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" Keswick's Crossthwaite Church "

Date & start time:      27th April 2024.  1.30 pm start.

Location of Start :     Crossthwaite Church, Keswick, Cumbria, Uk. ( NY 143 211).

Places visited :          The Church and Graveyard.

Walk details :              A guided visit around the Church and grounds with the History Society.

Highest point :           Discovering what is in plain sight.

Walked with :              Mark Hatton, myself and Loes, plus about fifteen other members.

Weather :                     Dry and sunny.



© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. Licence number PU 100034184.


The ancient Crossthwaite Church stands on High Hill on the northern outskirts of Keswick.

The Lorton and Derwent Fells Local History Society had organised a guided walk here today

so Loes and I take the opportunity to go along and learn more about history of this important building.

" Crosthwaite Church has a long history and it is thought that Christians have worshipped on this site for nearly 1500 years.

This church is dedicated to St Kentigern, also known as St Mungo in Scotland, who had been driven out of Glasgow

and set up his cross in a clearing or Thwaite in 553AD – hence the name Crosthwaite."

- - - o o o - - -


Meet our guide today, Mr Mark Hutton.


He started his talk by offering the thought that

to look at gravestones was not actually morbid.


They don't just mark the final resting place of loved ones.

They were meant to be read.


By recording the names of the people and outlining basic facts about them

it keeps the memory of them alive, giving those people virtual immortality.


To read memorials is therefore to remember those that have gone before,

which is surely what they we designed to do ?


- - - o o o - - -

To understanding the inscriptions and carvings we must also think about the times in which they were made.

Early graves were noteable by their large horizontal tombs, but this later changed to vertical headstones.

One of the carvings (above) represents a skull and is about overcoming death and entering the life ever after.

Vertical stones point the way to Heaven (and presumably cost less) and the best surviving examples are made of Cumbrian Slate.

This is the Cherry Stone, so called because it remembers Joseph Cherry of Keswick.

It outlines him and his family, many of whom died later than he did.   Stones like this are sometimes made later than the original burial,

perhaps when the family could afford it.  Large tombstones also allowed other names to be added later, in order to link the family together.

The slate rock takes carving particularly well and so this stone is still full of detail, with the tree of life, old Father Time

and broken buildings representing the passage of time itself . . . (note the intricate three dimensional carvings of the scythe).

The detail was exquisite, but I guess the mason must have been annoyed when someone pointed out  that the age of one of the children was wrong !

More slate memorials, every word still readable.
Other have weathered badly, but these may have originally been inside.

The head with wings of an angel was often carved to represents the age of the deceased.

The one on the wall at the back is for a much younger child.

The Stonemason and carver of the best slate stones is himself buried in the Churchyard.

The William Bromley family were famous stone masons and the family business still exists in Keswick to this day, albeit under different ownership.

The Bromleys were also famous for carving Celtic Memorials.
This one has a particularly noteable heritage.

- - - o o o - - -


" Her lies Hardwick Drummond Rawnsey

and his wife Edith."


Cannon Rawnsey was Vicar of Crossthwaite Church

for 34 years and was famous for being a politician and

a founding member of The National Trust


" Canon Rawnsley and his wife Edith also founded the Keswick School

of Industrial Arts (KSIA), where she was thought to be the driving force.

There are numerous examples of her designs and work

both in the church and outside."



- - - o o o - - -



- - - o o o - - -


Another memorial

remembers Jonathan Otley

who died 1856 aged 90 years.


He was famous for being the author of

"A descriptive Guide to the English Lakes

and adjacent mountains."

with particular reference to the

" Botany, Mineralogy and Geology of the District "


He was a fountain of local knowledge

and in his day, offered lectures and guided walks.


 - - - o o o - - -

The Church is also famous for being the final resting place of another famous Keswick Resident.


We followed Mark full circle around the graveyard

and close to the church came across another slate memorial

this time to Robert Southey, one of the Lakeland Poets.


- - - o o o - - -

- - - o o o - - -

Robert Southey was famous as a Poet Laureate

(from 1813 till his death in 1843)

but his talents extended further than that.

He was a geographer, historian, journalist and biographer.


A measure of his esteem worldwide can be guessed at

by the small stone plaque alongside his tomb

noting that his grave was restored by the Brazilian Government.

( he's thought to have written the first history of their country).

- - - o o o - - -


- - - o o o - - -


Uncertain about where to start your exploration . . .


. . . a notice board entry in the foyer

outlines noteable graves and their positions for you find them.


- - - o o o - - -

- - - o o o - - -


We're back to the front of the Church


High on the south facing wall

An ancient 1602 slate sundial

which pre-dates the 'single hand' mechanical clock

seen on the Church's Bell Tower.


- - - o o o - - -


After we had completed our walk around outside,

Mark took us into the church . . .


- - - o o o - - -

Through the ancient and very solid, wooden front door.
. . . into what is a much bigger church than first appeared.

It was the Mother Church for the large part of north Cumbria, hence its size.

With the wool and metal industries of Keswick, it was quite a wealthy one too.

The East window has 19th century stained glass depicting, amongst others, St Kentigern himself.

The chandeliers were made of copper, designed and manufactured by Rawnsey's Keswick School of Industrial Arts.

Likewise the ornate reredos tryptic at the back of the alter, the white altar frontals, the pulpit, and the church gates are all Keswick Industrial.

- - - o o o - - -

The church was significantly modernised in 1844

partly with donations raised after Southey's death.

All the internal graves within the church were re-interred outside

and the uneven floor re-laid. 

[ Under-floor heating was also added at that time.]

The old idea of being buried inside the church was to be closer to God

and also to prevent grave robbers or animals digging up the deceased.


The only grave now left inside the main church, close under the alter,

was that of a local benefactor Edward Stephenson, Governor of Bengal.

- - - o o o - - -

The oldest stained glass in the church is that small, top fragment.
Alabaster effigies of Thomas Radcliffe and his wife Margaret.

Mark pointed out the white marble effigy of Robert Southey, with an inscription below, written by Wordsworth.

This is an additional memorial, we've already visited his grave outside.

- - - o o o - - -

Southey's Memorial plaque.


Another memorial on the adjacent wall

is to the Jacksons of Armboth Hall.

Those that looked at my Thirlmere Walk  back in March

may recognise the name of Mary Jackson

and of her husband, Count Ossalinsky.

- - - o o o - - -

We returned to the back of the church, where the Church organ dates from 1837.

It was modernised in 1920 in memory of those who died in the First World War.

- - - o o o - - -


A plaque close by also remembers the arrival of electricity in the Church,

first switched on, on the 4th March 1900,

" the Sunday succeeding the relief of Ladysmith".


The first hydro electricity generated for the town

was apparently generated from the water power still available

at the site of the original copper smelter and works

at Forge Lane, below Low Brierly on the River Greta.

[Top of town near Travis Perkins today]


- - - o o o - - -

- - - o o o - - -


At the back of the Church is an area known as the Baptistry.



- - - o o o - - -


In this are we found the ancient Font, used for Baptisms.


The stone base has carvings that hark back to

the days of early Catholicism, if not even earlier

to Pagan times.


With the rise of Protestantism following Henry VIII reformation,

many of the lower designs were vandalised by zealous

Protestants of the day.


The various faces of the Font have carved designs,

the one seen here on the right is of The Green Man

representing new growth following on from death,

yet another indication in the belief of "Life after Death".

(A larger photo is shown below)


- - - o o o - - -

Look for the face of a man (central) and the new growth in the form of trees, growing from his mouth.

One last treasure discovered by Mark and now normally kept locked away

is a "Crystal Box" with a model of Crossthwaite Church set within it.

The background to the "picture" is made up of a collection of crystals and ores probably found by the German Miners when working in the area.

This form of handy work art would have provided them with a hobby when it was impossible to go underground and do their mining work.

- - - o o o - - -


Last one out please shut the door . . .


but before we do there's a strange piece of wood

in a hole in the wall.


Being nosey I pulled it out and found a sturdy oak beam

that fitted across the inside of the door.


- - - o o o - - -

The oak baton acts as an internal door lock, the wedge on the string dropping in behind it to hold the door tightly shut.

This, and the strength of the oak door would keep raiders and vagabonds out and the people sheltering inside, safe from attack.

- - - o o o - - -

May I say a big than you to the History Society and to Mark in particular, for such an interesting afternoon.

Thanks also to those that provided the group with tea and refreshments afterwards in the adjacent School Hall.

I will view any subsequent visits we make to the Church in a totally new light.

- - - o o o - - -

Technical note: Pictures taken with my iPhone 11pro mobile phone camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

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Previous walk - 26th April 2024 - Muncaster Fell

A previous time up here - 27th August - A Bog House Walk