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Crosthwaite Church Keswick


• The salmon with a ring in its mouth bears evidence of St.Kentigern's helpfulness in retrieving the lost ring of bride-to-be, the Queen of Cadzow, from a fish which was caught in the River Clyde.

• The bell, somewhat more prosaically, signifies a bell which St.Kentigern brought with him from his travels to Rome. The custom was to toll the bell to announce a death and to encourage the people to pray for the soul of the departed.

What to look for!

The consecration crosses which are of 1523. There are nine inside the church and three outside on the side of window openings, making a total of twelve; a unique feature in England. These are most easily seen at the side of the north aisle windows.

• The Southey memorial inside the church in the south east corner. Robert Southey was Poet Laureate and worshipped at Crosthwaite for forty years until his death in 1842. His tomb is in the churchyard; near the north side of the tower, if you turn right out of the porch and pass the tower there is a direction sign at the side of the footpath.

• The Radcliffe chapel and tomb; the two alabaster effigies in the South East corner, probably represent Thomas Radcliffe and his wife, 1495, as a memorial to the well known local family.

• The mosaic floor, in the sanctuary, in front of the communion table, depicting the legends of St.Kentigern. You can see the Tree, the Bird, the Fish and the Bell mentioned above, around the Communion Table, and also in the East window where the figure of St.Kentigern is on the right. The same emblems are on the blue pulpit ‘fall’.

• The Communion Table frontal for most of the year is green with a Greek inscription at the top, reading: EN TOYTW NIKA, and meaning “In this conquer”. The emblem below shows in what to conquer! -- The first two Greek letters of the name of Christ – Chi and Rho superimposed.

This was the banner of the Roman Emperor Constantine, who dreamed that if he fought under this banner he would conquer; then he did win a great battle in 312AD.

• The stained glass in the windows is mostly 19th Century but there are fragments of very ancient glass in the S.E. comer and in one window of the North aisle.

• The Font, to the left upon entering the church by the porch, is one of the most remarkable objects in the church and its elaborate carving dating from 1395, commemorating Sir Thomas of Eskhead, a Vicar of Crosthwaite. See the list of clergy on the North wall, west end and therefore the association with ‘Fletcher Christian’ the Vicar's nephew.

• The Plaque near the font is dedicated to Canon Rawnsley who was Vicar for thirty-four years from 1883. Canon Rawnsley was co-founder of the National Trust and instigator of a number of "activities" in Keswick. Mrs. Rawnsley founded Keswick Society of Industrial Arts and designed the church main gates together with the brass work on the reredos and indeed many other artefacts.

• The bell chamber with bell-ropes for a peel of eight, of which the heaviest weighs over 16cwt., may be viewed through the glazed screen. Note the balcony where the clock mechanism is located and the ' loft ladder ' from the bell platform that is descended once a week by the clock winder. There are some interesting inscriptions on "boards" hanging on the walls of the bell chamber.

• The organ was made by Bishop's of London, 1837. It was enlarged by Jardines of Manchester and then rebuilt and installed as a War memorial in 1920. The console was moved from under the organ to its present position in 1980, in order to make room for a reception area and for the convenience of the Organist who could neither hear the sound properly nor see the Choir. Recent upgrading has modernised key-board operation and further improved this very fine organ.

• The main door, with its ancient oak batten that acts as a door lock and retracts into a hole in the door jamb. The outer porch doors are recent.

• The Tower Clock outside the church on the south side, dates from about 1720, and only has an ‘Hour Hand’. There is also an ancient sun-dial on the south wall still works—when the sun shines.

We hope you have

enjoyed your

‘virtual visit’ to

Crosthwaite Church,

may the Peace of

God go with you.

• The tree recalls when St.Kentigern used a branch of hazel to ignite a tree in order to bring light to a darkened monastery in Culross.

• The bird is actually a pet robin which was looked after by St.Kentigern's master, St.Serf. St.Kentigern restored the unfortunate creature to life after it had been accidentally killed by some disciples.

St.Kentigern came to our area having been driven out of Glasgow by a pagan prince, and set up his cross in a clearing or ‘Thwaite’, in 553AD. Hence the name “Crosthwaite”. Nothing remains of the earliest church buildings, but small portions of the stone church of 1180 survive.

In all likelihood a church has stood on this site since the sixth century A.D. The existing church is probably the fifth or sixth building since then and we learn of a new one in 1180, built by Alice de Romili, Lady of Allerdale. Her son was drowned and in deep sorrow she also founded Bolton Abbey and restored the nave of Carlisle Cathedral.

In 1198, Richard Coeur-de-Lion gave the church to Fountains Abbey and for three hundred years the parish was run by the monks. The hollow at the bottom of Vicarage Hill, still indicates the road by which they came to church from the Monastery Hall in Fitz Park. If you look at the board on the north aisle with the list of Vicars’ names, you will note there are no names during this period.

In the time of Edward III (1327-1377) the church appears to have been rebuilt. The present building is dated 1523 and was extensively restored in 1844, by the architect Gilbert Scott, who designed the roof timbers, pews and some of the screen work now existing.

This all took place because subscriptions were being gathered in 1844, for a Southey monument, mostly through the munificence of a well known personality of the time, James Stanger Esq. of Lairthwaite. It is a good example of pre-Reformation Northern perpendicular architecture, planned for processions, after the fashion of St.Margaret's Westminster. Note the absence of a Chancel arch.

There are many interesting features to be seen as you walk round. A framed plan of the church hangs in the entrance porch and describes the stages of development through the centuries.

This Church is dedicated to St.Kentigern, known as St.Mungo in Scotland, where he is the patron saint of St.Mungo's Cathedral in Glasgow. Legend has it that as a young man he performed four miracles, represented by four emblems:

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