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Lakeland – 15th August 2012

August 15, 2012

More visits in Cumbria.

St. John’s, Keswick

St. John’s, Keswick

This large and imposing church sits near the town centre. The external signs are OK but there is a good welcome notice in the entrance. Inside I found a free guide leaflet an also a book on the history of Marshall family and the church entitled ‘Linen and Liturgy’. This is available for a donation which seems very generous. There are some copies of ‘Our Daily Bread’, daily Bible reading notes as well as some other leaflets and booklets on faith. There are also cards to buy, including some lovely hand painted ones by Sister Marjorie Jean. Some 11 people had signed the visitors book in the last month which seems very low. A prayer request board is very well used by the look of it.

Inside St. John’s

There is a votive stand to light candles as well. The altar is lit which gives a nice focus to the church. There are some good explanatory signs about features in the church as well as the founders memorial. I would rate this church as good as they have made a good effort for visitors.



St. Mary’s, Thornthwaite


This lovely little church is open. The sign outside just details the Sunday services. There is a rack of sgm Lifewords leaflets inside as well as a few others. One nice touch is the Lord’s Prayer in arabic which acts as a reminder to pray for the Middle east. 19 visitors in the book for the last month. This is a simple country church with a peaceful atmosphere. I rate it as good.








All Saints, Cockermouth

All Saints, Cockermouth

The signs outside are very good, giving a very clear welcome to visitors. It also mentions that this is a working church and that there may be a funeral or other service on – a good reminder. There is a good children’s area to use. Only 11 visitors in the book over the last month. One very noticeable thing here is the number of welcome signs.

All Saints, Cockermouth

An intercessions book is there too be used as is a votive stand and a prayer board. A Bible is left open on the lectern. I would rate this as good.








Christchurch, Cockermouth

Christchurch, Cockermouth

I wandered through the town to find Christchurch. This was also open with the door left open to welcome visitors. The external sign just gives details of Sunday services and clergy. There is a good stand of Christian leaflets inside and nice children’s area all set up. There were no visitors in the book over the last month so I added my name. Some displays were in evidence. One on an Olympic flame event and another on a CMS link. There was a small prayer group on when I arrived so I waited until they had finished before looking around. They were very welcoming and friendly and it is good to see a church being used  for one of the things it is intended for! I rate this church as good.








St. Bridget’s. Moresby

St. Bridget’s, Moresby

A distinctive church on the cliff top right next to the site of a Roman fort. It really should be open but isn’t! The sign outside says; ‘Thinking about coming to church. For heaven’s sake what are you waiting for? Service times are on the notice board we look forward to welcoming you. Rather says it all. ’ The website is at but there is no mention of opening times, despite there being a link to visit cumbria.

Sign at Moresby

I rate this as very poor, and a good example of bad practice regarding visitors. It is also a wasted opportunity to minister to locals as well as tourists and others. Sorry, but this just isn’t good enough.




St. James, Whitehaven

St. Jame’s, Whitehaven

This large, and very distinctive church was open. The sign outside doesn’t mention being open. This is a very interesting church with much for the visitor. There is a guide and postcards for sale. One thing I liked was a simple description of just who James the greater was. Too many churches ignore describing the significance of their patron saint. Also a brief biography of the churches architect, Carlisle Spedding. There is a folder of visitor information. The glass doors into the church are nicely etched and open automatically.


A simple note on how to pray was also on display, as well as a description of the Cross of Peace – a lovely item. There are other notable things here. A memorial, made of coal, to miners who lost their lives in the Whitehaven pits,

Miner’s memorial, Whitehaven

a nice modern picture ‘Madonna of the Chair’ with an explanation. Some MU crosses to take away if you needed re assurance or to know that God loves you. All this shows that considerable thought has gone into making this church attractive to the visitor. A votive stand can be used and a Bible is left open. There are also some very good explanatory leaflets giving details of various items in the church. I rate this as very good indeed. Highly recommended.

Mother’s Union crosses at Whitehaven







The Priory Church of St. Mary and St. Bega, St. Bees

St. Bee’s

Another church I have long wanted to visit. The signs outside are very good, giving a very clear welcome to their many visitors. This is a really interesting church to visit with much to see. There are several guides to buy as well as walks and other leaflets and post cards. There is a good young persons guide .Also a selection of used books for sale. There are prayer sheets and prayers are invited from visitors. I saw a local history folder which gives biographies of some local characters and worthies from times past. Another folder gives details of St. Bee’s lifeboat. One thing that does enhance the visitor experience is that the lights in the building come on automatically as you approach certain areas. The Lady Chapel has some wonderful sculpture in it from Josefine de Vasconcellos (see also entry on Greystoke). She was also responsible for the very moving pieces in ‘The Sleeping Child Garden’ outside, to children who died young.

The moving sleeping child garden at St. Bee’s

St. Bee’s interior

Some good displays help the visitor to understand the history of the priory. This is a good church to spend some time in and I rate it as excellent. A real example of what can be done with a bit of effort. 99 visitors in the book over the last month. gives more info.

Welcome to St. Bee’s








St. John’s, Beckermet

St. John’s, Beckermet

There is a good welcome here, both outside and inside. There is a guide to take around with you but none too take away. One item I liked was a set of laminated prayers to guide the pilgrim. This is a very Victorian and very simple little church but well worth a visit. Only one person in the visitors book in the last month! I rate this as OK +







St. Bridget’s, Beckermet

St. Bridget’s, Beckermet

This old church sits outside the village. It is a very atmospheric building. Incredibly simple and looks to be always open. It gives a real flavour of what a church would have been like in the early nineteenth century. There isn’t much to see. There is no guide or other information so I have to rate it as poor but I really like St. Bridget’s. It is absolutely wonderful! It is good to see that there is to be a major restoration project starting here soon. A church well worth preserving.

Simple interior at St. Bridget’s







St. Michael & All Angels, Nether Wasdale

Nether Wasdale

By this time it had started to rain. I decided to press on in the vain hope that it might clear up. I traveled up Wasdale. Another lovely little church half way up Wasdale. The church is very well cared for and there is an excellent welcome on the signs outside. One very nice touch is that a sign is affixed on the churchyard wall as you go out which says; ‘Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.’

Sign on way out – very simple and very lovely

Inside a light comes on automatically and there are some good local history display boards all about the dale as well as the church. There is a church guide and ‘A Pictorial Guide to Wasdale’s History’. Both are good. Also, a folder of prayers to use. 11 people had signed the visitors book in the last month which seems very few for such a place. This really is a special little church and shows just what can be done for visitors in even a tiny place.  I rate St. Michael & All Angels as very good.

Inside St. Michael & All Angels, Nether Wasdale

Lastly today, as the rain had really set in like it only can in the Lakes!








St. Olaf’s, Wasdale Head

St. Olaf’s in the rain

One of the contenders for the smallest church (I think the smallest is Bremiham in Wiltshire which measures 13‘ x 11‘ and seats about 10). A wonderful place which would be even better in the sunshine! It sits in a truly magnificent setting with the high fells all around. There are no signs but I can forgive St. Olaf’s much. In side it is all very simple with a real sense of peace and prayer.

Inside St. Olaf’s

They have some of the UCB Word for today booklets to take but that is about it. There were about 100 visitors in the book in the last month, I forget the exact figure. Again there is a folder of prayers to use and an intercession book with a notice that these prayers will be prayed at the next service. It is well used.

I rate this wonderful place as good.

Tiny memorial on a single pain of glass at St. Olaf’s


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