Penrith: St Andrew

Penrith: St Andrew
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Church code:

Statutory Designation Information

Listed Building?
This is a Grade I Listed Building
View more information about this Listed Building on the National Heritage List for England web site
Scheduled Monument?
There is a Scheduled Monument within the curtilage or precinct
View more information about this Scheduled Monument on the National Heritage List for England web site

National Park

The church is not in a National Park

Conservation Area

The church is in the following Conservation Area: Penrith

Heritage At Risk Status

On Heritage At Risk Register?
This church is on the Heritage at Risk Register (data verified 09 Nov 2023)
View more information about this church on the Heritage at Risk website

Approximate Date

Approximate Date:

Exterior Image

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Summary Description

The parish church of St Andrew is the most important building in the centre of the town of Penrith. A Medieval was demolished, except for the tower, in 1720 and replaced by a new building in a post-Wren style, described as Pevsner as "the stateliest church of its time in the county". The medieval west tower has walls eight feet thick and only small window openings. The west of the tower is pierced by a classical doorway with Tuscan columns and pediment. The tower contains a ring of eight bells, and also the Penrith-built clock of 1712, restored and placed in the lower part of the tower in the 1990's. Near the tower's east door are three medieval gravestones. The main body of the church, in red sandstone, comprises eight bays, with two tiers of round-arched windows, with a similar chancel of two bays ending in an arched shallow apse. Much of the church's interior effect derives from the extensive wooden galleries on three sides. These are supported by Tuscan columns, with long thin quasi-Tuscan painted columns supporting the flat wooden ceiling. The pulpit is that of 1722. The main changes subsequent to the 1720-2 rebuilding have been: replacement of the 1722 font (twice); creation of a clergy vestry on the south side of the chancel with the construction of an organ over; re-pewing in 1863/4; building a new choir vestry to the south of the clergy vestry; heightening of the floor of the chancel with provision of choir stalls; the removal of most of the nineteenth century windows in 1951; the removal of several rows of pews in 2009, so making a large open space at the west end of the church. A small servery was created, using the dismantled pews. The medieval font, probably dating from the late 14th century, was brought back into use on a new base (in place of the 1864 font, which now stands under the tower). Notable interior features include: the Baroque brass chandeliers from money given following the 1745 rebellion; the early-Victorian murals by Jacob Thompson in the apse; the fragments of 15th Century glass in a north aisle window; two windows containing three 15th century heads of Nevilles, Penrith's then Lords; and the Millennium window given in 2000. There are also various earlier items stored in the tower, including in particular a 13th Century coffin lid, two 17th Century effigies, the font of 1722, the plague stone of 1598 and the parish chest. In the churchyard there are important pre-Conquest tall crosses and hogback tombs. The so-called "Giant's Grave" comprises two 10th Century crosses, some eleven feet high. The carvings are much faded, but carry particularly interlace of various designs. Between the two crosses stand four sides of hogback coffins, with interlace of various kinds. Separate is the "Giant's Thumb", a similar though shorter cross, some fifty years earlier, but with a wheel head and again interlace and a cross scroll. Nearby are the graves of William Wordsworth's mother and her parents and of his wife's family. The churchyard itself is bounded by a low wall, outside which are a paved footpath and various secular buildings, including the 1563 merchant's house where Wordsworth gained his first education and St Andrew's Parish Rooms of 1894.

Visiting and Facilities

The church is open for worship.
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Church Website

Church Website:

Sources and Further Information

Church of England (2021) A Church Near You [Digital Archive/Index]
View information on worship and access at this church
Church Buildings Council (2019) Church Bells 8 Bells [Archive/Index]
8 Bells