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St Michael and All Angels, Ainstable, Cumberland

(54°48′49″N, 2°43′58″W)
NY 530 468
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Cumberland
now Cumbria
medieval Carlisle
now Carlisle
  • James King
03 August 2015

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Feature Sets

Ainstable is a small village about 11 miles SE of Carlisle, and the church lies to the N of the village. The church of St Michael was rebuilt in the early part of the 19thc and again in 1870-1, the tower of that church being taken down in 1983. Inside the present church is a late 14th-c graveslab of John de Denton and a small Romanesque pillar piscina. There are also two effigies from St Cuthbert’s Church, Carlise, which were moved there when that church was taken down in 1778. No part of the medieval fabric appears to survive.


Domesday Book did not cover this part of England. Ainstable was in or adjoined to the Barony of Gilsland, which is likely to have taken its name from Gilbert son of Buet. In about 1157, King Henry II gave the barony of Gilsland to Hubert de Vallibus/de Vaux, who may have given the manor of Ainstable to Eustace de Vaux. The first mention of Ainstable (formerly called Aynstapellith and Eynstable) appears in the Pipe Rolls of 1178, with reference to an Oulf de Ainstable. The nunnery of Ermathwaite was founded in Ainstable at an unknown date, either in the late 11thc or, more likely, in the 12thc. Specific reference to it only first appears around 1200. At an early date, the church of St Michael was appropriated to the nunnery, which was dissolved in the 16thc. It appears that the nunnery supplied the chaplain for the church. In the Taxatio Ecclesiastica of about 1291, the church was valued at £10.9s.5d. and the vicarage at £5.4s.8d. In 1310, the vicar of the church, called Henry, appeared as a witness in a charter, and in the middle of that century, the burial ground of the church of St Michael’s was mentioned in the will of William, son of Christiana de Ainstable.



Piscinae/Pillar Piscinae


F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications: or, England’s Patron Saints, vol. 3, London 1899, 29.

T. Graham, ‘Manor of Ainstable’, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 2nd series: 20, Kendal 1920, 47-52.

T. Graham, ‘Nunnery’, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 2nd series: 17, Kendal 1917, 1-15.

W. Hutchinson, The History of the County of Cumberland, vol. 1, Carlisle 1794, 185-201.

M. Hyde and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Cumbria, New Haven and London 2010, 91.

J. Nicolson and R. Burn, The History and Antiquities of the Counties of Westmorland and Cumberland, vol. 2, London 1777, 429-32.

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

W. Whellan, The History and Topography of the Counties of Cumberland and Westmorland, Pontefract 1860, 504-8.