Greystoke, Cumbria – St Andrew

We drove back along Ullswater to Pooley Bridge, then cut north across the A66 and to the village of Greystoke and St Andrew’s church – NY 443307. Quite a sizeable village and, to quote Pevsner, “a major church, broad but markedly deficient in height.” An early church here, perhaps linked to the Castle which was apparently built by the Viking leader Lyulph, was re-founded as a collegiate church (one of only two in the region) in 1382, perhaps a response to the Black Death, which carried off half the English clergy. Then it had a master, seven chaplains, and six chantry priests. Now it is in a benefice with three other churches – website.

The church looks C16 or even C17 – there was a Chancel repair in 1645, and restorations of 1818 and 1848. The tower was certain re-clad, if not re-built, in 1848. We parked by the rather nice gate post, and entered.

You enter by the north door, and your eye is drawn to the tent in the south aisle. I quite understand why a heated tent with seats for the congregation, all together in one place, is so much better than a dozen people scattered across a huge, freezing church – but I’m not sure I would want to worship here. I suppose it would be much more expensive to get permission to close off the Chancel to make a warm room, or do something with one of the chapels – perhaps the tent is the best idea. Or is it time to hand the whole pile to the Churches Conservation Trust, and join with the local non-conformist chapel? I wish I knew the answer.

At last we have a decent guidebook, and a welcome leaflet. “We hope you will enjoy you visit to our church. [I’m not a fan of “our church”, but at least the text continues …] This building is open to everyone of any faith or none, to explore and enjoy.” It contains an invitation to the 9.15 service which takes place every Sunday (same time each week is so much easier) , and it also suggests that St Kentingern’s church at Mungrisdale, St Andrew’s church at Dacre and Matterdale church are all worth visiting. Joined up thinking! Alleluia!!!!! The guidebook suggests that each aisle would originally have been taken up with Chantry Chapels – so there’s the precedent they need fot the DAC when they try and replace the tent with a chapel. Imagine how busy a place like this would have been before the Reformation – constant masses being said in each of the chapels – and wonder what we lost. You can see the size of the Nave from these photos.

The rood beam, which bridges the Chancel arch, is probably the oldest thing in the church, and carries floral emblems representing the five wounds of Christ, and a selection of angels. There is some old woodwork in the Chancel itself, and I missed the misericords. The East window is a collection of medieval glass. Legend has it that it was removed in haste and buried as Cromwell approached, then restored in 1848. “The restorers had difficulty in reassembling the pieces of glass in the original order and, where pieces were missing, they substituted pieces from the other windows which had been shattered by Cromwell’s men.” Note the red devil between the feet of a bishop.

We have an old sedilia in the south wall of the Chancel, and the Baron William and his grandson John lie in effigy in a recess in the Chancel which once housed the tomb of John Dacre, the last Provost of the medieval college. William is dressed like the Black Prince at Canterbury. Apparently the effigies were in the churchyard for 250 years, hence the water marks and the broken alabaster – the leaflet says that alabaster was used by local farmers for rubbing on sheep scab and for sharpening scythes.

I think that all the other glass I photoed is Victorian. I like the various images in this one of  Jesus teaching, with a child who is not concentrating on his words.


The Resurrection window in the north wall by the organ is by Charles Kempe., and we have the fountain of life, peacock-feathered angels, Jerusalem in the background, Mary, and is that the casket of myrrh the three wise men gave thirty years earlier? I often wonder if the women were carrying it on the Sunday morning, and what happened to it when the tomb was empty.

There are some fascinating hatchments and memorials – you guessed it, the one I will look up is the South Mahratta Railway in India. It was formed on 1 June 1882, and its first line was a metre gauge line 40 miles long from Bellary to Hospet. It opened in 1884. Twso years later the Mysore State Railway came into the company. In 1888 the line was extended towards Portuguese Goa, and a line ran from coast to coast. Then it merged with the Madras Railway. I went to an York University Institute of Railway Studies talk a few years ago on the links between British and Indian Railway Companies – fascinating.


The Madonna and Child was carved by two German PoWs, and painted by a third. They were stationed at the Castle at the end of WW2, but their names are not given in the guide. They simply worked with a penknife on a lump of holly root given by the Rector. The crucified Christ is the work of Josephine de Vascanellos. It represents the words of Jesus to the good theif who hung beside him “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” It looks out of the window into the future, from time to eternity. The font is rather nice, but not mentioned.

A quick explore the churchyard, but rather too cold for much more.

Back to Penrith for coffee and to warm up. Clare dropped me at the station for the 1621 Virgin Train to Crewe and London. Signal failure meant we left at 1731. I had a book. We arrived in Crewe at 1908, and they had let the 1907 East Midlands Train to Derby go. Several of us got very cross, but there was no station supervisor and no one gave a damn. Bring back British Rail – it wasn’t perfect, but at least it was one network. The next train to Derby was at 2045. That spoiled a nice day


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One Response to Greystoke, Cumbria – St Andrew

  1. Katherine says:

    Fascinating post – I definitely want to visit this church sometime, if only to see the “inner church” – but I’d prefer not to replicate your tiresome railway journey …. yes, bring back public ownership of trains … we (on the east coast) live in hope!

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