• Jill Durnford

Hidden Churches - Day 2

Day two of our tour took us totally off the beaten track, through the winding lanes of the Winster valley to the strange little at Cartmel Fell - St Anthony's.  With its whitewashed walls and solid roof beams, it seemed exactly right for the hard-working farming folk who would have worshipped here in days gone by.  In fact, it feels rather more like a barn than a church - and as such, had a very comforting, relaxed and peaceful quality about it.

The church was built in 1504 as a chapel of ease so that the local people didn't have to walk 7 miles to Cartmel Priory every Sunday.  Until the Dissolution of the Monasteries (1536-40) one of the monks from the Priory would have served at the chapel.  In common with many other chapels, it later became a church in its own right with the parish priest doing double-duty as the local schoolmaster.  Ancient graffiti in the box pews shows where bored boys whiled away the hours!

The box pew on the left is known as the Cowmire pew and belonged to the Briggs of Cowmire Hall (just down the road) who were one of the main beneficiaries to the church.  The front of the box is made from the original pre-Reformation Rood screen - one of very few still in existence.

Very little has changed in this church, one of the major additions being the box pews and the triple-decker pulpit, with the date 1698 rather handily carved on it.

The east window is believed to be early 15th century and may have come from Cartmel Priory when it was in the process of being destroyed during the Dissolution.

Our next stop was Bowness on Windermere which was decidedly less busy than during the summer months!  The parish church, St Martin's couldn't be more different to Cartmel Fell in that it has an unusual amount of decoration.  The walls were painted in the 19th century, in a style reminiscent of the medieval wall paintings.

After lunch we headed to Troutbeck to view the wonderful east window at Jesus Church.  The church was in existence by the early 16th century at least but what you see today is largely a result of a massive restoration project in 1861.  Just a few years later and the 3 windows at the east end were replaced by the magnificent window below:

Designed chiefly by Edward Burne-Jones with sections by William Morris and Ford Madox-Brown, it was made at the Morris studios and is both beautiful and unusual.  It feels very serene and you could easily spend ages just gazing….

Our final visit of the day was to Kirkby Lonsdale and Casterton.  The church at Casterton was built for the daughters of clergymen attending the Casterton school.  Enid commented on the good acoustics of the church and I told her that it was indeed known for being particularly good and many concerts are held here.  She then surprised us by announcing that she used to be a singer and treated us to a rendition!

After a busy day we ended up in Kirkby Lonsdale where a quick trip to the church to view the Norman columns was followed by a considerably longer visit to a tearoom with a roaring log fire!

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