Thursday, 26 March 2009

Ulverston, St Mary

Ulverston Parish church (St Mary)

The parish church of Ulverston is situated to the North of the Coronation Hall, at the end of Church Walk. For such a gem of a church, it's very well hidden.

Above. St Mary from Church Walk.

The main body of the building dates from 1864 to 1866 when Paley and Austin were contracted to restore the fabric of the church. It's likely however that there has been a church on this site from around 1111. It was sometime around this period that 'the church in Ulverston' was placed in the care of Conishead Priory, with Furness Abbey also receiving an annual 'rent', possibly buying protection for the area.

Above. Holy Trinity

The altar in the Parish church is called the Trinity Altar. This alludes to the name of the Parish church detailed on the board at the church gates "St Mary with Holy Trinity" During the early 19th century, the population of Ulverston stood at around 4000, and the church of St Mary was too small to play host to them all. An additiona church, Holy Trinity was build in 1832, to house the rest of the population, about a mile to the West. As church congregations fell, the newer Holy Trinity was closed, and St Mary's became the sole, Parish church. Holy Trinity was sold, and consequently converted to flats. Some fixtures and fittings from Holy Trinity were transferred over to St Mary's.

Above. The pulpit with its tester\sound board.

The pulpit is situated at the East end of the church, is made of light coloured stone and has a large tester or sound board over it. The pulpit was used by George Fox, a Quaker preacher famous in the South Lakes area, on about three occasions. He was thrown out of the church on two of these occasions, the second time receiving a beating from the local police before being marched to Moss Side (not Manchester!!) and left to fend for himself. Apparently he had upset the local Ulverston population by calling them liars, drunkards and thieves.
The church containes several interesting memorials.

Above. Miles Dodding's memorial

There is a 1606 memorial to Myles Dodding in the West end of the church near the Norman archway. The memorial shows a reclining man, probably Myles himself, enclosed within classical pillars with two memorial plaques written in Latin.

The largest is the tomb of Willaim Sandys. Sandys bought Conishead Priory, eventually passing the site to the Braddyll family who had the tomb constructed for him. The tomb proved to be empty when it was moved from the Braddyll chapel in the East end of the church, prompting the local legend that, as he was murdered, his body was thrown into Morecambe Bay by his murderers.

There is also a memorial to Sir John Barrow, Secretary to the Admiralty and Arctic explorer. The Hoad Monument was built in his honour.

Above. William Sandy's tomb

The church tower dates from the 16th century, probably built sometime between 1540 and 1560, and erected after the original earlier tower was badly damaged in a storm of 1540. The partial collapse of the earlier tower, probably also caused additional damaged to the rest of the building. The 1540-1560 restoration took advantage of the dissolution of nearby Conishead priory and Furness Abbey, with stone from these two sites being used to re-build the damaged church.

Above. The 16th century tower.

Above. The Norman arch

The only remaining masonry from this 12th century period, is the well preserved Norman arch, hidden away within the 19th century porch. This arch, mounted in the South wall of the church, has probably been moved from its original position, but the incised chevrons are in remarkably good condition.

Above. View down the Nave looking into the Chancel.

The church is not usually open, except for services, but luckily the current vicar was nearby, and allowed me time to photograph the interior of the church.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Lowther, St Michael

St Michael

This church is situated about half a mile across the Lowther park from the shell of Lowther Castle. The road that runs past the church runs through the park to Askham, a small village about two miles West of the A6.

The church is visible from the road, with the imposing Lowther mausoleum built in 1857 for the Lowther family. The mausoleum is gothic architecture at its best, with four griffin type beasts mounted on each corner of this small building. The crest of the Lowther family (six circles within a shield) is mounted above the doorway, and at the foot of a short flight of stairs, huge studded, wooden doors with a date of 1857 stand.

The church is situated at the end of a the fell\common, with steep drop to its West side, dropping down to the River Lowther. The tower is buried amongst the Chancel to the East, the Nave to the West, the North Transept and the South Transept. Indeed the tower, buried amongst 17th century additions, dates from the 13th century, with its four huge arches.

The oldest parts of the church however, are the 12th century pillars that stand to your left as you enter the church. There are three complete pillars, and two that are buried in the walls. The capitals topping each of these pillars, are richly decorated with zephyrs, grapes, running beasts, foliage and scallops. At the foot of the second pillar, are four heads, each supporting the pillar base.

In the North trancept, are various memorials to members of the Lowther family, with the centre piece being the huge marbled tomb of William Lowther, Earl of Lonsdale.

Tucked away in the South transept, and partially hidden by the huge organ that is placed here, is an effigy of Sir Richard Lowther and the reclining figure of John, Viscount Lonsdale. There are also busts of two Sir John Lowthers.

There are only two stained glass windows in the church, each standing over the altar.

The earlier church of the mid 12th century, was rebuilt and remodelled in 1686 by Sir John Lowther. The tower was altered and heightened, along with the rebuilding of the outer walls of the Nave, aisles, trancepts and chancel.

Later work was done on the outer walls of the whole of the church.

Askham, St Peter

St Peter's

The small church of St Peter, just outside the hamlet of Askham, is tucked away on the banks of the river Lowther. The church is in the middle of a collection of buildings and sites. To the West lays Askham Hall, a large inhabited pele tower screened from the road by trees (just my luck!!), Lowther Castle to the East, and the church of St Michael to the North. As well as these magnificent buildings, there are a number of medieval and older earthworks, including the remains of a pele tower hidden away in a small copse of trees less than a mile to the North.

The church was rebuilt almost entirely in 1832, replacing an earlier church. Indeed, records show that from around 1240, there was a place of worship here dedicated to St Kentigern. Sir Robert Smirke was employed to design the new\replacement church, following on from work he was undertaking on Lowther Castle.

There are only a few old relics of times past in the church these days. The first is an Elizabethan tomb chest (very intact)

The second is a font with the date 1661 engraved on it.

The third is a medieval corbel mounted up on the wall, with a face carved in it.

The church appears to be open most days for viewing.

Crook, St Catherine's tower

Church of St. Catherine,
Crook\Nether Stavely,
South Lakeland,

The Church of St. Catherine is a grade II listed building. It sits on the hillside just off the B5284 sandwiched between Crook Hall the road.

All that remains of the church is the slate grey tower, sitting in a walled enclosure atop the hill side with good views of the Cumbrian fells all around it.

The church was built in around 1620, but due to its poor condition, was dismantled in 1887.

The tower was left standing as a monument, and has been consolidated and strengthened to aid its survival.

The tower is reached by walking up the gentle hill side from the road. The walk is about three quarters of a mile, and is best done in fine weather as there is only a marked path for about half of the distance.

Kendal, Castle Street Cemetery

Castle Street Cemetery
Castle Street

Castle Street cemetery was opened on the 17th May 1843, and features a chapel which it is thought was designed by the well known Kendalian architect George Webster. The chapel was opened on the 12th of July 1845. The cemetery is now full and is under the management of South Lakeland District Council.

The chapel is a little on the derelict side and obviously hasn’t been used for a number of years.

The chapel is open during daylight hours, and houses the graves and tombs of many of Kendal's famous industrialists.

St Margaret, Bentham

St Margaret
North Yorkshire

This small, almost industrial looking church, can be found in High Bentham, just off the village centre and sandwiched between the railway and the (North) bank of the River Wenning.

The church was built in 1837, to designs by the Kendalian architect, George Webster. The church was extended in 1902, with a two bay chancel, North vestry and Southern chapel all being added at this time.

Unfortunately the church was not open upon my visit, so a return visit is called for at some point.

Bentham, St John the Baptist

St John the Baptist
North Yorkshire

This church can be found on the West bound B6480 in Low Bentham. There are records indicating a church on this site in 1086, when the Domesday book was written, naming the village as Benetain. Bentham was another of the Northern towns and villages that were raised to the ground by the Scottish army, fresh from their victory at Bannockburn in 1314, and whatever church there was here, was probably totally destroyed. Records state that it was another 26 years (1340) before a new church was built, and it is the tower that we see today, that pretty much reflects the rebuilding.

Local legend tells of a mile long tunnel that links the church with Robert Hall, a late 15th, early 16th century manor house that lays to the South West of the church.

The church has undergone three periods of rebuilding and redesign. The first, in 1822, cost £430, and unfortunately meant that much of the medieval fabric of the church was built over or removed. The chancel and the tower remained, fairly intact. The walls were raised up by around 20 feet, the roof was rebuilt, and new reading desks and a pulpit were installed. Three galleries were also added. The second period took place in 1876. Again, the chancel and the tower escaped any drastic action, but the 1822 galleries were removed. The chancel was extended and additional seating for around 210 people was installed. The vestry was rebuilt, as was the nave, all at a cost of around £5483. The third period took place in 1884, with a new rectory being added to the church.

There are a number of interesting artifacts hidden about the church.

The various shards of masonry are undated, but could represent Anglian cross remains, just like at Kendal Parish church.

The above photo shows part of a Saxon cross, estimated to be around 1000 years old. It was found during the 1876 rebuild\restoration, and was originally built into the East wall of the church’s tower, plastered over and therefore hidden from view. The carving shows the crucified Christ, with very slender and simple arms spread in a cross.

The Kirkbeck stone, shown above, is probably an old memorial stone. The word Kirkbeck, could relate to a house that lays about a mile to the South of the church. The stone was found in the River Wenning, and has been dated to the mid 17th century.

Luckily for me, the church was open upon my visit, so I was able to get a good look around.