On our way back from Sedbergh we looked in on St Gregory’s Church, about a mile and a half west of the town. A simple, rustic building, it’s time as a functioning church was quite brief, barely 70 years.
It was originally built in the 1860s as a school-house and private chapel for the Upton family’s Ingmire Estate. Around that time a railway line was being built nearby and the company sent a scripture reader to the navvies. The Uptons offered the use of the chapel and soon local farmers were joining the congregation to hear the preaching. So impressed were they that they persuaded Miss Frances Upton to retain the preacher when the railway work came to an end.
In about 1900 the building was re-modelled and stained glass windows and high quality furnishings were added. There are three windows by Morris & Co, and several more by the London firm Campbell, Smith & Co. These are in a very different style and celebrate local rural scenes - rivers, trees, flowers, birds - whilst the William Morris windows are more traditional.
|Morris & Co's Fortitude with typical muted colours
|Campbell, Smith & Co's vibrant windows
An unusual feature of the church is that it 'faces the wrong way'. That is, when facing the altar you are not facing east, as is the tradition in church-building; you are facing south-west. This is probably because the building was not built as a church but was re-purposed to be converted into a church.
The church was consecrated in 1918 and became redundant in the 1980s. Fortunately, it is kept open for passers-by to enjoy.