Brougham – St Ninian’s Church
Known locally as Ninekirks, St Ninian’s stands about 3/4 mile down a track, in fields above a bend in the River Eamont and with views of the Pennines and the Lake District. It is worth finding both for its lovely setting and its fascinating history. This is one of the oldest Christian sites in Cumbria.
From the outside, the church is an unpretentious, long low sandstone building, with a bell-cote. The original Norman church on this site was completely rebuilt in the 17th century by Lady Anne Clifford, who had inherited Brougham Castle as part of her family’s vast estates. Her restoration work is recorded in the plasterwork above the altar, in a wreath with her initials AP (Anne Pembroke – the Earl of Pembroke was her second husband) and the date 1660.
The church remains almost unaltered since then, and its simplicity, combined with excellent workmanship, make it both enchanting and memorable. The interior is whitewashed, with clear glass in the windows and a stone-flagged floor. All the fittings are of oak and are very finely crafted. They include box pews, and family pews with canopies, an elegant screen, and a three-decker pulpit. The canopied pews would have been used by people from the castle, and the nearby Hornby Hall.
In the grounds is a medieval cross socket, to which has been added a modern shaft and head.
The church is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.
There is a small parking area just off the A66, at the start of the footpath.
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