St Michael

An important parish church, 14th century with many later changes clearly visible inside and out, in a fine setting between the River Eden and the North Pennines.

About this church

Built in sandstone with tiled roof and a large three story tower, the changes that have been made over the years show clearly on its walls. Inside is some fine Jacobean furniture, the organ originally from Rose Castle and the Great Tom bell from Shap Abbey.

St Michael’s enjoys a fine position on a rise at the edge of the village of Kirkby Thore, in a large walled churchyard ringed by large sycamore trees and with uninterrupted views of the hills in the distance. As parish church it has been at the centre of village life for many years, extending from the River Eden in the south and west to Alston and the river Tees in the north and east, admittedly containing more sheep than people most of the time.

The foundations of the present church date from c1150 when land was given for a church by the Whelp family, Lords of the Manor. But seeing the village is built round an important Roman cavalry fort, Bravoniacum and is close to the Roman Maiden Way, there was most likely an earlier Saxon church on or near the present site.

The church intriguingly displays its history prominently on its walls: windows filled in or their style updated, roof levels raised, doors moved, tower floors added, most recently buttresses built to counteract the slippage of the south wall undermined by two recently discovered large medieval grave pits.

The window glass, ranging from medieval pieces to a fine Victorian east window, has been beautifully restored in the first part of our current restoration project.

Come inside where the original simple Norman layout of nave, extended choir, north aisle and arcade is complicated by false plaster choir arch and hammer type ceiling supports, added in the 19th century when raising the ceiling for the new east window. The real treasures are the pulpit, font, altar table and rails (inscribed as ‘Given in the 35th year of the reign of Charles II’ by the Rector Thomas Machell, a respected antiquarian, ardent royalist and Chaplain to the King).

We are seeking to give a warm welcome to all who visit St Michael’s as well as all who use it day by day.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Fascinating churchyard

Visitors information

  • Level access throughout
  • On street parking at church
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

Regular events

  • Matins, Holy Communion 2nd, 4th Sundays, Messy Church 1st Sunday, Family Church 3rd Sunday,
  • Village Tea in Memorial Hall 4th Wednesday.

Other nearby churches


St Margaret & St James

Pre Norman building of Dufton red sandstone with a fine carved hammer beam chancel ceiling, 11th century tower, unusual tympana, a dual sedilla and a piscina.


St Cuthbert

This attractive church surrounded by hay meadows and views of the Pennines, is a peaceful haven on a popular footpath and close to the Pennine Way and cycle routes.


St Lawrence

Morland church has the only Anglo Saxon tower in Cumbria which is a remarkable survival and outstanding example of its type, it is probably the oldest building in Cumbria still being used for its original purpose.

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