of the Latham Chapel and North Choir Aisle £1,1 million
West End restoration £587,000
Abbots' Tomb Slabs £16,000
Choir Lighting £12,000
Bell Augmentation and Tower Safety Works £38,000
Upgrading of the Electrical System £190,000
Installation of a modern Lavatory Facility £80,000
Conservation and repair of the medieval North Porch £220,000
Restoration and Repair of Hill organ (ongoing) £520,000
Conservation and Relocation of Norman Font (ongoing) £49,000
Repair of Carillon (ongoing) £25,000
Our Current Projects
The Organ Appeal
In June 2012, we launched a major appeal to raise the estimated £520,000 needed to restore and repair the Abbey’s world famous Hill organ. Now, less than three years later, we are close to reaching our target and the first phase of a restoration programme has already begun. Subject to funding, the whole project is due to be completed in the spring of 2016, For further details of the organ appeal, please go to www.selbyabbeyorganappeal.org.uk.
Artist impression of relocated Norman Font in the Nave Aisle
The Conservation of the Norman Font
Our stone Norman Font is currently situated in an awkward location and is in need of repair. Its superb ten foot medieval wooden cover, much of it original, also requires careful conservation. The cost of the project is £49,000. Once completed, our aim is to move the font to the centre of the nave aisle so that this important artefact has a greater liturgical and architectural prominence within the Abbey. Our aspiration is to complete the project by December 2015.
Repairing the Carillon
The Abbey has a Carillon in the clock tower which has not been working since before the turn of the Millennium. The device dates from 1909 and is a rare piece of equipment, one of only two in the country. The Carillon used to play a hymn on the bells at three hourly intervals each day with a different hymn for each day of the week. We are keen to repair the Carillon so that Selby town can enjoy hearing it ring out again. The repair work is estimated to cost £25,000.
With Your Support
Selby Abbey has survived and will continue to survive because so many people care about its future. The Abbey fascinates historians, delights visitors, inspires artists and fills the towns-people with pride. It provides comfort and joy to all those who worship here because, above all, Selby Abbey continues to perform its primary function as a parish church.
SO MUCH HAS ALREADY BEEN ACCOMPLISHED BUT WE NEED YOUR HELP TO CONTINUE TO PRESERVE THIS BEAUTIFUL ABBEY CHURCH FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS TO ENJOY
For further details on all our projects and for ways that you can help, please make contact with the Appeal Office:
Brigadier Jeremy Gaskell OBE
Selby Abbey Appeal Office
The Rose House
Tel No: 01653 697320
Alternatively contact the Abbey Office tel no. 01757 703123 or firstname.lastname@example.org