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Anger in village where classic BBC series All Creatures Great And Small centers on plans to whitewash historic 15th-century church tower and make it ‘look like a lighthouse’



Villagers have voiced plans to whitewash a 15th-century church tower and make it ‘look like a lighthouse’.

St Oswald’s Church in Askrigg, North Yorkshire, is the centerpiece of the Dales village where the original hit TV series All Creatures Great and Small was filmed.

The church has suffered from damp problems for years and authorities have been given permission to renovate the Grade II listed tower and cover it with white lime paint to tackle the problem.

The Anglican Diocese, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and Historic England have supported the rendering process as the most appropriate way to protect the historic church.

Authorities have granted permission to cover St. Oswald’s Church in Askrigg, North Yorkshire, with whitewash
The Anglican Diocese, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and Historic England have supported the rendering process as the most appropriate way to protect the historic church

But 431 people have signed a petition to ‘stop renovating the church bell tower’.

One resident described it as ‘desecration’, adding: ‘It’s like putting a lighthouse in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales.’

The planning permission dating from 2019, when a public consultation took place, is said to still be valid.

But images showing what the tower could look like have caused new alarm.

The artistic impressions of the church’s new look were created by local resident Steven Harrington.

He said: ‘Personally I think it will look terrible. They have said that the color will now be a shade darker, but will still stand out and look completely out of place.’

Resident Val Halton said: ‘Our church tower is damp and needs significant work to make it watertight. Various remedies have been proposed and many discussions between the Church and experts and the public have been ruled out.

‘About three weeks ago a public meeting was held to tell the local community what was going to happen; it was a done deal.

‘There has been no public consultation; our church tower would be made white. The experts admitted that the rendering was a “first” and no one could say whether it would work. Builders had suggested other options, but they were ignored.”

She said the scaffolding has already gone up and “the village is desperate.”

Askrigg was used to film the original BBC series of James Herriot’s books about life as a vet in the Dales. Buildings in the village included the Drovers Arms pub and Skeldale House, where he lived and worked.

A spokesperson for the Anglican Diocese said: ‘Alterations that affect the appearance of a Grade II listed church are not readily permitted, so the need to protect the building from water intrusion and damage from its exposed position was very carefully considered before permission was given.

‘External rendering is a traditional process appropriate to a historic building, as confirmed by several consulted local and national specialist conservation experts.’

The church is the centerpiece of the Dales village, where the original hit TV series All Creatures Great and Small was filmed
The cast of BBC’s All Creatures Great and Small. From left to right: Peter Davison, Robert Hardy, Carol Drinkwater and Christopher Timothy

The petition, started by local resident Emma Brooke, said the rendering would ‘stick out like a sore thumb and be completely out of keeping with the surrounding area.’

Villager Linda Dodsworth commented on social media that it would “look like a lighthouse on the other side of the valley.”

Adding: ‘National parks have lost all their credibility, you can’t change your windows or have purple composite doors but you can paint a Norman church any color you want!’

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