Cumbria has a history of invasion and settlement; the Romans, Anglo Saxons, Vikings, Normans and Border Rievers have each left their story in our church buildings. Characteristically small and simple, yet not without beauty and grace, they reflect the socio economics of a rural landscape formed of lakes, mountains, coastline and border frontiers. The Anglo Scottish war (c1296-c1513) curtailed the Decorated and Perpendicular styles, yet retained Norman influences. 18th century prosperity, Victorian growth and romanticism contributed to the county known as the land of lakes and fells, Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter.

A thin place

Early Celtic Christians believed there were physical locations where the natural world and the spiritual world touch. Bewcastle, certainly has a wild and untamed feel, and an enigmatic history of faith.

St Cuthbert, Bewcastle

A Solway church

Located in an area of outstanding natural beauty, along Wainwright's coast to coast route. This impressive fortified church, one of three Solway churches built from the stones of Hadrian's Wall. Here also lay in state the Plantagenet King, Edward I following his death in1307.

St Michael, Burgh by Sands

A decorative feast

Designed in the Early English style by Edward Welby Pugin, Our Lady Star of the Sea & St Michael hosts an array of interior features: elaborate pinnacled Caen stone reredos; patterned encaustic floors; painted and stencilled Baptistery and several of Robert (mouseman) Thompson's mice!

Our Lady Star of the Sea & St Michael, Workington

A sensational interior

Situated on the edge of the Lake District, with views across to Skiddaw the outwardly perpendicular All Saints, Boltongate belies what Pevsner describes as ‘one of the architectural sensations of Cumbria’.

All Saints, Boltongate

A defensive sanctuary

Once a resting place for the body of St Cuthbert returning from the Holy Island. Norman beasts and human faces greet you as you enter one of Cumbria's three churches with a fortified pele tower, once a place of refuge from marauding border raiders.

St Cuthbert, Great Salkeld

Simple and serene

Located in the western dales, the now tranquil area once echoed with the noise of the 19th century growth of the railways. This Wesleyan chapel is one of many Methodist chapels along the Carlisle to Settle line that provided welfare and spiritual help to the rail workers.

Cautley Chapel, Sedbergh

Lovely Lakeland church

Bypassed by modern roads, St Mary's is a wonderful place of quiet, set in the woodlands of the Leven valley. Generations of high status families are commemorated here and the lychgate, built from local oak, serves as the village war memorial.

St Mary, Staveley in Cartmel

A coastal church

Hugging the east coast of the Furness peninsula, facing into Morecambe Bay, legend claims St Cuthbert's was once the centre of Aldingham, the sea claiming earlier cottages from the village, once a Saxon settlement and recorded in the Domesday Book.

St Cuthbert, Aldingham

Paley & Austin churches

One of a cluster of churches in the Furness area showcase the stylistic range of the renowned Victorian Lancaster architects. The award winning 'mountain chapel' of St Peter, Finsthwaite. The Arts & Crafts St Peter's, Field, Broughton, includes glass by Kempe, Morris, and Abbot & Co. And, the small, low, unpretentious St Luke, Torver.

St Peter, Finsthwaite

Late medieval Lakeland vernacular

Built by eye rather than from a plan, standing long and low, Wordsworth's once 'snow white church upon a hill', St Michael & All Angels is one of the best Lake District churches. Linked by place and worship are the Baptist, Methodist Quaker buildings.

St Michael & All Angels, Hawkshead

An extraordinary survivor

Perhaps protected from Cromwell by its remoteness and from the Victorians by lack of funds for improvements, St Anthony's, hidden in the fell side, remains much the same as when it was built in 1504.

St Anthony, Cartmel Fell

Churches Trust for Cumbria

This list has been compiled by members of the Churches Trust for Cumbria. The selected churches may not be the most obvious for visitors, but have been chosen because they are local places of worship or buildings that hold special reverence. Hence, they reveal the diversity of the county's church buildings and the landscape in which they belong. The trust aims to support and encourage sustainable use of churches to help keep these unique buildings and communities alive.

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