St. Andrew's Church, Penrith, Cumbria, England

St. Andrew's Church of England at Penrith, Cumbria, England


St Andrew’s Church is the ancient Church of England parish church of Penrith Parish, situated in the center of Penrith and is the largest church of the four parishes which make up the Penrith Team Ministry. In the churchyard are two monuments, each of which has been scheduled.

One monument is known as the Giant’s Grave, and dates from the 10th century. It consists of two Anglo-Saxon cross shafts and four hogbacks, which have been in their present arrangement since at least 1664–65. The other, known as the Giant’s Thumb, also dates from the 10th century. It consists of a single sandstone Anglo-Saxon cross shaft set on a modern sandstone base, which was erected here in 1887. It has a wheel head, and carving on its sides. Also in the churchyard is a monument dated 1846 to the memory of those who built the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway in Gothic Revival style, listed at Grade II.

A church has stood on this site since 1133, and the present church was built in 1720, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, a pupil of Christopher Wren, and modeled on St Andrew’s Holborn. The tower remains from the original 13th century church, and has walls six feet thick, and was probably used as a pele tower. The organ was said when it was installed to be one of the finest in the North of England. The church has an interesting stained-glass East Window by Hardman and Powell, inserted in 1870. It is surrounded by murals painted in 1844 by a local artist, Jacob Thompson.

In the graveyard is the ‘Giant’s Thumb’, a Norse cross dating from 920 AD, and erected as a memorial to his father by Owen Caesarius, King of Cumbria from 920 to 937 AD. There is a tradition that the ‘Giant’s Grave’ is the grave of Owen himself. The four hogback stones surrounding the grave are said to represent wild boar he killed in nearby Inglewood Forest. The two norse crosses are some 11 feet high. Nearby is the grave of John and Mary Hutchinson, parents of William Wordsworth‘s wife Mary.


Penrith information:
Penrith is 289 miles from London.

Penrith, Cumbria, England, is where St. Andrew’s Church is. Penrith is a market town and in the county of Cumbria, England. Penrith lies less than 3 miles (5 km) outside the boundaries of the Lake District National Park. Historically a part of Cumberland, the local authority is Eden District Council, which is based in the town. Penrith was formerly the seat of both Penrith Urban and Rural District Councils. Penrith has no town council of its own, and is an unparished area.

It is in the Eden Valley, just north of the River Eamont. Other local rivers bounding the town are the River Lowther and the River Petteril. A partially man-made watercourse, known as Thacka Beck, flowing through the centre of the town, connects the Rivers Petteril and Eamont. For many centuries, the Beck provided the town with its main water supply. Thacka Beck nature reserve provides flood storage which protects homes and businesses in Penrith.

The main church is St. Andrew’s, built from 1720 to 1722 in an imposing Grecian style, abutting an earlier 13th-century tower. The churchyard has some ancient crosses and hogback tombstones in it known now as “Giant’s Grave”, and “Giant’s Thumb” which is the remains of a Norse cross dated to 920 AD.

The ruins of Penrith Castle (14th-16th centuries) can be seen from the adjacent railway station. The castle is run as a visitor attraction by English Heritage. To the south-east of the town are the more substantial ruins of Brougham Castle, also under the protection of English Heritage.

To the south of the town are the ancient henge sites known as Mayburgh Henge and King Arthur’s Round Table. Both are under the protection of English Heritage.
In the centre of the town is the Clock Tower, erected in 1861 to commemorate Philip Musgrave of Edenhall. Hutton Hall, on Folly Lane, preserves a 14th-century pele tower at the rear, attached to an 18th-century building. The Gloucester Arms public house, formerly known as Dockray Hall, is said to date from c1470 and may incorporate the remains of another pele tower.

Penrith has been noted for the number of wells in and around the town, and well-dressing ceremonies were commonplace on certain days in the month of May. Three miles south-east of the town, on the River Eamont are the “Giants’ caves”, where the well was dedicated to St. Ninian. The caves are enlarged out of Lower Permian sandstones and their associated breccias and purple shales.

Just to the north of the town is the wooded signal-beacon hill, naturally named Beacon Hill, but originally called Penrith Fell. It last use was probably in 1804 in the war against Napoleon. Traditionally, the Beacon Pike was used to warn of approaching danger from Scotland. Today, although surrounded by commercial woodland owned by Lowther Estates, the hill still contains some natural woodland and is a popular local and tourist attraction. On a clear day the majority of the Eden Valley, the local fells, Pennines and parts of the North Lakes can be seen. It is almost certain that the Beacon Hill gave Penrith its name – in Celtic – of “red hill”.

St. Andrew's Church, Penrith, Cumbria, England

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