Four Bears and a Devil

We found ourselves in Dacre, a lovely village between Penrith and Ullswater, and wanted to check out an interesting feature we had heard about.

Dacre's 12th century church is dedicated to St Andrew
The Dacre Bears are four sculptures that sit in the grave yard, some distance from each other. Not much is known of them although they are definitely older than the 12th century church, possibly dating back to the 7th century when there was a monastery of the site, or possibly dating back even further. Some people speculate that they are pre-Christian and have been in their current locations since Pagan times.

The sculptures are badly eroded and it is difficult to identify the subjects with any certainty.

A broad path arrives from nearby Dalemain mansion at a gate in the church yard

Entrance to the church yard

The impressive south door

Dacre Castle can be seen in the distance
From Dacre we crossed the A66 to Greystoke, another interesting village. The large medieval church is also dedicated to St Andrew but it was the east window, made of medieval glass, that we went to see.

It is believed to be the only east window in the country which has a picture of the Devil in it. The unmistakable red character is half way down on the left hand side of the huge window. The Devil is being trampled underfoot by a bishop.

Greystoke's medieval east window

The Devil being trampled underfoot

The story of the stained glass Devil has a twist. It is said that, in the 17th century, Cromwell's men were approaching the village and were expected to smash the stained glass windows, as they often did. The villagers hurriedly dismantled the window and buried the medieval glass fragments in the church yard, hoping to restore it in the near future.

It seems that after the Cromwell era was over, everyone forgot about the buried glass and it stayed buried for a couple of centuries. In 1848 the window was eventually restored. However, this huge jigsaw wasn't easy to solve and no-one knew what it originally looked like. Inevitably, there are some errors, some of which are easily spotted.

The Devil is thought to have come from another window where he was shown standing up in the Garden of Eden, tempting Adam and Eve. Whether that's true or not, the East Window is magnificent, even if it isn't quite the way it was before Cromwell's men arrived.