St John

The church is situated centrally in Keswick and stands out by virtue of its tall spire.

About this church

The site for this church commands superb views of the surrounding Lakeland hills. It was chosen by the founder, John Marshall, Lord of the Manor of Castlerigg and a son of a Leeds linen manufacturer. He was a friend of William Wordsworth who influenced his choice of the position, ensuring that the graceful spire might be seen from miles around. It would become a constant witness to Almighty God in an area of great natural beauty.

The east and southeast stained glass windows were designed by the pre Raphaelite painter and stained glass artist Henry Holliday. Those on the south wall were designed by Victoria Whall, a key figure in the modern history of stained glass.

The banner hanging in the north side of the church was made by the famous sculptress and artist Josefina de Vasconcellas.

The architect was Anthony Salvin (1799-1881). The material he selected for the outer walls was soft pink sandstone from quarries in the Eden valley but the main structure was of local stone. In 1836 when the building was in its early stages John Marshall died leaving a wife and young son Reginald Dykes Marshall. Mary decided that the plans for the church should be carried forward as a fitting memorial to her husband and she met the whole cost of the building herself, which was £4000.

The building, completed in 1838, is in the Old English style. It originally comprised the west tower and spire and what are now the central nave and the vestry. The east end of the church was just beyond the first window on the south side of the present chancel opposite where the organ is now situated on the north side. The east window and the side windows were plain glass with a coloured border and the furnishings consisted of a stone pulpit and font with a communion table and reading desk.

In 1862 the building was enlarged and developed into the building similar to the one we see today.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • Wildlife haven
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Level access throughout
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets in church
  • Café within 500m
  • Dog friendly
  • Space to secure your bike

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