St Marys Church (Rydal)

(See also Rydal , Rydal Hall)

St Mary's Parish Church interior Rydal by Barbara BallardThe Chapel of St Mary at Rydal was funded by Lady Le Fleming of Rydal Hall. Started in 1823, it was completed the following year. A tower, nave, and chancel make up the church, which has seen repairs and renovations during the 20th century. The ‘chapel’ has been dropped from its name. Located just down the hill from Wordsworth's home, Rydal Mount, he helped choose the church site, originally the Le Fleming orchard.

St Mary's Parish Church by Barbara BallardWordsworth wrote two poems (both undistinguished), one in honour of Lady Fleming and another when the foundation stone was laid. He was not pleased with the church, criticizing almost everything about the interior. In front of the pulpit is the Wordsworth pew where he and his family worshipped for 25 years until he died in 1850.

Rydal St Mary's Church by Don BurlurauxThe church gallery with its fireplace was once the private reserve of the Le Fleming family. An early 17th century chalice used in the church now resides in Carlisle Cathedral's treasury. The organ was built in 1807 by an Edinburgh firm and enlarged in 1870. In 1980 it was renovated and restored and is reputed to be the finest baroque organ in the diocese.

Rydal St Mary's Church by Don BurlurauxThere are a number of memorial windows in the church. The east one is dedicated to George Le Fleming, who died in 1877. On the south side is a window in memory of Dr. Thomas Arnold, headmaster of Rugby, and his wife, Mary. Another honours two stepdaughters of Dora Wordsworth, William's daughter. A third window on the south side commemorates one of Queen Victoria's physicians, Wilson Fox. There are also a number of memorial tablets in the church.

Rydal St Mary's Church courtesy Tony RichardSt Marys is located at Rydal one mile north of Ambleside on the A591.

Photos by Barbara Ballard and courtesy of Don Burluraux , Tony Richard

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