Carlisle's Churches and Chapels

  > The parish church of St. Mary is within what remains of the nave of the cathedral. The fragment that escaped the ruthless spoilerscath.jpg (37282 bytes) during the civil wars has been paved and galleried, and the space formerly occupied by the remainder of the edifice is converted into a cemetery. The benefice is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the dean and chapter, to whom the great tithes are appropriated. The Rev. William Rees, A.M. is the incumbent, and Mr. Peter Caldwell is the clerk.

St. Cuthbert's Parish Church is situated at the head of the lane to which it gives name. cuthbert.jpg (46764 bytes)The original church was erected at a very early period, and dedicated in honour of St. Cuthbert, who was consecrated bishop of Lindisfarn, in 685. It was destroyed by the Danes, in the ninth century, but rebuilt soon after the Norman conquest. In the year 1778, it was rebuilt on the site of the old structure, but in a very unecclesiastical style. It is, however, a commodious building, and is furnished with an excellent organ, and has a low square tower, but only one bell. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the dean and chapter, and in the incumbency of the Rev. John Fawcett, M.A., who, some years ago, published three volumes of excellent sermons, and in 1846, a pious work, entitled "Christian Life." When St. Cuthbert's steeple was rebuilt, in the reign of Elizabeth, nearly a bushel full of small silver (or, according to Denton's MS., brass) coins, called St. Cuthbert's pence,* were found amongst the ruins. The Rev. Thomas Wilkinson, vicar of Stanwix, is evening lecturer; Mr. Wm. Tate, is clerk and sexton; and Mr. Harris, organist.

Trinity Church, in Caldew-gate, is a chapel of ease to St. Mary's, and built of blue free-stone, in the perpendicular style of ecclesiastical architecture, and has a spire and clock. A beautiful stained window, by Williment, considered one of the finest in the county, and an excellent organ, were lately presented to this church by Mrs. Thwaytes, aunt to the Rev. James Thwaytes, M.A., the present incumbent. The presentation is in the dean and chapter of Carlisle.

Christ's Church, in Botchergate, it a chapel of ease to St. Cuthbert's and is erected in the early English style. It is neatly pewed and galleried round, and contains a spire and clock. The benefice is in the gift of the perpetual curate of St. Cuthbert's, and the Rev. Benjamin Ward, M. A., is the incumbent.

These two churches are exactly the same size, and the first stone of each was laid on the 26th of September, 1828. Each measures 80 feet in length, by 60 in breadth, with spires 132 feet in height, and were completed in September, 1830, at the cost of £13,212 of which St. Mary's parish subscribed £1,890, and St. Cuthbert's parish, £2140, the reminder being contributed by the commissioners for building churches. They contain spacious galleries, and have accommodation for upwards of 4000 hearers, viz., 2000 each, including a number of free seats. Both these beautiful edifices were designed by Messrs. Rickman and Hutchinson, architects, Birmingham. Trinity church was built by Messrs. Nixon and Denton, of Carlisle; and Christ's church was erected by Messrs. Bennett and Robinson, of Preston. The stone for these buildings was obtained from a quarry, three miles south of Carlisle. They have supplied a great spiritual want, which had long been felt in the populous neighbourhoods where they are situated.

CHAPELS - the places of worship unconnected with the established church of England, are numerous in Carlisle, and some of them are large and handsome edifices.

The Catholic Chapel, (dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph,) is situated in Chapel-street, in an enclosures, which also contains a house for the priests, with a large garden and burial ground. It is a neat brick building, erected in 1824, at the cost of £2300 (including the chapel house) nearly one half of which was contributed by the Rev. Jos. Marshall. The altar piece is a beautiful painting of Christ rising from the tomb, executed by Mr. Nutter, in 1828, for £50; and on either side of it are two smaller paintings, representing the crucifixion, and adoration of the shepherds at the crib at Bethlehem. The windows are decorated with stained and painted glass, and the altar has a very impressive appearance. The chapel has accommodation for nearly 800 persons, and the number of catholics in the city is now about 2600. The first catholic chapel established in Carlisle, after the Reformation, was in 1799, by Mr. Fairburn, soon after which it was placed under the pastoral care of the Rev. Joseph Marshall, who, in consequence of old age, has lately retired from the more arduous duties of his sacred profession, and two young, zealous, and talented clergymen have been appointed to this mission. The Rev. Mr. Marshall has been held in the highest estimation by the citizens of Carlisle, and on his retiring from the public duties of his ministry, a splendid demonstration of this feeling was manifested at a public dinner which was given on the occasion. The Revds. Luke Curry and Robert Cornthwaite are his successors.

The Old Scotch Presbyterian Chapel, in Fisher-street, was built in 1731, when the congregation removed from their former chapel, near the west wall. It stands in a small cemetery, will seat 600 persons, and is endowed with £40 a year, arising from the interest of several bequests; besides which, a Mr. Johnston left a good legacy for the support of a Sunday school. The Rev. Richard Hunter is the incumbent, and resides near the chapel.

The Independent, or Congregational Chapel, in Lowther-street, was opened in 1843, and is one of the most elegant modern erections in the city. It is built of white free-stone, from a design by Mr. Nichol, of Edinburgh, and the cost of the edifice amounted to nearly £4000. It is well fitted up, and will seat about 1100 hearers. There are also spacious school and class rooms underneath; but no minister at present. This body had a chapel in Annetwell-street, which was formerly in the possession of lady Glenorchy, who, during her life contributed £20 annually, towards the minister's salary. The Rev. C. Hill was the first congregational minister who occupied it, and during his time a church was formed on congregational principles. He died in 1814, and was succeeded by the Rev. J. Whitridge, from Rotheram College, who was succeeded by the Rev. T. Woodrow.

The Friends' Meeting House, at the head of Fisher-street, stands in a small burial ground, and was erected in 1776; but the Society of Friends have had a congregation here since the death of their founder, George Fox, who was imprisoned in the dungeon of the castle, and suffered great hardships here, in 1653. It is at present attended by a respectable congregation.

The Scotch Church is a plain stone building in Chapel-street, erected in 1834. It will seat about 750 hearers. The Rev. David R. Louson, M.A. is the minister.

The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, in Fisher-street, is a plain, but commodious brick edifice, which was built at the cost of £2000 in 1817, when the congregation removed from their own chapel, which was built in 1786. It is neatly pewed, will seat 1000 persons, and has a large room for Sunday scholars underneath. The Revds. Edward Sumner and Edward Baylis, are the ministers, and they are also the stipendiaries of the district.

The Wesleyan Association Chapel, or Tabernacle, is situated in Lowther-street, and was built in 1836. It is a neat building, and will seat about 850 hearers, with Sunday schools beneath, and at the back of it. The Rev. Joseph Thompson is the minister. This body seceded from the old Wesleyan Methodists, about twelve years since.

The Primitive Methodist Chapel is a small building in Willow Holme. And the Baptists rent the lecture room of the Athenæum as their place of worship. In addition to the foregoing, there are also two sects called Mormonites and Danielites.

Besides the Sunday schools connected with the churches and chapels, here are several other institutions for the promulgation of Christian knowledge. The Carlisle Church Missionary Association was formed in 1817, in aid of the "Church Missionary Society of Africa and the East," to which, in 1846, it contributed nearly £400. John Dixon, Esq. is the treasurer. A branch of the "London Missionary Association" has been formed in Carlisle, about twenty years. The Cumberland and Carlisle Auxiliary Bible Society was instituted in 1813, and consists of ten branch societies, at Carlisle, Cockermouth, Maryport, Wigton, Penrith, Dearham, Hayton, Cumwhitton, Stapleton, and Keswick, which conjointly remitted in 1846, to the British and Foreign Bible Society, £554 16s. 2d., of which sum £294 16s. 8d. was expended in the purchase of bibles and testaments. Since the commencement of this society, in 1813, it has circulated in Cumberland no fewer than 45,872 bibles and testaments. Each annual subscriber of one guinea has the privilege of purchasing bibles and testaments at reduced prices, for the purpose of distribution. Mr. George Dixon is the treasurer. and the Rev. John Fawcett and Mr. William Nanson are the secretaries.

The Wesleyan Auxiliary Missionary Society has an association here, whose subscriptions in 1846, amounted to about £90. Mr. Edward James is the treasurer, and Mr. Isaac James; the secretary. The Wesleyan Lending Tract Society was established in 1828, and Mr. Isaac James is its treasurer.

The Carlisle Tract Society was formed in 1813, to promote the general circulation and sale of approved religious tracts, and the state of the funds in 1846 was very satisfactory, the receipt being £21 10s. 10d. and the payments £17 6s. 4d., leaving a balance of £4 4s. 6d. Treasurer, Rev. B, Ward; secretary, Mrs. T. H. Hodgson; and depository, Messrs. Scott and Benson. Carlisle Monthly Tract Association was established in 1846, for the purpose of supplying "gratis, to each family in Carlisle, a tract, once a month." The tracts are procured monthly from the Religious Tract Society. Mr. W. Parker, treasurer, and Mr. J. F. Whitridge, secretary. The Independents have a branch of the London Missionary Society here, and the average contributions are about £50 per annum. And here is also a branch of the London Scripture Reading Society.

* St. Cuthbert, and several of his successors, bishops of Durham, had the privilege to coin; and it is said that, at the first foundation of the church, every citizen offered a piece of the current coin to be buried on the spot.


Mannix & Whellan, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Cumberland, 1847




Of the churches, both Trinity and Christ's Church have been demolished as the population of these areas moved outward to the newer suburbs. Churches were built to serve these new population centres, and Carlisle now has the following churches :- Sts. Aidan, Barnabus, Cuthbert, Elizabeth, Herbert, James, John, John (Upperby), Luke, Mary, Michael (Stanwix), Paul and Stephen. Besides these, there are a number of places of worship for the Methodists, Mormons, Society of Friends, etc.

Photos © Steve Bulman.

19 June 2015

© Steve Bulman