St Lawrence Church (Crosby Ravensworth)

(See also Crosby Ravensworth)

Crosby Ravensworth church exterior by Barbara Ballard Destinations-UK-IrelandThe first mention of a church where St Lawrence now stands is in 1109. It was probably a wooden building and may have been destroyed in a Scottish border raid. In 1150 a late Norman church was built. The evidence for this Norman church exists in the clustered piers at the corners of the crossing and in the north aisle's projecting capitals. The church was restyled in 1240. The floor was raised; new arches were built with slender columns and a south aisle was added. The transepts and chancel were restored and a new high pitched roof was added.

Crosby Ravensworth church interior by Barbara Ballard Destinations-UK-IrelandFurther rebuilding and restyling occurred around 1490. At this time the transepts were removed and a new tower and chantry chapel were built from the tower stone in the Perpendicular style. Round topped windows were added where the nave and chancel roofs met.

More restoration took place c1800 when the exterior walls were in precarious condition. The tower had a break where a tree was growing out of it and had to have the upper part removed and rebuilt. At the time battlements were added. The chantry chapel and chancel also underwent restoration. A south porch was constructed as well as a lower pitched roof. Whitewash was used to cover the interior.

Crosby Ravensworth church interior by Barbara Ballard Destinations-UK-IrelandIn the latter part of the 19th century the vicar raised funds to restore the church to its former cruciform shape and helped to save the original features of the 13th century building where they still existed.

A Tour of the Church

  1. Note over the outer porch door the names of the 1811 masons who worked on the church. The inner doorway dates from the 1200s.
  2. The nave with its three-arched arcade is from the 12th century. The south aisle, narrower than the north, is known as the Meaburn side (from the Lowther family of Meaburn Hall).
  3. At the crossing a pillar on the north side has one capital lower than the others; this pillar is late Norman.
  4. The north aisle is the location of a font. The north door and window have the coat of arms of George Sewell. Other windows are in memory of others associated with the church and area.
  5. The Gibson transept is the location of the organ where the original was built by George Gibson.
  6. The chantry houses the altar tomb of Sir Lancelot Threlkeld. Members of the Lowther family are buried in a vault beneath the chantry. On the floor are the dates 1683 and 1689. On the east end window are the arms of the Threlkeld family.
  7. The sanctuary rails and lamp brackets were made by a village blacksmith.
  8. The Dent chapel is a family chapel with an oak processional cross.
  9. The pews in the south aisle are thought to come from Swindale chapel in the 1870s.
    Evidence of the raising of the roof can be seen in this aisle.
  10. The north aisle and transept are from the mid Victorian period.
  11. The vestry dates from the early 1850s.
  12. The east front dates from the 1870s and is in the Victorian gothic style. There are carved heads here.
  13. The south transept was constructed on the foundations of the original church. There is a Dent family vault below.
  14. The tower: note the carved finial of a man swallowing a mouse and the gargoyles. The clock is from 1842.

A 7th century stone cross, said to be the focus of Christian worship by St Paulinus, is an important relic. The church is surrounded by ancient oak trees.

Photos by Barbara Ballard

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