CumbriaLEVENSStJohnEvangelist(stephenmckayCC-BY-SA2.0)1 StephenMcKay

St John the Evangelist

A local landmark, the church is set on the end of a limestone ridge at the gateway to the Lake District National Park and has become the icon for Levens village, with beautiful views across the Kent Estuary to Morecambe Bay.

Levens, Cumbria

Opening times

Open 24 hours a day, every day, unless there is a coffin in church overnight before a funeral when it is locked.


Church Road

Designed by William Coulthard of Lancaster, opened in 1828, it is a good example of a transition church between restrained classical Georgian architecture and full blown Gothic revival.

St John’s story is inextricably linked to the story of Levens Hall. Three local hamlets, Beathwaite Green, Cotes and Causeway End were in the Parish of Heversham. It is said that The Hon. Mary Howard, heiress of Levens Hall, had a disagreement with the vicar of Heversham and decided to endow and build a Chapel of Ease at Beathwaite Green. The slightly elevated site, spire and overall profile make this a distinctive church, more than a simple chapel of ease, it nevertheless (or perhaps to prove the point) asserts its presence. Opened in 1828, it was consecrated by John Bird, Bishop of Chester, in 1836. The dedication read ‘St John the Evangelist, Levens’, early indication of the use of this new name encompassing all three hamlets of Beathwaite Green, Cotes and Causeway End.

The Revd Sidney Swann (1912-14), made several changes to the interior, but the most significant occurred outside. The chapel having been built on a limestone scar offered insufficient soil depth for burials. His autobiography states:

‘I persuaded the Levens farmers to give me a boon carting day: they carried 200 cartloads of sand up… and soon the churchyard was green and ready for burials… but the difficulty was to get the first burial. A bribe of a sovereign, however got a corpse, and once there was a gravestone there, others soon came along, for it was no longer thought to be lonely’.

In 1920 Swann married Theodosia, widow of Captain Josceline Bagot of Levens Hall. The fine stained glass east window, by AK Nicholson, was given in memory of her late husband and son. The north and south stained glass is by N & S Abbot and Co Lancaster. Many of the oak furnishings, choir stalls and priests desks were donated by the Bagot family, the vicar’s desk bears the Bagot coat of arms.

The colourful vicar Reverend Sidney Swann (1862-1941) made some internal changes around 1913 and built the Japanese style framework which houses bells which came from St Thomas’ Milnthorpe.

The church has continued to be a lively Christian presence at the heart of its community. In January 2017, we received an Eco Church Gold Award.

  • Wildlife haven

  • Spectacular stained glass

  • Social heritage stories

  • National heritage here

  • Magnificent memorials

  • Glorious furnishings

  • Fascinating churchyard

  • Famous connections

  • Enchanting atmosphere

  • Captivating architecture

  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

  • Space to secure your bike

  • Parking within 250m

  • On street parking at church

  • Level access to the main areas

  • Dog friendly

  • Accessible toilets nearby

  • Church of England

Contact information

Other nearby churches

St John the Evangelist

Helsington, Cumbria

Built in 1726, the church commands extensive views across the Lyth valley towards the distant Lakeland fells and Morecambe Bay.

St Peter

Heversham, Cumbria

Welcome to St Peter’s, the oldest site of worship in the old county of Westmorland and the building we see today reflects its long and fascinating history.

St Michael & All Angels

Beetham, Cumbria

The beautiful Grade I church we see today, situated by the River Bela, is the result of additions and adaptations through the centuries.