Bassenthwaite – St Bega’s Church
Location Bassenthwaite / Keswick
Grid Ref NY 226287
The present building dates from pre-Norman times, and stands by a busy stream in the grounds of Mirehouse by Bassenthwaite Lake.
The font is dated about 1300 and has an octagonal lead-lined bowl. The 14th century lead crucifix hanging over the pulpit is similar to one in St. Albans Cathedral. There is a wrought iron hourglass used to time sermons. Historical families of the area including the Speddings of Mirehouse are remembered in various tablets and windows.
This crucufix which hangs over the pulpit is a replica of a lead crucufix which was discovered in 1874, hidden in the church. The original, now kept safely in the Treasury at Carlisle Cathedral, may date from the 14th century.
Lord Alfred Tennyson stayed at Mirehouse in 1835 while he was writing his poem ‘Morte D’Arthur’ and St Bega’s Church inspired the opening lines:
‘…to a chapel nigh the field,
A broken chancel with a broken cross,
That stood on a dark straight of barren land,’.
A small distance along the shore you will find a simple open-air theatre erected by the Tennyson Society at the place where it is thought he composed much of the poem.
A booklet describing the history of the church can be obtained from the Dodd Wood Old Sawmill Tearoom.
Aerial photos by Simon Ledingham. Other photos by Simon Ledingham and Julian Thurgood.
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