HEYSHAM, ST. PETER'S CHURCH &

ST. PATRICK'S CHAPEL, LANCASHIRE

Grid Ref: SD 410 616
Date: 16 Feb 2011 & 26 July 2012

 

 

St. Peter's
St. Peter's, Heysham

 

I have visited St. Peter's twice, once of a sunny day in February 2011, when the exterior shots were taken and once on a much duller day in the wet summer of 2012. On the latter occasion I was with a group led by David Brazendale studying a variety of Lancashire Churches; we were based at Alston Hall College near Longridge. We were met at the church by a guide.

 

Chancel arch spacer Chancel
Chancel arch and pulpit from the nave   The chancel
chapel   window
South Chapel with hogback stone in foreground   Chapel window with flash
Viking stone   floor tiles
Detail of Viking stone   Floor tiles
St. Patrick's   Saxon shaft
St. Patrick's Chapel   Saxon shaft
chapel   door
Rock cut tombs   Detail of door arch

Arthur Mee waxes lyrical about Heysham with its barrows, and carved stones from the Saxon, Viking, Norman and Medieval periods. When he visited in the 1930s, there was a girl in a sentry box at the entrance to the churchyard to collect a penny from visitors to enter. He describes the churchyard as an open air museum with the shaft of a cross made two hundred years before the Norman Conquest, a Saxon doorway, and a hogback tombstone. The latter is now inside the church for safekeeping. One side of the shaft of the 9th century Saxon cross shows a seated Madonna and on the other side, shown in my photograph, is a carving of a gabled building with three people looking out of the windows at a swathed figure standing in the doorway.

The hogback Viking stone appears to have figures like bears at each end and is covered by figures of animals and men. The church has Saxon origins but was rebuilt by the Normans. Arthur Mee claims that although the chancel arch looks Norman it may have been made in the 17th century.

St. Patrick's chapel, with its prominent position overlooking the sea dates from the end of the 8th century. It is the only surviving example in England of a single cell Saxon chapel. The East Gable is on projecting stones, a feature of Irish building of the period. Christians from Ireland came to the North West as well as to the Western Isles and then influenced Chritianity across Northumbria. The rock cut tombs are very unusual and would have had stone covers. The legend is that St. Patrick came to Heysham.

Sources

The King's England, Lancashire, by Arthur Mee, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1936, 5th impression, 1960.

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