The “Old ” Church, Martindale, Cumbria
At the end of a long narrow road east of Ullswater in Cumbria is Martindale and the small church known as the “Old Church”. Old it is, first written mention is made in documents from 1220 so its existence must be prior to that date *. The Church was dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours from which we assume the Dale then got its name.
This stone church was much restored in 1882 after the roof of the original stone church of 16th century construction fell in. It is a simple structure a porch, bell cote and one main room for the congregation. Until 1724 the congregation stood on a earth floor, not ideal in wet and winter weather so it was ‘updated’ with stone flagstone’s.
A simple Alter table and a Stone Font is the only adornment. The Font is believed to be a Roman Alter Stone salvaged centuries ago from a Shrine on the Roman Road (know as High Street) that traversed the mountain above the valley. Hard benches for the congregation now line the walls….but these have been constructed from the wood of the old and presumably original Boxed Pews..
Despite its isolation there are still services at regular intervals during the months and the Occasional Wedding.
* Like many old churches there is of course a Yew Tree in the grounds. The one at Martindale is said to be well over 1300 years old which might indicate that a religious building was on this spot in 750 AD.
Remote, simple, yet very beautiful both in setting and being.
(C) David Oakes 2016