Sunday, 8 February 2009

Whittington, St Michael

St Michael the Archangel

The small village of Whittington can be found about 2 miles South of Kirkby Lonsdale on the B6254. The church can be found on the road that leads out of the village, West towards Burton in Kendal. There is parking at the side of the road, and the church can be seen immediately to your left, high up on the brow of a steep hill. This hill is in fact the remains of a Norman motte and bailey castle....with some historical records claiming that it could predate the Norman invasion, and could have been a Saxon moote, a meeting place, later adopted and adapted by the Norman invaders.

Overwhelmingly though, the mound appears to be the remains of the Norman castle here, and in all likely-hood, the church is built over the bailey of the castle. The photo above, is taken from the fields below the church and the motte, looking North. The ditches and banks, marking the defensive boundaries of the motte have disappeared, but most likely followed the course of the wall at the top of the field (shown above)

The photo above, is taken from the bottom of the motte, looking East towards the church tower. The motte looks more pronounced from this angle.

The oldest part of the church is the tower, thought to have been built in the late 15th or early 16th century, although records state that there was a church on this site possibly from as early as the 12th century. The tower stands to a height of 50 feet, and contains a niche with a statue of the Good Shepherd. The tower contains a pele of 6 bells. They date as follows: The treble from 1739. The second from 1754. The third, fourth and fifth from 1875. The tenor is an 1875 recasting of a bell from 1673.

The photo above, shows (not too clearly on this photo) the indentation of a swinging draw bar. This is a gradual cut in the stone face of the jam of the door, and would probably have been used to secure the church from the inside. Instead of the door being secured by a sliding draw bar, as at Kirkby Lonsdale and Melling, this would have swung from above, and rested on the shallow sill of the cut in the stone work.

The photo above, shows the tower door with the bell ropes hanging down in front of it. The door almost has the look of an iron and wood yett. The thickness of the tower walls can clearly be seen here.

A view looking East towards the chancel and the altar, and the stained glass window inserted during the 1875 restoration of the church by Colonel D.C. Greene. During this restoration, the church was almost completely rebuilt.

Royal arms of King George III (I think!!)

View of the altar in the Chancel, including the window of 1875.

A view back towards the tower, with the Victorian font just visible.

The sundial that stands on the summit of the motte, is probably mounted in the stepped base of a cross base.

Melling, St Wilfrid

St Wilfrid

On the A683, the tiny village of Melling has both a beautiful medieval church, and the remains of a Norman motte and bailey castle.

This is yet another church in this small area that resides in the grounds of the castle's remains. Probably built on the site of the bailey, traces of which were probably swallowed up by the graveyard, the motte survives in the garden of the vicarage next door. Remains of a Saxon cross, found in the grounds of the church, probably suggest that this has been the site of a church or chapel since the 10th century.

A fine Norman arch is to be found in the northern entrance to the church, further strengthening the church's claim to great age. In 1858, during some rebuilding work, some more Norman stonework was found in the wall next to a window. The stonework consisted of typical Norman zig-zag moulding, probably representing the remains of a doorway. The oldest identifiable part of the church is the West window of the South aisle, dating from the 13th century. This window may have been moved from its original position however, and probably doesn't represent the original 12th\13th century layout of the church.

The above photo shows the squint that can be found in the South Eastern chapel, affording a narrow view into the chancel.The church was allegedly seriously damaged after the Scots, under Robert the Bruce, raided the Lune valley in 1322, and there is evidence to suggest that elements of the arcades within the church bear the scars of both the raid and the subsequent rebuilding that took place. The 15th century South Aisle wall, contains a very deep draw bar slot in the door way, some four feet thick at its deepest point.

This portion of the wall dates from the 15th century, a similar date to the wall containing the draw bar slot at St Mary's in Kirkby Lonsdale.

The church tower dates from the 15th century and has a peal of six bells, all of which were recast from the original 15th century bells in 1754.

Indeed, the church as a whole seems to have been much rebuilt during the 15th century, and the layout internally and externally seems to represent this period.

In 1763, the church was re-roofed and a brand new clerestory added to both the Nave and the Chancel.

A new plaster ceiling was also added at this time, but was removed in 1856 when further renovation took place.

The clock, high in the West wall of the tower, was constructed by Edward John Dent, who was also responsible for the construction of the great clock of the Palace of Westminster in London.

In the 18th century, the church was re-dedicated to St Peter, returning to its original dedication to St Wilfrid in 1895 by Canon Grenside.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Arkholme, St John the Baptist

St John the Baptist

On the B6254, and about three miles South of Whittington, the small village of Arkholme is home to yet another church built over the site of a small Norman motte and bailey castle.

There has been a church on the site from at the very least, the 1450's, when the village was known as Erwhum.

The present church probably contains elements of this earlier church, although the building we see today is a result of restoration that took place in 1766 and 1788.

The windows throughout date from the 19th century, and probably replace earlier windows from the 1766 and 1788 restorations....which in turn, probably replaced earlier windows.

One of the south aisle capitals, has 15th century stone carvings, but these appear to have been roughly chiseled so that any design or pattern on them is now rendered virtually invisible.

One of the better carvings shows a hare being chased by a dog, although I'm not sure which one of the above photos shows this scene. The church building probably occupies the site of the castle's bailey, although here, as at Whittington, all traces of ditches and ramparts have long since vanished.

The motte however, is a spectacular remain, standing to around 25 feet tall. The remains of a ditch may follow the course of the footpath that runs to the south of the church.

The base of a medieval cross can be found in the church yard.