Tuesday, 8 April 2014
I made my first ever visit to the village of Cartmel, in Cumbria. It's an attractive little place, dominated by the huge medieval Priory Church. Established as a monastery in the 12th century, it survived destruction after Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries in the 1500s only because an altar within the church had been given to villagers. They petitioned to save the church as their sole place of worship. Even so, it almost fell into ruin and was saved and repaired many times by various benefactors. Nowadays it is a living, thriving church with a wonderfully peaceful atmosphere inside, soaked through by centuries of faithful prayer. When I visited, the nave was cordoned off and the roof swathed in plastic sheeting as they are replacing rotten roof timbers. It rather ruined its good looks but I still enjoyed wandering round and discovering its secrets. 'Ancient jewel, living church', as its guidebook says.