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Mount Grace Priory - credit English Heritage

Osmotherley and Mount Grace

Explore handsome Osmotherley and its surroundings on a 3¼ -mile circular walk that touches every aspect of the village’s rich religious past. The village itself has both medieval church and 18th-century Methodist chapel, while following field and woodland paths to the northwest leads to the impressive ruins of Mount Grace Priory – the best-preserved Carthusian remains in the country. Returning to Osmotherley along a section of the Cleveland Way National Trail, you then have the option of calling in at The Lady Chapel, a place of Catholic pilgrimage for over 600 years – beautifully set on a hillside with sweeping views over Bilsdale, Teesside and the Pennines. Osmotherley is a noted walking centre – on the Cleveland Way and at the start of the Lyke Wake Walk – so there’s no shortage of places to rest up afterwards, including three pubs for a population of just a few hundred!

Walk info

Great for:
history buffs, family walks
Length:
3¼ miles (5.2km)
Time:
3 hours
Start/Finish:
Osmotherley market cross
Grid Ref:
SE 456 973
OS Map:
Ordnance Survey OL26
Refreshments:
Osmotherley
Toilets:
Start/Finish of the walk

About this walk

Once out of the village, the walk mainly follows field and woodland paths. There’s a steep descent/ascent in the woods en route to Mount Grace Priory, and two stiles to negotiate. The return route climbs a short track to The Lady Chapel, and then returns via track and road to Osmotherley .

Please note that the track to the chapel is privately owned by the Diocese of Middlesbrough, and access is by their kind permission. The track is rough and uneven in parts and may be muddy after rain.

Please keep your dog on a short fixed lead near livestock. Dogs are allowed in the priory grounds, but should be kept on a lead. Dogs must be kept on a lead at all times in the chapel grounds, and are not permitted inside the chapel (except for guide dogs).

Mount Grace Priory

Set in grass- and woodland north of Osmotherley are the well-preserved ruins of Mount Grace Priory – one of only ten Carthusian priories in the entire country, and the easiest to reach. Built and developed between 1400 and 1523, it housed just twenty or so monks at its height (plus lay brothers, who ran the business affairs of the priory), with the resident monks living silent, solitary lives. They came together only to pray in the priory church, spending the rest of their time in individual cells – more like tiny cottages set in walled gardens, one of which has been reconstructed to offer an insight into their reclusive ways.

In the 17th century the ruins of the priory guest house were remodelled as a mansion, which was renovated at the turn of the 20th century in an Arts and Crafts style. If you’re lucky perhaps you’ll also see the priory stoats – there’s a colony that inhabits the passages under the priory!

The Lady Chapel

The hilltop Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Grace is better known locally as The Lady Chapel. It was built by Carthusian monks from nearby Mount Grace Priory in the 15th century, probably as a private place of worship for their own use. After the dissolution of Mount Grace in 1539 the chapel fell into ruins, but continued to be a place of Catholic pilgrimage through the 17th and 18th centuries – John Wesley, visiting Osmotherley in 1745, remarked on its ‘poor remains’. When Mount Grace Priory passed into the hands of the National Trust in the 1950s, The Lady Chapel was put into the care of a trust charged with its restoration, and work started in 1959, using stone from Rosedale Abbey. You can still make out the stones of the original chapel, along with various inscriptions, some dating back to the 17th century. The chapel is now the Diocesan Shrine for the Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough, with regular masses and services taking place all year – as they have done on this site for 600 years.

The chapel is open daily, but visitors are reminded that it is a place of worship and reflection and are asked to respect its sacred nature. Please take away all litter from the grounds.

Osmotherley’s stone table

The low stone table on Osmotherley village green, next to the market cross, has two tales to tell. Quite how old it is, no one knows, though it was long used by market traders and coffin carriers. But we do know roughly when someone stood on it – namely John Wesley, the preacher, who came to Osmotherley on over a dozen occasions after 1745, recording his visits in his diaries. He brought the word of God to the locals, standing outside to preach until the Methodist Chapel was built in 1754.