Beetham – St Michael and All Angels Church
St Michael and All Angels church was probably built in the 12th century, with the South aisle added some time soon after. The Chancel was extended to East in the 13th Century. A chapel was then added in the 14th century. The North aisle was built, and the South aisle widened during the 15th century, and the top stage of the church Tower added during the 16th century.
The church was restored, and the South porch added between 1873 and 1874. Many of the windows in the newer part of the church, are original sandstone arches, removed when the church was extended and rebuilt, and placed in the newer sections. There are two windows with original medieval heraldic stained glass in them – the only original surviving windows in the church, the rest having been smashed by Cromwellian troops.
The church originally served the parish of Arnside, and every Sunday the parishioners would be expected to walk across the marshes, navigating the narrow “Fairy Steps”, steep steps cut into the limestone cliffs, until they came to Beetham. These steps also had to be navigated when funerals were being conducted, the coffins being hoisted over the limestone cliffs using metal rings embedded in the rock. In 1866, the church at Arnside was consecrated, and the walk between Arnside and Beetham was no longer taken by the parishioners of Arnside.
Words and photos by Matthew Emmott.
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