Thursday, 18 December 2008

Heysham, St Peter

St Peter

To find the church, simply follow the signs, as detailed for the chapel of St Patrick, from the town centre. The church lays off to the right of the path before you get to the chapel.

The church is a wonderful low slung building, dating from the 14th and 15th centuries, but earlier stonework dating from around 800AD can still be seen. Before the church there was a small monastery on the site. Finds in the surrounding area suggest even earlier habitation and usage however, as a roman altar has been recovered. The monastery lasted until around 1066, and from then on was used as a church until the current building was built from th 1300's onwards. The Saxon building was most likely demolished, although tantalising pieces of stonework can be found in the present day structure.

The oldest parts of the church are the West window and the West doorway, probably Saxon.

Above. View of the West wall showing the tiny Saxon window and door.

It's likely that the church and the chapel above it on the cliffs, were part of a monastic community and would have been intimately connected. In the grounds of the church, can be found the remains of a stone coffin minus the lid, dating from around 800 to 950AD.

There's also the remains of the base of a Saxon cross, with intricate carvings surviving to this day. The shaft dates from around 800AD.

This cross base looks as if it has a representation of a building, possibly a church, with three windows under a gabled building. My next visit will have to include the interior of the church, which includes Norman architecture and a hog back grave.

Above. The probable remains of a sundial dating from 1695.

The interior of the church dates from the 1300's, with later 14th century additions, a 16th century arch separating the the chapel and the chancel, a 16th century porch, a 17th century vestry and a 17th century bellcote.

Heysham, St Patrick's chapel.

St Patricks chapel,

On a headland just off the A589 in Heysham, the remains of the chapel of St Patrick can be found, just behind the ancient church of St Peter.

The chapel can easily be reached by following the signs to the remains from down in the village. The walk is easy and around a quarter of a mile from the main car park. It's free too....which is always a bonus!!!

Black Sabbath fans will most likely recognise these graves from the 2006 album cover, The Best of Black Sabbath!!

These graves have the sockets for crosses still visible, although both the crosses, the grave lids and the contents have long since been removed!

Once you've passed the church on your right, the chapel is situated up a gently slope, overlooking the sea to the West. All that remains now, are the largely re-constituted walls of the chapel, no doubt re-built using rubble found on the site. However, this has been done exceptionally well, and no more than necessary has been done to convey the essence of this site.

There is a small rectangular ruined building with arches and some standing stones. Around these remains are the remnants of carved grave stones, hewn from the bedrock.

The chapel dates from around 667AD.The remains of a cemetery were found roughly to the South of the chapel, with the buried remains of around 85 people.

This Saxon gateway\doorway can be found between the chapel and St Peters below.

Around the back of the chapel, down a path that leads eventually to the beach, the remains of further paths, walls and arches can be seen, some hewn from the bedrock, and some rebuilt from known remains and rubble.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Great Ormside, St James

St James
Great Ormside

Great Ormside is about 4 miles South of Appleby. The small church in this tiny village sits on a very early medieval fortified ringwork that looks out over a bend in the River Eden. This ringwork, that now provides the base upon which the church is built, sits about six metres above the surrounding fields.

The church consists of a 12th century tower (probably built sometime in the 1190's) abutting the nave of the church on 11th century walls. The tower is thought to have been built to offer a degree of defence....the lack of an external door and no windows at ground level possibly adding some strength to this suggestion. The doorway to the tower is at the west end of the nave, and stands to around 8 feet.

The North walls of the nave, and the central pillar supporting the arch into the North chapel, date from the 12th century, with 12th century windows surviving in the 16th century South wall. There is a small amount of decoration on the pillar supports in this wall.

The north chapel was built in the 18th century, and juts out of the back of the church. The chancel, which of course, lies to the East of the church, dates mostly from the 16th century, with small pieces of 12th century masonry in the north walls.

A 14th century hagioscope (leper's squint) remains in the north wall of the chancel, but this now looks into the modern vestry, and is now blocked with a tiny stained glass window.

There are a number of small niches in the chancel walls, that may have been moved from earlier walls. Two of these are pictured here. The top photo shows the piscina, in which the holy vessels would have been washed after mass. These niches all date from the 16th century.

There are a number of grave slabs dotted around the church yard. None of these have any indication of to whom they are dedicated, however, the right hand cover in the photo below, now mounted in the rear wall of the vestry, has a feint floral design still visible on it.

There is also the shaft of what is probably a medieval cross, standing by the Victorian porch.

The font (pictured below) probably dates from the 12th century.

The roof timbers in the nave and the chancel are quite spectacular, and probably date from the early 16th century.

There is undoubtedly more that can be written about this church, and as further information is researched, I will update this entry.

St Mary the Virgin, Gisburn

St Mary
North Yorkshire

St Mary’s sits at the junction of the A59 and the A682, a low slung church of great age and character.

The foundations of the present church have been dated to around 1135, documents certainly exist in York, stating that the Priest of Gisburn was Renulf between 1140 and 1146. The church seems to have shared patronage between the Archbishopric of York, and the Prioress of Stainfield Nunnery in Lincolnshire.

At this time, the church may have had a dual dedication….to St Mary the Virgin, and St Andrew. The dual dedication may have been an attempt at dissuading marauding Scottish armies from desecrating the church and its grounds. Whether this worked or not is not obvious.

It’s possible, as with so many other Norman churches, that there was an earlier Saxon church on the site, but earlier buildings seem to have been constructed of wood, and therefore no remains can be found.

Restoration and consolidation has been undertaken on a few occasions. Documents show that the church was restored in the late 16th century and also in 1872. during the latter restoration, the church was re-roofed and new pews and a pulpit were installed.

One of the most interesting features of the interior of the church, are the large round pillars at the front of the building.

These most certainly date from the 12th century, and possibly, along with part of the massive archway, came from Sawley Abbey after the dissolution instigated by Henry VIII.

There are four beautiful Royal coats of arms mounted high in the clerestory portion of the church.

There are 7 stained glass windows in the church in total, none of which look older than the 1600’s, with most of the windows being from around the 1800’s. Two windows do contain some medieval glass however.

The church appears to be left open for inspection.

A usefull website for the village of Gisburn.

Dunnerdale, Holy Innocents

Holy Innocents

This tiny church can be found about two and a half miles North of Broughton in Furness, on the B road leading to the A593.

The church is hidden behind a screen of trees as you approach from the North.

Instead of a clock on a steeple or tower, the church's clock is mounted on the West facing porch.

An apse can be found at the East end of the church, light and airy with four narrow windows.

There is a single stained glass window in the church. It is dedicated to Amadeus Malleson, vicar of the parish from 1870 to 1897.

The window was designed by Charles Kemp, a painter of church ceilings, walls and woodwork throughout the 1860's. He was responsible for work in a number of churches throughout Cumbria. Click on the image for a full size version. Another version of this photo, without the security wiring, can be found here!

A view towards the apse and the altar, and the Charles Kemp window. The church has been in existence from at least 1887, as there is a foundation stone with the following inscription on it "This stone was laid by the Viscountess Cross, Sept 19th 1887"