Look carefully and you will discover a host of architectural features and points of interest that date back to the 12thcentury. From Anglo-Saxon engravings and the face of Edward Longshanks to some surprising trans-Atlantic connections; stained glass maple leaves and carvings of the ‘Stars and Stripes’, Barton Church is full of surprises – spanning both the millennia and the globe.

You can read about many of these features here and use the interactive church floor plan to locate features of particular interest to you so you know just where to look for them during your visit.

As William Wordsworth once wrote in his “Lyrical Ballads and Other Poems”, those who think may find a ‘tale in everything’. And that is certainly the case with beautiful Barton Church.

External Features

The Lychgate

The beautifully carved lychgate was erected in 1920 as a memorial to ten parishioners who fell in the war of 1914–18. It records with care not only the names of the dead but when each man died, their regiments or units, and the campaign or engagements in which they died. Learn more about the construction […]

The Porch

Built in the 17th century by Moses Sisson, whose initials MS used to be faintly visible on the doorstep. In the East wall there is a fragment of a late 13th century grave slab, with a cross and above it a fragment of 12th Century chevron ornament. The main doorway into the south aisle, with […]

Lowther Coat of Arms

Externally, above the keystone, is a shield of arms, placed there for Sir John Lowther in 1703, quartering the arms of Lowther with those of Lancaster, Beauchamp and Hartsop. Until 1644 the arms of Lowther were six annulets (three, two, one); in 1644 the hand of Ulster replaced the first annulet, signifying the baronetcy bestowed […]

Graveless headstones

In the north east corner of the cemetery between the vestry and the chancel is a mounting block. The present vestry was converted from a hearse-house and stable in 1953, and enlarged in 2005. Nearby, against the chancel wall, are the two oldest legible stones inthe graveyard, sadly divorced from their gaves. The stones and […]

Hartsop Hall Coat of Arms

On the East wall of the porch is a weathered coat of arms of Hartsop Hall, sketched here by Thomas Machell in 1680, when it stood over the door of the porch. NEED TO INSERT ORIGINAL SKETCH

Grave-less headstones

In the north-east  corner of the cemetery between the vestry and the chancel is a mounting block. The present vestry was converted from a hearse-house and stable in 1953, and enlarged in 2005. Nearby, against the chancel wall, are the two oldest legible stones in the graveyard, sadly divorced from their graves. The stones and […]

Internal Features

The Nave

In 1704 the nave of the Church was ‘put into very decent order’, Bishop Nicholson reported, ‘the Walls and Roof being made very good, the Floor levell’d and flagged’ – before then, the bare earth would have been annually strewn with rushes. During the previous century the south wall of the chancel had been rebuilt, and the south porch added. The chancel, porch and south aisle roofs must have been slated by the 17th century, because the porch and ‘isle’ roofs were ‘repaired’ in 1703, using sheep shanks as slate pins, and thirty- two cartloads of slate. In 1752, however, there was a parish levy for re-roofing of the nave, and in 1860 new flags were laid over earlier ones, unfortunately obscuring some ancient gravestones. 

A major restoration in 1903, under Revd Thomas Sharp, involved removal of the plaster ceilings, stripping plaster from the walls and pillars, pointing the stonework inside and out, erecting a new pulpit, and removing the gallery. It also created the new oak barrel-vaulting running east-west, in both nave and chancel, the form echoing the north-south vault of the tower. 

The Organ

The organ is relatively new. Bought in 1871, it first stood in the chancel, then in the south chapel, and reached its present position only in 1955. Before the organ was acquired, music was provided by violins and wind instruments (in 1752, 4 shillings were spent on a pitch pipe for the parish clerk to […]

The West Window: details

The stone-work of the west window is early 16th century. On the sofit of the rear arch is a panel with the monogram L.L. and opposite it, a shield of arms of Lancaster (oddly, upside down). The two ‘L’s may stand for Lancelot Lancaster, who put them there, but are likelier to celebrate the simultaneous […]

The West Window: The Annunciation

The early 20th-Century stained glass, representing St Michael and All Angels, and the Annunciation, is by Walter Ernest Tower (1873– 1955), partner and nephew of Charles Eamer Kempe (1837–1907). Both Kempe and Tower favoured pre-Raphaelite touches, especially in peacock-feather wings, and the Archangel wears the armour of a Plantagenet prince. Mary occupies the bottom right […]

The Tower

From beneath the tower, the courses in the stonework of the north and south walls match up clearly with the height at which the original narrow arches were cut away, probably in 1330, to be underpinned by much wider arches, spanning the whole width of the tower. The five foot deep arrow-slit window through the south wall, with steps, shows the strength of the tower. Before the construction of the south aisle this was an external window. Above the roughly-trowelled barrel-vault ceiling are two bells, presented in 1672 (one recast in 1868), inscribed ‘St Michaell for Barton’. 

The Royal Coat of Arms

The royal arms over the upper arch, dated 1730, are those of King George II. A small door (above left ) provided the original access to the tower and the bells.

The Double Arch

As you stand facing the altar and the double rounded arch supporting the Tower, you are in a Norman nave, built c. 1150, by the de Lancastre family of the Barony of Kendal. Building began under King Henry II, who was crowned in 1154, or during the civil war between King Stephen and Matilda, that […]

The Tower

The original chancel was shorter and lower. In about 1330, monks from the Priory of Watre rebuilt and enlarged it, giving it higher windows, including the stonework of the East window, and a less steeply pitched roof. At the same time, it is believed, the original narrow arch under the tower, just seven feet wide, […]

The Chancel

The chancel, enlarged in 1330, was described by Bishop Nicholson in 1704 as ‘vastly large’, though its floor was ‘very rugged’.  Its fabric was in a ruinous state for much of the 18th century—in 1787 it was almost roofless and windowless, ‘nor one window with glass in it’, according to Clarke’s famous Survey of the Lakes (1787) which added that ‘only a few years ago, Mr Hasell’s hounds actually killed a hare in it’. Many of the parish council’s expenditures relate to the killing of animals – in 1701 the parish paid 3 shillings and fourpence for a dead fox, one shilling for a wild cat, one for a brock and one for an eagle. The last such entry is in 1829 when 5 shillings were paid for two fox-heads. A century later, despite reconstruction in 1860, the floor was still uneven, and it was re-laid in 1903. The line of an earlier, lower and more steeply pitched roof can be clearly seen in the east wall of the tower.

The Frances Dawes Memorial

To the left of the East Window is a brass memorial to Frances Dawes, the wife of Lancelot Dawes’s grandson, also called Lancelot, who died in 1673. The theology of the poem is somewhat questionable, as one William Wordsworth pointed out in his ‘Essays upon Epitaphs’:  Under this stone, Reader, Interr’d doth lye, beauty and […]

The East Window: The Ascension

The stonework of the east window is 1330. In 1910 William Fothergill Winn of Bowerbank presented the marble floor of the sanctuary, while the stained glass of the memorial window to Colonel Parkin of Sharrow Bay, dates from 1913 and depicts the Ascension and Christ as the good shepherd. On the wooden panelling below the […]

Memorial to Richard Wordsworth

A small brass on the north wall (retrieved from a hidden slab in 1903) is to Richard Wordsworth of Sockbridge House, the poet’s grandfather; another, on the south wall, is to Ann, his aunt, who married Revd Thomas Myers, curate and schoolmaster.

13th Century grave slab

On the south side, immediately east of the choir stalls, an early grave slab of c. 1300, possibly broken when the chancel wall was rebuilt, has a diamond ‘cross’ with remnants of fleur-de-lys terminals.

Christofer de Lancastre

No brasses remain in the chancel floor, but gravestones found at a lower level during the 1903 restoration were relaid in the new floor. On the north side, is a 14th century coffin lid, with an ornamental cross in high relief, sword and a shield of Lancaster inscribed Christofer de La[ncastre] and with the word […]

The Chapel

A Celtic wheel?

On the left side of the south window of the aisle is a fragment of primitive carving , perhaps from the time of St Kentigern. If this simple engraving resembles a ‘solar cross’, its six spokes also suggest the Celtic wheel associated with Taranis, or Thor. But it could also be a crude attempt at […]

16th Century Sarcophagus?

Below the window is a superb late sixteenth-century panel, perhaps originally part of a sarcophagus, carved with a rosette, fleur de lys, birds, rose-bushes, trees and scrolls. Roses, jackdaws and scrolls also appear in the ceiling of Barton Kirke (dated 1585) and on the Dawes coat of ams with its familial ‘daws’ or jackdaws.

The ‘Stars and Stripes’

Left of the east window, the capital at the east end of the arch has a shield of the arms of Lancaster (argent, two bars gules, with a mullet representing the rowel of a spur). These arms were adapted by George Washington’s forebear, William de Wessyngton, whose shield featured three mullets ‘in chief’, i.e placed […]

East Window lintel

The lintel of the east window is an early 13th century grave slab withfaintly incised cross and sword.

Wordsworth Family Memorials

Other memorials in the South Chapel commemorate John Wordsworth, the poet’s cousin, born in Yorkshire in 1754, and his wives Anne Gale and Elizabeth Littledale, both from Whitehaven. John was a captain in the East India Company (as was the poet’s brother). He died of yellow fever on board The Atlantic out of Whitehaven and […]

William Davyes Memorial

The impressive stone inscribed WD 1674,beneath the south window, commemorates William Davyes of Winder Hall and a trusteeof the Grammar School. Davyes married Barbara Lancaster, the third daughter of the last Christopher Lancaster of Sockbridge Hall.

12th Century Piscine

In the South Chapel, between the south and east windows is a piscine (shown here). Its drain is cut in a late 12th century capital, with water-leaf foliage, once used as a whetstone for sharpening blades. Its head is tracery, also recycled, from a 14th Century window.

The Holy Water Stoup

Immediately to the left of the south door, c. 1300, is a 16th century holy water stoup (damaged), used by those entering by this door for purposes of ritual purification.

The Shield of Lancaster

The south wall is pierced by an arch, c. 1330, through to the chapel, first built as a monks’ chantry, and subsequently used for burials and then as a vestry. East of the arch is the upper arch of a doorway and the remains of a window, both 13th century. At the re-opening of the […]

The North Aisle

In the 18th and 19th centuries there was a gallery over the north aisle, a line of box pews ran through the tower into the chancel (the pulpit stood on the right of the arch), and the plaster walls were lime- washed to deal with smoke from the suspended oil lamps.

The Canadian Connection

Picture by Steven Barber Picture by Steven Barber Picture by Steven Barber

De Courcy Parry Memorial

The face of Edward I?

The moulded capitals, corbels and bases of the North aisle, date from 1280. The head on the eastern one may represent Edward I (Edward Longshanks) whose reign (1272–1307) began shortly before the aisle was built. The eyebrows certainly match those in his portrait in Westminster Abbey!

The 13th Century Font

The elegant octagonal 13th century font, visibly repaired in lead, has a simple 14th century wooden cover. Just about here the staircase led to the 18th century gallery.

The North Aisle columns

As you stand facing the altar, on your left is the north aisle, featuring quatrefoil pillars, built c. 1280, in the reign of King Edward I.

The South Aisle

The South Aisle columns

As you stand facing the altar, on your right is the south aisle, with octagonal pillars. This was built in about 1250 and leads to the south chapel, added in 1300 as a chantry for the singing of mass.