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St Bride, Kirkbride, Cumberland

(54°54′16″N, 3°12′14″W)
NY 229 573
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Cumberland
now Cumbria
medieval Carlisle
now Carlisle
medieval St Bride
now St Bride
  • James King
04 Oct 2016

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The small church is built of coursed, roughly-ashlared stones. It is dedicated to St Bride, a shortened form of Bridget, who was an early Irish saint. The plan of the church consists of nave, square-ended chancel and W bellcote. The original chancel seems to have been shorter and was extended at a later date. In 1703, Bishop Nicolson described the condition of the church as ‘nasty’. Substantial work was carried out on the church in 1895-9, at which time the chancel was substantially rebuilt re-using some of the original stones. There is also a later porch off the S side of the nave and a 20thc vestry off the S side of the chancel. All early features within the building - chancel arch, doorway and windows - are carved plain. Only the loose font bowl is carved with any decoration.


The Domesday Book does not cover this part of England. Although Bridekirk was in the diocese of Carlisle, which came into being in 1133, it is not entirely clear which ecclesiastical centre had it in its care prior to this. Bridekirk falls within medieval Allerdale, which was in the control of Waltheof, son of Gospatrick. Hutchinson (1794) stated that ‘Waldeof’ (i.e. Waltheof), baron of Allerdale, gave Odard de Logis the lordship of Wigton, which included the manor of Kirkbride. This would have occurred in the first half of the 12thc. During the reign of King John, the manor of Kirkbride was granted to Adam, son of Ada, by Adam lord of Wigton. The church in Kirkbride was valued at £6 in the 1291/2 taxatio. In 1543, Thomas Dalston purchased the manor of Kirkbride (and others). It remained with the Dalston family until it was sold to Joseph Wilson about 1764. The church was rectorial and the advowson seems always to have been appended to the manor.


Exterior Features



Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches




Dates for the earliest parts of the church, including the chancel arch, have been suggested as both Anglo-Saxon and Norman. As Whiteside wrote in 1899, “It has been confidently asserted that the chancel arch is Saxon. No doubt it is at least early Norman”. Hyde and Pevsner described the font in a Norman context, but without suggesting a more specific time-period. Cox stated that the earliest parts of the church were early Norman and that the church structure included re-used Roman stone. It does seem not unlikely that the present church was built no later than the earlier part of the 12thc.

In his article of 1899, Whiteside stated that the loose font had been dug up in the rectory garden in 1813 and that it had previously been described as a piscina (see also: Bower, 1893). But Whiteside pointed out that there is no drainage hole and suggested instead that it was more likely to have been used as a holy water stoup. He also commented that this might not have been its original use and that ‘“Some consider it to be the fragment of an ancient cross, which is not unlikely”. From 1813 until 1895 it was fixed on a bracket on the N wall of the chancel. The font is certainly enigmatic. The lower section appears to have been cut back and the upper section is either cut back or very worn (or both), which makes it impossible to know how tall it originally was. The very flat back face does seem to suggest that the stone was intended to be placed in front of or attached to a wall. The decoration, which includes dogtooth, also suggests that the carved stone is likely to be later than the construction of the church.


F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications: or, England’s Patron Saints, Vol. 3, London 1899, 171, 344.

R. Bower, ‘Piscinas in the Diocese of Carlisle’, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 1st series: 12 (1893), 206-11.

J. Cox, County Churches: Cumberland and Westmorland, London 1913, 98.

T. Graham, ‘The Kirkbrides of Kirkbride’, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 2nd series: 15 (1915), 63-75.

W. Hutchinson, The History and Antiquities of Cumberland, Vol. 2, London 1794, 108, 482-3.

M. Hyde and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Cumbria, New Haven and London 2010, 455-6.

Taxatio Ecclesiastica Angliae et Walliae Auctorite P. Nicholai IV. circa A.D. 1291, London 1802.

J. Whiteside, ‘Kirkbride Church’, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 1st series: 15 (1899), 145-60.