Great Ormside – St James’ Church
The narrow road through Great Ormside village leads to Ormside Hall, with its 14th Century pele tower, and to St James’s Church. Nearby is the Ormside Viaduct carrying the Settle to Carlisle Railway across the River Eden.
St James’ Church is one of the oldest in Cumbria, with parts dating from about 1140. A viking burial of a warrior with his sword (now in Tullie House Museum in Carlisle) was found in the churchyard in 1898. The Danes may have settled here and established a pagan burial ground. ‘The Ormside Bowl’ (now in York Museum) was found here, and is the subject of a small exhibition in the Hilton Chapel within the Church.
The doorway is 11th Century, and leads in beside the tower which was probably used for defence, as it has no outside door, and very small windows. It has a basement, and two internal floors, one containing three bells. There is a Norman font, a fine oak roof, and an oak pulpit. In the North wall of the Chancel is a 14th Century hagioscope, or Leper’s Squint, which enabled those afflicted by the disease to be kept separate from the healthy members of the congregation, but allowed them to see the alter.
There is a large sycamore tree growing out of the centre of a flight of steps, which is thought to replace a preaching cross.
Aerial photos by Simon Ledingham.
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