Lastingham Church Crypt

St Marys church at Lastingham, North Yorkshire is remarkable on a number of counts, the crypt said to be the only complete crypt in the UK was built by St Stephen between 1078 and 1086. It contains decorated stone fragments which go back to the eight century. The first church here served the monastery founded by St Cedd in 659, it is from this early period that we find Lastinghams greatest enigma. It wasnt easy to convert the English to Christianity Pope Gregory the Great issued some very novel instructions to make this happen. Do not destroy pagan temples but convert them to Christian use so that the people will feel more comfortable coming there, if the people insist on sacrificing an animal let them do it, just so long as they sacrifice it to God. Both of these are to be found in a letter from Pope Gregory to Abbot Melitus who had come to England with St Augustine, the letter is dated 601 and is quoted in Bedes Historia Eccleslastica. St Cedd died of the plague here in 664 ad and is buried to the right of the altar.
Text by permission of Heritage Action from an article by Colin Coulson