Rydal – St Mary’s Church
The chapel of St Mary was built by Lady le Fleming, of Rydal Hall in 1824. William Wordsworth helped to choose the site, which was originally an orchard. The gallery in the church was reserved for the private use of the le Fleming family.
William Wordsworth and his family, who lived at nearby Rydal Mount, and the Arnold Family from Fox How, worshipped here. Their family pews are on each side of the aisle at the front of the church. Wordsworth was church warden from 1833-1834, and there is a memorial plaque to him.
Inside there are many memorials and plaques to people with local connections. The four stained glass windows are memorials, and are worth studying. One of the South windows is by Henry Holiday (1891), and commemorates the two Quillinan step-daughters of Dora Wordsworth..
St Mary’s is built on rocky ground, beneath Nab Scar, so there are no burials at Rydal.
The Rash field next to the churchyard was bought by Wordsworth originally to build a house. The house never materialised. After his daughter Dora died in 1847, William went down to the field between Rydal Mount and the main road, and together with his wife, sister and gardener, planted hundreds of daffodils as a memorial to Dora. Dora’s Field now belongs to the National Trust.
In April there is a Wordsworth Memorial Lecture in the Church, the texts of which are available in the Church as booklets. (They are also available at the Armitt in Ambleside). The poet’s birthday (April 7th) is also commemorated.
A booklet and leaflet describing the Church, its history and its literary connections are available.
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