A church has stood on this site, a small hill above Hawkshead, for over 800 years with the present church being built around 1490 (parts of the tower are older) and little changed since the late 16th century.
The present nave and tower were built in 1819 on the site of the original chapel built in 1586. In 1891 the building was enlarged by the addition of the chancel and vestry at the east end and an extra porch at the west end. A clock was installed in the bell tower. In 1907 an organ loft was erected and an organ installed.
Coniston hails two local heroes, John Ruskin, who lived at Brantwood from 1872 to 1900 and Donald Campbell who tragically died in a 1967 world water speed record attempt when his boat, the Bluebird capsized going 300 miles per hour. John Ruskin is buried in the old churchyard and Donald Campbell is buried in the church yard across the road.
Ruskin first came to the Lakes aged 5. He later said ‘the first thing I remember as an event in life was being taken by my nurse to the brow of Friar’s Crag on Derwentwater’. He returned many times and in 1871 bought Brantwood, near Coniston, where he lived until he died. He is buried in the churchyard, his grave is marked with a large carved cross made from local green slate. It was designed by WG Collingwood, who was an expert on Anglo Saxon crosses, with symbols depicting important aspects of Ruskin’s work and life.