St Michael and All Angels, Hawkshead - a bit of History.
The Clock Appeal
Here is a bit of the background to the sturdy beauty of Hawkshead Church, where there has been a place of Christian worship and prayer for over 800 years. This information is also available in the church itself, which is open for visitors during the day.
was a chapel on this site in the 12th century, which was
enlarged to its present length about 1300. It was widened
in 1500 by the addition of the two side aisles (see plan:
1&2) with their massive pillars and round arcades,
which are found nowhere else in
Sandys was born near Hawkshead in 1519. He
had to flee the country during the reign of the Roman
Catholic Queen Mary Tudor but, when
About the same time, 1585, the roof of the nave was raised and clerestory windows - four on each side - were installed to give extra light. The clerestory windows on the north side (4) still have their Elizabethan oak frames and mullions. Those to the south had to be replaced with stone after only fifty years (you can see the datestone, 1663 (5), high upon the wall). The oak beams of 1585 still support the roof of the nave.
The framed texts painted on the walls
kind of decoration was widespread in the 17th
1680 James Addison of Hornby, near
The 19th Century
1870s repairs were urgently needed and 1875 saw the start
of some far-reaching repair work and restoration. Between
1875 and 1900 the lime render was stripped from the
outside walls to be replaced by Portland cement pointing
and the top of the tower acquired battlements and
pinnacles. Several of the plain windows were re-glazed
with stained glass, and a new pulpit (7) and font (8)
were installed. The latter move so infuriated local
people that they secretly buried their beloved old font
somewhere in the churchyard, although no-one knows
where! The east window above the altar (which
used to be more or less rectangular ) was replaced with a
an arched window in a pseudo-perpendicular style , while
lavishly-carved oak screens appeared around the
Sandys chapel, behind the altar and in the
choir. William Bolton of Hawkshead repainted
some of the murals.
There is a panorama of the church interior here. Hold the left mouse button to move around. You can zoom in and out with the mouse wheel. Thank you to Kevin Baverstock for this.
In 1965 Rushworth and Dreaper of Liverpool built a new pipe organ. The console is in the choir (9) and the pipes (10), which are cradled in locally grown oak, make a fine architectural feature high above the back pews. Organ recitals were arranged to give people the opportunity to hear the new instrument and these developed into the Music for a Summer Evening concerts, which are held every Tuesday evening at 8.00 p.m. during July and August.
The rearrangement of the organ released space to establish a chapel (11) dedicated to St. James, patron saint of pilgrims. Look for the symbols (rucksack, boots and waterbottles, etc.) embroidered on the kneelers by church members. There are Viking designs on the kneeler at the communion rail as a reminder that Hawkshead (Haukr-saetr) had Norse beginnings.
you are in the chapel, have a look at the unusual old chest (12),
which was made in 1603 to store parish registers, probably from
one of the much older beams that were taken down when the roof
was raised in 1585. The stone ball used to be on the
roof above the large east window until it was replaced with a
cross in 1875. A medieval priests door (14) was
rediscovered in 1965 (it had been walled up in the Victorian
alterations) and was made into a plain glass window, giving extra
light inside and splendid views of
The memorials can be explored using the panorama. Hold the left mouse button to move around. You can zoom in and out with the mouse wheel. Thank you to Kevin Baverstock for this.
Until the 18th century people were buried inside the church and the bare earth covered with rushes, which were removed on July 25th, St. James Day, each year; only the aisles were paved. In 1793 the whole floor was paved with new flagstones, consequently ending the rush bearing ceremony and indoor burials. A few of the old flagstones were re-laid in the aisles, however, and six of them record 18th century burials.
wall memorial (15) is of special interest because of its
connection with the poet, William Wordsworth.
The Revd. Thomas Bowman, MA, Headmaster of
the free Grammar School came to Hawkshead in 1785
and taught Wordsworth during his last years at
large memorials on the back wall commemorate Daniel
Rawlinson (died 1679) and his son, Thomas, (died 1708) of
Grizedale. Although they both spent their
working lives in
Some other features of interest
The Belfry (16) has had a peal of bells since 1765, which, in 1958, were re-hung and two new ones added to make a full peal of eight bells. In 1985 an upper floor and staircase were built for the ringers; the choir use the ground floor as a vestry. Because the heavy bells could be a danger if interfered with, the belfry is kept locked. There is more information about the bells and belfry here.
The Burial of Wool affidavit (18) dates back to 1696. Almost 200 of these affidavits recording burials from 1680-1696 are preserved.
The North Porch (19) was built in 1933 by George Booth Usher, a descendant of Thomas Usher who, in 1793, had been responsible for building the vicars vestry (20).
The Clock: there must have been a clock in the tower since the 1600s because a carpenter named Cuthbertson Hodson made a new clock face for it in 1790 at a cost of 2s.6d (£121.02p!). The present clock dates from 1876 and, to mark the beginning of the 20th century, Colonel Myles Sandys gave the clock face on the south wall of the tower.
The War Memorial cross (24), put up after the 1919-18, was based on the design of the ancient cross (c1000 ad) at Gosforth, near Ravenglass on the west coast of Cumbria.