Bridekirk – St Bridget’s Church
There has been a Church in the village of Bridekirk, near Cockermouth since ancient times. A wooden Church was replaced with a stone one in 1130, with Norman architecture. In 1868 a replacement church was commissioned, because the old one was in poor state. This was built by Corey and Ferguson next to the old church, the chancel of which still remains. Only the tympanum and archway of the South door, the door in the South transept and the former Chancel arch (now over the organ), were incorporated into the new Church.
The architecture is neo-Norman, cruciform with apse and crossed tower. Above the SW Norman doorway is the tympanum with a carved head of Christ (11th or 13th Century). It is somewhat corroded but still regarded as a ‘most interesting piece of sculpture in any Cumberland Church’.
An unusual featue is the font, possibly from the earlier Church. It is 12th Century, and is described as ‘perhaps the most finished and perfect remains of Northern sculpture in the Kingdom’. It was carved by Richard of Durham and shows how old Nordic influences continued after the Norman conquest. One side depicts Richard at work with his hammer and chisel carving a flower and leaf. It has an inscription which reads ‘Richard he me wrought, and to this beauty me brought’. The decoration is runic. It also depicts the baptism of Christ, Adam and Eve, as well as strange beasts.
There are several stained glass windows by Powell’s of Whitefriars by various artists. The Chancel south east window of Fides is by Henry Holiday. The window above in the South Transept is of St Bride.
Outside there are various ancient tombstones and coffin lids.
Aerial photo by Simon Ledingham.
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