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St Cuthbert, Nether Denton, Cumberland

(54°58′27″N, 2°38′8″W)
Nether Denton
NY 594 646
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Cumberland
now Cumbria
medieval Carlisle
now Carlisle
  • James King
08 April 2017

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Feature Sets

In 1860 Whellan wrote that the church of Nether Denton was ‘a small unpretending structure’. Between 1868 and 1870 the church was rebuilt on the same site. In 1941, during clearance work in the churchyard, a stone cross carved with a figure in full-length attire was found embedded in the soil. This is now set up on the W interior wall of the nave.


This part of England was not covered by Domesday Book. In the Taxatio Ecclesiastica for 1291-92, the church was assessed as £3, 6s, 8d, of which £1, 13s, 4d was for the bishop of Carlisle and the same amount for the Priory of Lanercost. The church of Nether Denton was granted by Robert, son of Bueth, to St Mary’s Abbey at York and the monks of Wetheral. The same church, however, seems to have been given to Lanercost Priory. This led to difficulties, but it was finally agreed that Wetheral Priory would have one moiety of the church of Denton and Lanercost would have the other moiety. The church of ‘Dentun’, referring to Nether Denton, is mentioned in a charter dating from c. 1180, in which it was confirmed that William, clerk of Denton, was instituted to the church of Denton. A charter of Pope Honorius III, dated 1224, mentions the ‘Ecclesia de Denton inferiori’. In 1266, the prior and monks of Wetheral released their part to the bishop of Carlisle and his successors.

Nether Denton was in the possession of Hubert de Vallibus in the second half of the 12thc. Later, Eustace de Vallibus gave the estate to the family who took the name of Denton. In 1496, William Lord Dacre and John Denton of Denton Hall exchanged the manor of Warnell for that of Denton.


Loose Sculpture


Nothing is known about the medieval fabric of the church, and the cross with its figure stands out as different from most other crosses. No close likeness has been found elsewhere, and a date no earlier than the middle or 2nd half of the 12thc has been suggested. Although a general comparison may be made with the figures carved on a re-used Roman stone at Scaleby (Cumbria), it is not close enough either to assign or reject a similar date. The cross-type with splayed arms and a central disc certainly continued to be used well into the 12thc.


F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications: or, England’s Patron Saints, Vol. 3, London 1899, 105.

J. Bacon, Liber Regis vel Thesaurus Rerum Ecclesiasticarum, London 1786, 1196.

J. Denton, An Accompt of the most Considerable Estates and Families in the County of Cumberland, ed. R. Fergusson, Kendal 1887, 139-40.

W. Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum, New Edition, Vol. 3, London 1846, 587-88: no. XXVI; 592-3: no. XXXIV.

W. Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum, New Edition, Vol. 6 Part 1, London 1846, 236-37: no. 1; 237: no. 2.

R. Ellwood, ‘A Cross from Nether Denton Church’, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 2nd Series: 42 (1942), 149-52.

R. Ferguson, ‘The Barony of Gilsland and its Owners to the end of the Sixteenth Century’, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 1st Series: 4 (1880), 446-85.

T. Graham, ‘Analysis of the Denton Pedigree’, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 2nd Series: 34 (1934), 1-16.

T. Graham, ‘Brampton and Denton’, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 2nd Series: 26 (1926), 285-97.

W. Hutchinson, The History of the County of Cumberland, 1 (1794), 144-48.

M. Hyde and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Cumbria, New Haven and London 2010, 332-34.

J. Nicolson and R. Burn, The History and Antiquities of the Counties of Westmorland and Cumberland, Vol. 2, London 1777, 508-10.

J. Prescott (ed.), The Register of the Priory of Wetheral, London 1897, 73-77 : no. 34 and fn 3.; 198-99: no. 108 and fn.; 210-23: nos. 117 and fns., 119 and fns., 120 and fns., 121 and fns. ;.; 217-18: 121 and fns.; no. 122 and fns., no. 123 and fns., no. 124 and fns., no. 125 and fns., and no. 126 and fns.; and 422-3: no. XXV.

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, 249 and 674.