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Ireby Old Church, churchyard and two cross bases

A Scheduled Monument in Ireby and Uldale, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.7427 / 54°44'33"N

Longitude: -3.207 / 3°12'25"W

OS Eastings: 322390.781147

OS Northings: 539301.485558

OS Grid: NY223393

Mapcode National: GBR 6F1L.HN

Mapcode Global: WH6ZL.Q211

Entry Name: Ireby Old Church, churchyard and two cross bases

Scheduled Date: 20 July 1966

Last Amended: 18 March 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014703

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23797

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Ireby and Uldale

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Binsey Team

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of Ireby Old Church,
its churchyard, and two pre-Conquest cross bases located in the churchyard to
the south of the church. The upstanding remains of the church include the
sandstone built 12th century chancel and two aisle columns of the north arcade
situated between the now demolished nave and its north aisle.
The buried remains of the church include the nave, porch and north aisle.
The chancel measures approximately 11m by 6.4m externally and is entered
through a door in the west wall. In the east wall there is a line of three
round-headed Norman windows dated to c.1170 with a similar window in the gable
above. Below the northern of the three windows there is an aumbry, a cupboard
or recess used to keep sacred vessels in, and elsewhere in the east
wall, fragments of carved medieval stonework have been built into the fabric.
The south wall has two large windows with slightly pointed heads which have
now been filled in. Adjacent to the eastern of these windows is a piscina, or
stone basin in a niche where the Communion or Mass vessels were washed, and
next to the piscina there is a an 18th century memorial stone constructed in
the classical style. Beneath the east window there is the tomb of George
Grage; its side divided into three carved panels, the centre one of which is
dated 1626 and bears a shield with an heraldic device. The north wall has a
small aumbry, a perpendicular break in the masonry indicating where the
chancel ended when first built, and a blocked north doorway. The roof of the
chancel is 18th century in its present form but incorporates timbers from its
predecessor. 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 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.
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, and in the 13th century a north aisle was
added to the nave and the south porch built. In 1845-6 a new parish church
was built in Ireby village. The north aisle, nave and porch of the old church
were subsequently demolished. The chancel arch was filled in and provided
with doors and the remains of the old church were retained for use at burial
services. The chancel was repaired in 1880. In 1971 it was declared redundant
along with the churchyard, and in 1975 a programme of conservation and repair
was completed. In 1977 the aisle columns were re-erected. The chancel is a
Listed Building Grade I, and the aisle columns are Listed Grade II*.
Limited excavation during the 1930s confirmed the existence of below ground
archaeological features associated with the demolished parts of the church.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A parish church is a building, usually of roughly rectangular outline and
containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate to its use for
Christian worship by a secular community, whose members gather in it on
Sundays and on the occasion of religious festivals. Children are initiated
into the Christian religion at the church's font and the dead are buried in
its churchyard. Parish churches were designed for congregational worship and
are generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provides
accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which is the main domain of the
priest and contains the principal altar. Either or both parts are sometimes
provided with aisles, giving additional accommodation or spaces for additional
altars. Most parish churches also possess towers, generally at the west
end, but central towers at the crossing of nave and chancel are not uncommon
and some churches have a free-standing or irregularly sited tower. Many parish
churches also possess transepts at the crossing of chancel and nave, and south
or north porches are also common. The main periods of parish church foundation
were in the 10th to 11th and 19th centuries. Most medieval churches were
rebuilt and modified on a number of occasions and hence the visible fabric of
the church will be of several different dates, with in some cases little
fabric of the first church being still easily visible.
Parish churches are found throughout England. Their distribution reflects the
density of population at the time they were founded. In regions of dispersed
settlement parishes were often large and churches less numerous. The densest
clusters of parish churches were found in thriving medieval towns. A survey of
1625 reported the existence of nearly 9000 parish churches in England. New
churches built in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries increased numbers to
around 18,000 of which 17,000 remain in ecclesiastical use. Parish churches
have always been major features of the landscape and a major focus of life for
their parishioners. They provide important insights into medieval and later
population levels or economic cycles, religious activity, artistic endeavour
and technical achievement. A significant number of surviving examples are
identified to be nationally important.

Crosses were erected in a variety of locations in the eighth, ninth and
tenth centuries and are found throughout northern England. They were
frequently heavily decorated, have shafts supporting carved cross heads, and
may be set within stone bases called socles. Crosses served a variety of
functions; some being associated with established churches, others acting as
cenotaphs, boundary or route markers, and meeting places. They provide
important insights into the art traditions and changing art styles during the
early medieval period, into religious beliefs during the same era, and into
the impact of Scandinavian settlement of the north of England. In view of this
a large number are nationally important.
Ireby Old Church and churchyard is a good example of a medieval parish church
which eventually became redundant after the construction of a replacement
during the 18th century. 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.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ireby Old Church Cumbria, (1987)
Swift, Rev F B, Bulman, C G, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Ireby Church, (1965), 222-39
Swift, Rev F B, Bulman, C G, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Ireby Church, (1965), 222-39
DOE, List of Buildings of Historic & Architectural Interest,
DOE, List of Buildings of Historic & Architectural Interest,

Source: Historic England

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