Ancient Churches of North Cumbria

Rural North Cumbria is full of history and has been far less touched by tourism than the Lakes to the south. We spotted a cluster of medieval churches and decided it was a good time to explore them.

The journey was simple and fairly quick - especially as there aren't too many tourists around in mid-September. Leaving the M6 north of Penrith we skirted the top of the national park until we reached the first church: St Michael and All Angels at Torpenhow. This Norman church was built in 1120 and has many typically Norman features such as the central arch. It also has an unusual 16th century wood panelled ceiling which is beautifully painted.
Torpenhow church
Interior with the Norman arch and panelled ceiling
Cherubs and other designs on the panelled ceiling

Our next stop was the Old Church at Ireby. Dating from the mid 12th century, the church is in fact outside the village and sits in the middle of a field. The recent heavy rain meant that the approach to the church was completely water-logged and we had to satisfy ourselves with a view from a distance.
Ireby Old Church

The third in our cluster of medieval churches was All Saints at Boltongate. Built in about 1400 to replace an earlier 12th century building, it has a feature which is unique in England: its nave has a stone, barrel-vaulted ceiling.
All Saints, Boltongate, with the lakeland hills in the distance
The unique stone, barrel-vaulted ceiling
We finished off with a trip into Carlisle and - of course - included a quick tour of the very fine Carlisle Cathedral. Building began in 1122, about the same time as the churches in Torpenhow and Ireby, but that is where the similarity ends. A fine day of ancient places of worship.
Carlisle's imposing cathedral

Beautifully painted ceiling, rather different from Torpenhow's
The delicately carved choir stalls