We use cookies to improve your experience, some are essential for the operation of this site.

St Mary, Cumrew, Cumberland

(54°50′43″N, 2°42′8″W)
NY 550 503
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Cumberland
now Cumbria
medieval Carlisle
now Carlisle
medieval St Mary
now St Mary
  • James King
03 Aug 2015

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=14470.

Find out how to cite the CRSBI website here.


Cumrew lies 13 miles E of Carlisle. St Mary’s church was extensively repaired by John Calvert, curate of the church(1679-1690). Later, in 1814, a W tower was erected. The small church was entirely rebuilt in 1890. Carved stones from the 12thc can be seen re-used on both the interior and exterior outer walls of a neighbouring building, now a private house, and these stones are believed to have originally formed part of the medieval church. Previous to it being made into a house, the building was used for storage. The N exterior wall of the house contains a number of carved stones, but the carving of several of these cannot easily be determined, as another building N of the house has subsequently been built close to it. There is no early reference to the building before it was made into a house, but suggestions for the date of its construction have been put forward as late-16thc or 17thc.


Domesday Book did not cover this part of England. Cumrew was in the Barony of Gilsland, which may have taken its name from Gilbert son of Buet. In about 1157, King Henry II gave the barony to Hubert de Vallibus/de Vaux. Alan ‘de Cumreu’ begins to appear as early as 1212. He went on to witness a number of charters involving the priory of Wetheral and appears also in the Register of Lanercost. His son, Adam, gave various gifts to the priory at Wetheral, beginning in about 1225, and witnessed various other charters. Then, about 1240, a chaplain of Cumrew is mentioned and Adam of Cumrew is called: 'milite’ (soldier/knight). In 1269 Adam de Cumrew is again listed as a witness to a charter of King Henry III. After Adam, in the later 13thc, William ‘de Kirketon’ is found as Lord of Cumrew.

Thomas de Multon, through marriage to Maud de Vallibus, became overlord of Cumrew. He was dead by 1271. His son Thomas de Multon II succeeded, but it appears that Maud de Vallibus continued to retain certain powers in Gilsland until her death in the 1290s. Thomas de Multon, second baron of Gillsland of this name, died in 1293. His son and heir, Thomas de Multon, died in 1295, succeeded by his son Thomas Multon, but on the latter’s death in 1313 there was no male offspring. His daughter Margaret thus became successor. She subsequently married Ranulph de Dacre about 1317, which brought the overlordship of Gilsland into the hands of the Dacre family. In 1333, the Scots ravaged parts of Cumbria, including the lands of the barony of Gilsland, though it is uncertain whether this affected Cumrew. The first Dacre lords were not known, however, to have been styled ‘de Gilsland’ until a later Ranulph de Dacre was referred to as ‘Ranulpho Dacre de Gilleslond chivaler’ in about 1460. Humphrey de Dacre had become the chief lord by 1485.The church of Cumrew is listed in the papal tax rolls of 1291-2 for £4. 10s. 0d. In 1355, Gilbert Welton, bishop of Carlisle, made inquiry into various churches and chapels, including that at Cumrew, which were held by John de Horncastle, prior of Carlisle Priory. The priory of Carlisle was surrendered to the crown in the 31st year of Henry VIII. In its place was erected a dean and chapter. Amongst other places, the king granted that they have the rectory and advowson of the church at Cumrew, which had belonged previously to the priory.


Exterior Features

Interior Features


There are at least three forms of chevron re-used on the house: i) that carved with a sunken roll flanked by a cavetto, all with a single carved chevron; ii) that carved with a simple sunken roll carved in zig-zag fashion; and iii) that carved with a sunken roll with smaller cavetto and prominent edge between the roll and cavetto. The first of these, although not always obviously carved as voussoirs, may be part of a larger arch. The employment of the second type is less certain and could have been part of an arch, a stringcourse or imposts. The original use of the third type is uncertain, with a range of possibilties as for those of the second chevron type.

The chip-carved stones fall into two groups: those that are carved in a straight line and those carved along a curved stone. This suggests there was an arch with this decoration and either a stringcourse or impost with the same motif. The chamfered edges on the curved stones make it probable that they formed labels, rather than a main archivolt. The stone carved with a series of circular motifs also appears to have been part of an arch. Like the curved stones with chip-carving, because of the upper and lower chamfer, it is more likely to have been used as a label than an archivolt. The variety of stones and their possible uses suggest that they come from more than one arch and that there may have been either decorative stringcourses or imposts, or both.


F. Arnold-Forster, Studies in Church Dedications: or, England’s Patron Saints, 3, London 1899, 101.

T. Bulmer, History, Topography, and Directory of Cumberland, 2nd ed., Preston 1901, 157.

Calendar of the Charter Rolls: Henry III - Edward I, A.D. 1257-1300, 2, London 1906,124-5.

J. Campbell, A Study of Stone Sculpture in Cumberland and Westmorland c.1092-1153 within a historical context, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Edinburgh 2008.

J. Cox, County Churches, Cumberland and Westmorland, London 1913, 73.

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, 4 (1880), 446-84.

J. Nicolson and R. Burn, The History and Antiquities of the Counties of Westmorland and Cumberland, 2, London, 1777, 302, 332, 510-11.

W. Nicholson, Miscellany Accounts of the Diocese of Carlile: with the Terriers Delivered to Me at my Primary Visitation, R. Ferguson (ed.), London 1877, 111.

M. Hyde and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Cumbria, New Haven and London 2010, 319.

J. Prescott (ed.), The Register of the Priory of Wetherhal, London 1897, 225 no. 127 and fn. 7, 226 no. 128, 228 no. 131, 229 no. 132, 245 no. 143, 253 no. 150, 256-7 nos. 153-4, 265 no. 159, 267 nos. 160-1, 271 no. 164, 274 no. 167, 274 no. 167, 288-9 nos. 179-80, 295 no. 185, and 307 no. 194 fn. 2.

Taxatio Ecclesiastica Angliae et Walliae Auctorite P. Nicholai IV. circa A.D. 1291, London 1802, 319.

E. Venables, “The Dedications of the Parochial Churches and Chapels of the Modern Diocese of Carlisle”, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, VII (1884), 118-149.

W. Whellan, The History and Topography of the Counties of Cumberland and Westmorland, Pontefract 1860, 672.

H. Whitehead, “Cumberland Parish Registers”, Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, XIV pt. 1, (1896), 222.

J. Wilson (ed.), The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Cumberland, 2, London 1905.

T. Wright, J. Cumming, and H. Martineau, The History and Topography of the Counties of Cumberland and Westmorland, London 1860, 672.