York & North Yorkshire

Monks want to build Coptic church in North York Moors

sign for St Athanasius' Monastery Image copyright Google
Image caption The monastery site is in an isolated part of North Yorkshire

A group of monks belonging to an Egyptian-based religion has applied to build a church in the North York Moors National Park.

St Athanasius' Monastery has submitted plans to the park authorities to build at its base near Langdale End.

The parish council for the hamlet, near Scarborough, has objected and said the church would look "totally alien".

Proposals will be discussed by the North York Moors National Park Authority on Thursday.

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Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The monks want to build a church in the style of those in Egypt, such as this one in Sharm El Sheikh

St Athanasius' Monastery became the first Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria monastery in Great Britain in 2004.

A congregation of up to 100 worshippers regularly travel there in three buses to join the monks, who lead a strict life of fasting and prayer.

There are 23 acres of land and its residents keep a range of animals and produce cheese and honey to remain self-sufficient, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The parish council, which represents the 42 residents of the hamlet, objected to the proposal which includes a 125 foot (38m) long church featuring two high domed towers in the style of Egyptian churches.

A spokesman said: "While councillors can appreciate the monastery's need for a church, the design is completely out of keeping for the area and will result in a building which looks totally alien in the landscape."

The report to the park's authority said the new building would reflect monastic traditions and the application is recommended for approval.

The Coptic Orthodox church dates to the middle of the 1st Century, split from the rest of the Christendom in 451 and now has about 20 million followers worldwide.

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