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

St Michael’s is a fine example of a medieval country parish church. The parish extended from the River Eden across the North Pennines to the River Tees, admittedly with more sheep than people but nonetheless, in its heyday, one of the richest livings in the diocese, alas no longer!

The church enjoys a fine position at the northern edge of the village of Kirkby Thore within a large walled churchyard ringed by sycamore trees and with uninterrupted views of the hills in the distance. The current sandstone building dates from c1150 when land was given for a church by the Whelp family, Lords of the Manor. Largely destroyed in Scottish raids at the end of the 14th century, St Michael’s was rebuilt and extended.

Many changes over time are clearly visible after re-pointing with lime mortar; including the raising of the tower to accommodate the large Big Tom bell brought from Shap Abbey at the dissolution by the Abbot who was also Rector of St Michael’s.

Inside, the Victorians raised the east window and replaced the crossing beam into the choir with a false plaster arch and purely decorative hammer type roof supports. The fine Jacobean furniture, including pulpit, altar table and font were given to the church by the then Rector Thomas Machell, a distinguished antiquarian and local historian, an ardent royalist and Chaplain to Charles II.

Kirkby Thore is now a large village, growing in the second half of the 20th century beyond the Main Street and Cross Street of the medieval village, sited beside the much older Roman cavalry fort of Bravoniacum at the road division to Carlisle and Houseteads on Hadrians Wall. Nothing of the fort remains above ground but for today’s visitor there is a well stocked shop and a Café/Bistro serving excellent meals.

Key Features

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

Visitors information

  • Level access throughout
  • On street parking at church
  • Café within 500m
  • 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

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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.

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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.

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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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