St Aelred, 1110 – 1167, is linked with the Cistercian abbey of Rievaulx in North Yorkshire, founded in 1131, of which he became abbot from 1147 until his death. As the head of a large Christian community, St Aelred guided his monks to live their fraternity with each other in the light of their friendship with Christ, enabling them to live a community life in truth and love. His wisdom holds out great light for our days too.

It is no small consolation in this life to have someone you can unite with you in an intimate affection and the embrace of a holy love, someone in whom your spirit can rest, to whom you can pour out your soul, to whose pleasant exchanges, as to soothing songs, you can fly in sorrow, to those in whose friendship, amidst the many troubles of the world, you can safely retire. … A man who can shed tears with you in your worries, be happy with you when things go well, search out with you the answers to your problems, whom with the ties of charity you can lead into the depths of your heart.The parish of St Aelred.In 1892 it was reported that over 100 new houses have been built in Starbeck in three years. Starbeck at that time was a separate village between Harrogate and Knaresborough.

The parish of St Aelred’s was founded in 1910 when Fr A Saxton of St Roberts celebrated Mass in the Old Hall, High Street Starbeck with an attendance of 32 people. The numbers increased rapidly and the first church dedicated to St Aelred of Rievaulx in the Diocese of Leeds was built in 1912 to hold about 150 people.  Fr Austin Saxton having engaged W H H Marten to design the Lady Chapel at his church St Robert’s now employed him for the new church of St Aelred to accommodate the growing population of Starbeck.

The church was a neat, neo-gothic building, but with reference to Marten’s Arts and Crafts with hand-made bricks, stone dressings and external rendering.In 1957 a new church was built, next to the old, large enough to accommodate the increasing congregation, designed by R S Ronchetti and was opened by Fr F J Bennett. The foundation stone was laid by the then Bishop of Leeds J C Heenan who went on to become Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster.

The church is cruciform in shape and has a lofty appearance under a severe ceiling. From the west door there is a clear view to the sanctuary and the altar. The ceiling was specially designed and constructed to provide an acoustically perfect baffle for all sound and for Mass and other services conducted within the sanctuary to be heard without difficulty at the west doors. The church is designed to hold 300 people.

The layout of the church has hardly altered since it was built. The Baptismal font has moved from the rear of the church to the front and the Altar rails have been moved. In 1992 the Lady Chapel, on the north side of the church, became an adoration chapel for the Blessed Sacrament. New stained glass windows for this chapel were designed as a Parish Millennium Project and added in 2001.

The old church continued to be used as a parish hall, and in 1993 was refurbished; a new kitchen and new toilets being built on to the original structure. This building continues to support many parish activities.The parish, one of three Catholic parishes in the town, serves the eastern side of Harrogate as well as the wider Catholic community and also the chaplaincy at the Harrogate District Hospital.

There have been three presbyteries. The first was 122, Stonefall Avenue. It then moved to the bungalow next to the church on Woodlands Drive. The present presbytery, 71 Woodlands Drive, was built in 1956. The first parish priest was Fr Thomas Parkin who came out of semi-retirement in 1912 and moved in to 122 Stonefall Avenue. The following subsequently served as Parish Priest of St Aelred’s:

Fr John Brennan 1913 – 1936
Fr John Flynn 1936 – 1944
Fr Bernard Blackburn 1944 – 1951
Fr Vincent Durkin 1951 – 1955
Fr Frederick Bennett 1955 – 1960
Fr Michael Pierse 1960 – 1977
Fr Brian O’Reilly 1977 – 1978
Fr William Bryson 1978 – 1987
Fr Lawrence Hulme 1987 – 1991
Fr Michael Sullivan 1991 – 1997
Fr David Massey 1997 – 2000
Fr Richard Aladics 2000 – 2004
Fr Jim Leavy 2004 –

In 1995 the Rev. David Arblaster became a permanent Deacon of the parish.

The first Baptism was Sylvia

Crompton on 6 April 1913 she was 1 month old. On 10 October 1937 the first confirmations took place when Bishop Henry John Poskitt confirmed 42 people, 24 girls & 18 boys. The first wedding took place on 26 December 1940 when Percival Richard Todd, a Knaresborough man, married Helen Brennan of Starbeck.St Aelred, pray for us.The original church (c. 1944) – now the Parish HallSt Aelred’s Parish Church and Hall.

What we Do

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

The Blessed Sacrament is exposed in a side chapel between 8.00am and 10pm each weekday. Any member of the community is able to call into the church and join in adoration. Adoration began in 1993 and involves not only our Parishioners but those from neighbouring churches. There are approximately eighty people who currently offer an hour or more each week on a rota basis, so that adoration of the Blessed Sacrament might remain at the heart of the parish's weekly activity. May God continue to bless us with this gift.

Altar Service

This service can be offered by any young person in the parish who has made his or her First Holy Communion. The servers support the parish priest at the celebration of Holy Mass. They also offer their support on feast days. New servers are offered basic training before they serve at a Mass. Rev David Arblaster 560279.

Banner Group

The Banner Group has been meeting for more than ten years, and have made banners for all liturgical seasons. The liturgical banners hang on either side of the altar, and for each set there is a co-ordinating altar cloth. A variety of materials and media are used in making the banners. We welcome newcomers and new ideas. News of future projects will appear in the bulletin.


Brownies meet every Wednesday during term-time in the church hall from 6pm - 7.15pm. The meetings are for girls aged between 7 and 10 years old. During the meetings the Brownies learn new skills, make new friends and have fun.

Children's Liturgy

During the Sunday 10am Mass in term-time, we hold a liturgy for children between the ages of 4 and 11. We normally divide the children into two groups, 4-7 year-olds, and 8-11 year-olds. Each group is led by two or more catechists who prepare and lead the liturgy on a rota basis. The children are invited to the liturgy at the beginning of Mass and go out of church with the catechists, either into the hall or the meeting room. They return to the church in time for the Offertory. We welcome new catechists and offer help with training.

Choir (Folk)

The Folk Choir celebrates on alternate Saturdays at the 6.30pm Vigil Mass and Sunday 10am Mass at Christmas and Easter. Our music is based on the Scriptures for that particular day, which we read and discuss before selecting appropriate hymns. The players include keyboard, violin, flute and guitars and a choir of singers, who lead the congregation. We welcome anyone interested in joining us and we meet for practice every Thursday evening at 7.30pm, usually in one of our homes.

Church Cleaning

Church cleaners work on a rota basis, cleaning the inside of the church - not including windows or walls - and spend 1-2 hours per their session which occurs about 5 times per year. There are currently around twenty-three cleaners. New brooms are always welcome.

Friendship Group

This recently formed Group offers a warm welcome to anyone who wants to broaden their social circle or is new to the area. Meetings are held monthly on the third Wednesday from 1.45 to 3.15pm in St Aelred's Church Hall. Speakers talk on a range of general topics of interest to men and women of all ages and there is also tea and chat and more.


The church flowers are bought and arranged each week (apart from the weeks of Lent and Advent) on a rota basis by a group of five parishioners. Anybody who would like to join us on a regular or occasional basis is very welcome.

Hospital Chaplaincy

St Aelred's parish provides the Catholic chaplain for the Harrogate District Hospital. Fr Jim relies on messages from patient's family and friends informing him of their presence and location in the hospital. To assist Fr Jim in this ministry there is a lay chaplaincy team drawn from St Aelred's and St Robert's parishes. Most of these visitors are Eucharistic ministers and, working singly or in pairs we visit one area - typically 4 to 6 wards - of the hospital every three or four weeks on a rota basis. Because we visit only a part of the hospital we each see relatively few patients and so are able to spend time with those, especially the elderly, who often just want to talk to someone.

Keep Fit

In the church hall generally during term-time: Mondays 7.30-9pm for ladies over 16, with a KFA qualified instructor. Tuesdays 9.30-10.30am, gentle exercises to cassette music for the over-50s.

Luncheon Club

The luncheon club has been running since July 1995 and provides a monthly lunch, at low cost, open to any adult members of the Harrogate community. Our ethos is to provide a relaxed environment where food and friendship can be enjoyed. All are made welcome. Our menu is printed in the bulletin. The Club runs on the second Friday of the month, serving from 12-2pm. A booking form is at the back of church.

Parish Garden Maintenance

About six families maintain the flower beds and hedges in the grounds of the church and presbytery. The grass-cutting is done fortnightly by contractors. New green fingers always welcome.

Parish Pastoral Council

The Parish Pastoral Council exists to advise the parish priest and assist him in the pastoral care and general maintenance of the parish. Members have a responsibility for effective communication between the people of the parish. The Council generally meets on the first Thursday of every alternate month. Members of the Council are normally elected to serve for a three-year term, and are instrumental in developing the life of the parish in a variety of ways. All confirmed members of the parish who are on the parish register, are eligible to take part in the election.

Resource Centre


Volunteers are often needed to befriend and provide transport to and from Mass for elderly or visually impaired Parishioners. Term-time transport is organised on a rota basis.