Old Chancel, Ireby, Cumbria

Ireby, Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA7 1HD
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Open daily from 10am - 4pm. For further information please contact the Local Community Officer via email [email protected]
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An old provider

Ireby Old Church was built about 1150 on what is thought to have been the site of an earlier church. In its original form the old church consisted of a short chancel, probably with an apse, and a nave. About 1170 the chancel was extended to its present length.  The remaining twelfth-century chancel is only part of what was originally there; a medieval parish church which eventually became redundant after the construction of a replacement during the 18th century.

 Before being demolished it was in continuous use for about 700 years and the presence of two cross bases within the churchyard indicates the site was in ecclesiastical use for a considerable period before construction of the present church. Limited excavation during the 1930s located well preserved structural remains of the demolished parts of Ireby Old Church, and further evidence of the church and the medieval graveyard population will exist.

In 1847, the nave was pulled down. The font, piscina and some carvings were taken to provide for the new church (a mile away), and two nave arcade columns were taken to serve as gateposts in the village. The gateposts have now be reinstated in the churchyard.  Externally the chancel has two medieval carvings incorporated into the fabric of the west wall. Above these is a 19th century bell tower and modern bell. To the west of the chancel there is a grassy platform marking the site of the medieval nave, north aisle and porch, together with two upstanding octagonal sandstone aisle columns which were re-erected in their original positions in 1977.

The east wall arcade, with three round-headed lancets, is a fine feature, dated to c.1170.  A similar window sits in the gable above.  Below the northern of the three windows there is an aumbry, and elsewhere in the east wall, fragments of carved medieval stonework have been built into the fabric.

The churchyard was used from early medieval times up to the beginning of the 20th century. To the south of the church there are two pre- Conquest socles, or cross bases; the northern one measures 0.8m by 0.5m by 0.6m high, the southern one measures 1.1m by 0.6m by 0.25m high.

Your support and generosity is what helps us keep the doors to these special places open. We could not do it without you.If you would like to donate to the upkeep and maintenance of the Old Chancel please text IRE to 70970 to donate £5 or to 70191 to give £10 every donation really does make a difference to these beautiful churches.

Thank You