St Michaels Church (Burgh by Sands)

(See also Burgh by Sands)

Burgh by Sands St Michaels Church West Tower by Barbara BallardSt Michaels church in Burgh by Sands is built within a Roman fort, Aballava, on Hadrians wall. It is thought one of the forts central buildings a granary or headquarterswas here. Stones from the Roman buildings were used in the churchs construction. In the east wall of the church is a stone with the carving of a pagan Celtic head of probable Roman origin.

Although the dedication of the church goes back to the 12th century the present buildings construction time is not known. It was restored in 1881 when the battlemented flat roof was added. The church and surrounding land was the property of Holme Cultram abbey in 1200, but its history goes back at least 50 years sooner.

Burgh by Sands St Michaels Church interior by Graeme DougalOnly the main doorway remains from the 12th century. The chancel was lengthened in the 13th century. Historians believe the original chancel was semi-circular.

Edward I's body was laid out at the church after his death in the village on July 7, 1307 while on a campaign fighting the Scots. A window on the south side of the church honours him. Other stained glass windows are of St Cuthbert, St Kentigern and St Ninian.

Burgh by Sands St Michaels Church iron door to fortified tower by Graeme DougalAfter Edwards death, warring continued and it was necessary for the locals to have a place of refuge during raids. The western tower, thought to be of the 14th century, was built for this purpose. Its seven-foot thick walls were constructed with no exterior door and only arrow slits and small windows. An iron gridded door, almost seven feet high, guards the tower opening. The tower is one of three such in Cumbria, the other two being at Newton Arlosh and Great Salkeld.

At the other end of the church a fortified house was built c1380 for the use of the vicar. In the early 1700s it was used as a school. It is now used as the vestry.

Burgh by Sands St Michaels Church by Graeme DougalIn the church grounds are yew and lime trees, planted in 1840. One yew trees marks where an old gate once stood.

Burgh by Sands is on a minor road five miles northwest of Carlisle. (Leave Carlisle by the B5307)

Photos by Barbara Ballard and courtesy of Graeme Dougal

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