St Oswald's Church, Grasmere

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St Oswald's Church, Grasmere
St Oswalds' Church, Grasmere.jpg
St Oswald's Church, Grasmere, from the south
St Oswald's Church, Grasmere is located in Cumbria
St Oswald's Church, Grasmere
St Oswald's Church, Grasmere
Location in Cumbria
Coordinates: 54°27′27″N 3°01′25″W / 54.4575°N 3.0237°W / 54.4575; -3.0237
OS grid reference NY 337 074
Location Grasmere, Cumbria
Country England
Denomination Anglican
Website St Oswald, Grasmere
Dedication Saint Oswald
Associated people William Wordsworth
Status Parish church
Functional status Active
Heritage designation Grade I
Designated 21 January 1967
Architectural type Church
Style Gothic
Materials Roughcast stone, slate roofs
Parish Grasmere
Deanery Windermere
Archdeaconry Westmorland and Furness
Diocese Carlisle
Province York
Rector Revd Cameron Butland

St Oswald's Church is in the village of Grasmere, in the Lake District, Cumbria, England. It is an active Anglican parish church in the deanery of Windermere, the archdeaconry of Westmorland and Furness, and the diocese of Carlisle.[1] The church is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building.[2] It is notable for its associations with the poet, William Wordsworth and his family,[3] and for its annual ceremony of rushbearing.[4]


The first church in Grasmere was founded by Oswald of Northumbria, King of Northumbria, in 642. The present church stands on or near the same site, and is dedicated to him.[4] It dates from the 14th century,[2] and was doubled in size by the addition of a parallel nave to the north of the original nave between 1490 and 1500.[5] The roof was rebuilt in about 1562, which involved adding a second tier of arches to the arcade. The windows and doors were restored in 1840 by George Webster.[5]


St Oswald's is constructed in roughcast stone with slate roofs. Its plan consists of a double nave, with a south porch and a southeast tower. The tower is battered (its walls incline inwards as the tower rises), it has lancet windows, and plain corner pinnacles.[2][5]

Inside the church, the arcade has five arches rising from ground level, and four arches above. The arcade does not reach the ridge of the roof, but ends in the upper tie beams of the open timber roof. In the church is a poor box dated 1648, and a balustered altar rail of 1725. The pulpit is in Arts and Craft style, and carved with fruits and flowers. The font is medieval, and consists of an octagonal bowl on a stepped base. The stained glass includes a window on the north side of the church from about 1926 by Shrigley and Hunt, and two windows on the south side from the 1890s by Henry Holiday. There is medieval glass in windows on the south side of the chancel. The monuments include one to William Wordsworth by Thomas Woolner, with an epitaph by John Keble. There is also a wall tablet in the chancel in Doric style to the antiquary Daniel Fleming who died in 1701.[5]

The church has a sculpture of the Madonna and child by Ophelia Gordon Bell, who lived and worked in Grasmere.[6]

External features[edit]

Interior showing the two tiers of arches
Wordsworth graves

In the southeast corner of the churchyard is a group of twelve graves surrounded by railings. These are the graves of members of the Wordsworth and Quillinan families, and are listed at Grade II*.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ St Oswald, Grasmere, Church of England, retrieved 22 July 2012 
  2. ^ a b c Historic England, "Church of St Oswald, Grasmere (1245157)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 22 July 2012 
  3. ^ Home, Grasmere and Rydal Churches, retrieved 22 July 2012 
  4. ^ a b Grasmere, Grasmere and Rydal Churches, retrieved 22 July 2012 
  5. ^ a b c d Hyde, Matthew; Pevsner, Nikolaus (2010) [1967], Cumbria, The Buildings of England, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, pp. 374–375, ISBN 978-0-300-12663-1 
  6. ^ "Biography of Ophelia Gordon Bell". Heaton Cooper Studio. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  7. ^ Historic England, "Wordsworth group of graves in churchyard of Church of St Oswald, Grasmere (1272008)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 22 July 2012 

External links[edit]