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Some Borders churches

August 14, 2012

A reasonable day, weather wise, so  decided to do some church visits in the north of Cumbria.Not strictly Lakeland more the Borders.

A brief visit to Scotland

St. Cuthbert’s, Bewcastle

St. Cuthbert’s, Bewcastle

This features in 1000 best churches.It’s location is incredible, high up on the Cheviots and next to a ruined castle. It is hard to imagine a more atmospheric spot than this. In the churchyard is part of a Saxon cross, with it’s beautiful scroll designs on it.

Bewcastle’s cross

But back to the church itself. The signs outside tell all comers that the church is open every day. There is also a simple sign, affixed to a tree, which simply says that visitors are welcome.

Welcome at Bewcastle

Inside there is a CD of the church registers to buy, a recipe book, t shirts (the first I have come across in a church), cloth bags, tea towels, prayer cards, post cards, guide books and a book entitled ‘Reflections on a visit to Christian Egypt’ which looked very good. Also a couple of books of poems. These are all offered to raise funds for this remote church which can’t have a very large regular congregation. Indeed, this is one case where the ‘Monday to Saturday congregation’, ie visitors must be considerably larger than the Sunday one. Some 31 people had signed the visitors book in the last month. Spiritual needs are catered for by a votive stand. There is a folder detailing the churchyard monuments and one giving details of the excellent East Window, the centre light of which features a modern rendering of St. Cuthbert.

Cuthbert window at Bewcastle

An open  Bible is left on the lectern. This really is an  interesting church to visit and, in  addition, there is a small visitors centre in an outbuilding in the churchyard which features an exhibition of Bewcastle, past and present. All in all, I rate this as very good and it shows what can be done in a remote rural church to attract visitors and cater for them.

St. Mary Magdelene, Lanercost (Lanercost Priory)

Lanercost Priory

A place I have wanted to visit for a long time. This church, and the accompanied Priory ruins well illustrate the turbulent history of this border region. This is all detailed inside with some good displays. The church is open every day and there are stewards in the summer months. The signs outside are very good, giving a clear welcome. There are guide books to buy as well as laminated history guides in various languages. The steward was both friendly and helpful which is always good to find.

Interior, Lanercost Priory

93 people in the visitors book in the last month. This is a very well visited church. A small gift and book shop sells all sorts of things from jam and marmalade, through to history  books and prayer cards, post cards, etc. One n ice idea here, seen in a few other places, is a free bookmark for visitors to take as a reminder of their visit. On one side is a poem and on the other a brief message which reminds us all that this is a living church as well as a visitor attraction. There is a charge to visit the priory ruins next door. Again, this is a very interesting church for th visitor to  come to. I rate it as good. It could do with some more explicit information on the Christian faith. Oh, and more used books for sale! This church is also in 1000 best churches.


St. Martin’s, Brampton

St. Martin’s, Brampton

Another 1000 best churches one. This is famous for it’s glass. It is well worth seeing. It is open every day and the signs give the visitor a good welcome. Inside it is quite dark but once the eyes get accustomed to this it is easy to see the stunning windows.

East window at Brampton

There are leaflets on the church and those who built it, as well as on the windows. Children have a small area to use with the usual colouring and books. There is a prayer chapel with a selection of prayer books to use. This looks like it is used regularly. 34 people in the book. I rate this as Okay. More could be done here to give the visitor a bit more insight into the Christian faith.

St. Kentigern, Irthington


This sounds like an interesting church but it was firmly locked and there was no indication where a key could be obtained nor when it might be open for visitors. A wasted opportunity for visitors.

St. Andrew’s, Greystoke


A solid and impressive church which is open to visitors. The signs outside are basic.  Inside I found prayer cards, book marks (some children’s as well), a guide book and some of the Tim Tily booklets on faith as well as some sgmLife words leaflets. There is some used books for sale and these are marked up as ‘Holiday Reading’ and a suggested donation of a £1 is requested. 29 visitors in the last month. An MU display was around  – I have seen quite a few of these on my travels. There is a stunning crucifix on the west wall by Josefine de Vasconcelloswhich is a moving piece of art. More of her work appears in later posts.

Crucifix at Greystoke

There are some Bible verses which have been nicely painted onto boards.

One of the verse boards at Greystoke

Interior of St. Andrew’s, Greystoke

An open Bible as well. A good church to visit and  rate it as good.

St. Mary’s, Wreay

St. Mary’s, Wreay

This is a most unusual church indeed. The vision of a certain Sara Losh who designed it herself. It is a surprise in a Cumbrian village. It is open every day and the lights come on automatically when you enter. There is a lot to see and a guide, as well as a full sized book, explain it all. There is a lot of symbolism. There is a good booklet entitled, ‘St. Mary’s, Wreay, A journey in Faith’ which helps with interpretation.


You really have to see this place to appreciate it but, as a taster, the pulpit is made from a bog oak with a new shoot with a candle on it, which appears to be growing out of the tree. This represents the light of Christ coming into the world. I rate this as good and it is very well worth seeing.

Pulpit and reading desk at Wreay

An angel at St. Mary’s, Wreay

The sanctuary at Wreay


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