Lath and Plaster ceiling repairs to a charming chapel in North Yorkshire

Our craftsmen are currently working on this charming building in Thornton-Le-Beans, a North Yorkshire village that gets a mention in Bill Bryson's 1995 book 'Notes on a Small Island', where he describes the village as 'Practically unbeatable Thornton-Le Beans' in a list of strange names of settlements he visits on his journey. The Chapel is a Grade II Listed and is a redundant Chapel of Ease, under the care of the Friends of Friendless Churches, a charity set up in 1957 to save disused but beautiful of places of worship with architectural and historical interest from demolition, decay and unsympathetic conversion. They believe that an ancient and beautiful church fulfils its primary function merely by existing, and this Chapel is certainly very beautiful.

The building seems to have always been a chapel of ease rather than a full parish church – but it was favoured as the final resting place for the good farming folk of the area who created a “funeral walk” along which they brought their dead from North Otterington for burial at Thornton Le Moor, a request from Bill Bryson in his book. Wikipedia also claims it was made a World Heritage Site in 1970 but we can't find evidence of this anywhere else.

Our task was to make good the Chancel, Nave and Vestry ceilings using heritage techniques, as the original lath and plaster was damaged and dangerous. After the original ceiling was removed by another contractor, Ryedale's craftsmen affixed hand riven hard wood laths between the joists, and applied 3 coat lime haired mortar - each coat requiring a week or more of curing time, that with the current cold spell has run into weeks. Finally though, with some sunny and warmer days, it looks as though the job will be finished this week.

Keep watching here for fascinating project photos, as our craftsmen battle with sore knees, wintery weather and working in a confined space.

















  • Affix hand riven hard wood laths in between all joists.
  • Apply a scratch coat of lime haired mortar and leave to cure for up to a week, unless the weather is very cold, then it could be longer.
  • Follow with a float coat, allowing curing time.
  • Skim ceiling with lime and kiln dried sand.
  • Clear all waste generated.

This can be lime washed after a few days, we will give a more accurate time when finishing.


Total £26,233.87 + vat

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