Coverham Church

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Coverham Church

Turner visited Coverham in the summer of 1816 when making illustrations for 'A General History of the County of York' by Thomas Dunham Whitaker.

Coverham is located in Coverdale, one of Yorkshire's quietest and least-known valleys, but in the Middle Ages it was the site of an important abbey that flourished under the protection of nearby Middleham Castle.

There is no record of when Coverharm Church was built, but it was already in existence when the Premonstratensian Priory of Coverham was formed initially at Swainby around 1187, before relocating to Coverham.  The church was one of its endowments and the Priory owned the church throughout the Middle Ages.  Following the Dissolution of the Monastries, the church then passed into the ownership of the Crown.

The church was first listed in 1967, became redundant in 1985 and since 1987 has been under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.  The ruins of Coverham Priory have been incorporated into a private house, which can be seen from the road.


Wheelchair accessDogs accepted

Turner's Viewpoint

Turner made a quick sketch of the Abbey ruins in his pocketbook (Ruins of Abbey 'Yorkshire 1' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLIV 46a)  and then found a more distant viewpoint off the road to Middleham, where he could take in the abbey, bridge and little church, built alongside the Abbey.  He clearly took time over this sketch and must have been intending a finished watercolour.

Turner's sketch of the Abbey from a distance included a detailed study of Coverham Church (Ruins, with Distant Mountains 'Yorkshire 3' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CXLVI 21).

Discover The Landscape

The church can still be visited today.  The Turner Trails bench is located next to the church entrance on the right of the lych gate when seen from the road.

Turner's Religious Houses

Listen to Episode 4 of our Turner podcast series when Turner expert, Professor David Hill, is joined by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, as they look at Turner's sketches and paintings of Yorkshire's historic religious houses.

The Venue


Holy Trinity, Coverham, Nr Leyburn, North Yorkshire, DL8 4RN

Map reference: SE104864

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Directions to Coverham Church:

Take A6108 from Leyburn to Middleham. From Middleham follow brown tourist signs for Forbidden Corner to reach Coverham after 2 miles. The church is in on the left hand side as you pass through the hamlet