[R]esidents and visitors alike can find 80 of Cumbria’s most beautiful churches, chapels and meeting houses on ExploreChurches, the UK’s new church tourism website run by the National Churches Trust.
The places of worship have been listed with the helped of the Churches Trust for Cumbria.
Cumbria’s top places to visit include:
- Cartmel Priory, the ‘medieval jewel’ which survived the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
- St Oswald’s church, Grasmere, with its links to the Romantic poets – William Wordsworth is buried in the churchyard.
- St Mary’s church, Ambleside, where the author Beatrix Potter spent many summers as a child, which was built by the well-known architect Sir George Gilbert Scott.
- Brigflatts Quaker Meeting House, founded in 1652 – one of the first Meeting Houses in the country.
- Hawkshead Methodist Chapel, one of the oldest buildings used as a Methodist chapel in the world, and with an interior largely unchanged from the 1900s.
Each church featured on ExploreChurches has a dedicated page revealing its fascinating history and amazing architecture. There are details of opening times and directions to make it simple for visitors to plan their trip to the church.
Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust, said: “Cumbria’s dramatic landscape is made even more beautiful by its many churches, chapels, and meeting houses.”
“I am delighted that ExploreChurches is making it easy for people to discover Cumbria’s places of worship which are showcases of history, architecture and local life”
“We would like to include more churches and chapels in Cumbria on the ExploreChurches website. Please visit website at www.explorechurches.org to find out how to get involved.”
ExploreChurches is a new website that makes it easy to discover beautiful and fascinating churches developed by the National Churches Trust, the UK’s church buildings support charity.
The ExploreChurches website, which is available on desktops, tablets and mobile phones, brings churches to life with high quality photographs and information about the history and architecture of each building. It’s easy to plan a visit as ExploreChurches provides practical information including opening hours, directions and access details.
Visitors can share their favourite churches on the ExploreChurches website via social media and also comment on what they love most about churches they have been to.
The Churches Trust for Cumbria has chosen eleven places of worship that hold the most resonance for Cumbria and their local communities:
St Cuthbert, Aldingham – a coastal church
Hugging the east coast of the Furness peninsula, facing into Morecambe Bay, legend claims St Cuthbert’s was once the centre of Aldingham, the sea claiming earlier cottages from the village, once a Saxon settlement and recorded in the Domesday Book.
St Cuthbert, Bewcastle – a thin place
Early Celtic Christians believed there were physical locations where the natural world and the spiritual world touch. Bewcastle, certainly has a wild and untamed feel, and an enigmatic history of faith.
All Saints, Boltongate – a sensational interior
Situated on the edge of the Lake District, with views across to Skiddaw the outwardly perpendicular All Saints, Boltongate belies what Pevsner describes as ‘one of the architectural sensations of Cumbria’.
St Michael, Burgh by Sands – a Solway church
Located in an area of outstanding natural beauty, along Wainwright’s coast to coast route. This impressive fortified church, one of three Solway churches built from the stones of Hadrian’s Wall. Here also lay in state the Plantagenet King, Edward I following his death in 1307.
St Anthony, Cartmel Fell – an extraordinary survivor
Perhaps protected from Cromwell by its remoteness and from the Victorians by lack of funds for improvements, St Anthony’s, hidden in the fell side, remains much the same as when it was built in 1504.
St Peter, Finsthwaite – Paley and Austin churches
A cluster of churches in the Furness area showcase the stylistic range of the renowned Victorian Lancaster architects. The award winning ‘mountain chapel’ of St Peter, Finsthwaite. The Arts & Crafts St Peter’s, Field, Broughton, includes glass by Kempe, Morris, and Abbot & Co. And, the small, low, unpretentious St Luke, Torver.
St Cuthbert, Great Salkeld – a defensive sanctuary
Once a resting place for the body of St Cuthbert returning from the Holy Island. Norman beasts and human faces greet you as you enter one of Cumbria’s three churches with a fortified pele tower, once a place of refuge from marauding border raiders.
St Michael & All Angels, Hawkshead – late medieval Lakeland vernacular
Built by eye rather than from a plan, standing long and low, Wordsworth’s once ‘snow white church upon a hill’, St Michael & All Angels is one of the best Lake District churches. Linked by place and worship are the Baptist, Methodist Quaker buildings.
Cautley Chapel, Sedbergh – simple and serene
Located in the western dales, the now tranquil area once echoed with the noise of the 19th century growth of the railways. This Wesleyan chapel is one of many Methodist chapels along the Carlisle to Settle line that provided welfare and spiritual help to the rail workers.
St Mary, Staveley in Cartmel – lovely Lakeland church
Bypassed by modern roads, St Mary’s is a wonderful place of quiet, set in the woodlands of the Leven valley. Generations of high status families are commemorated here and the lychgate, built from local oak, serves as the village war memorial.
Our Lady Star of the Sea & St Michael, Workington – a decorative feast
Designed in the Early English style by Edward Welby Pugin, Our Lady Star of the Sea & St Michael hosts an array of interior features: elaborate pinnacled Caen stone reredos; patterned encaustic floors; painted and stencilled Baptistery and several of Robert (mouseman) Thompson’s mice!