History of our Church

Church Building

The church of St Michael and All Angels is the most prominent feature of Beetham village.   It originally lay at the centre of an extensive parish from Farleton in the east to Arnside in the west, and across the Kent to the north to Meathop.   The size of the parish was reduced with the development of other local churches in the 19th century and Beetham was transferred from Chester to Carlisle Diocese in 1837. Beetham church still attracts many visitors due to the historical significance and imposing architecture of the building and the churchyard
 
 
Beetham Church is a Grade 1 listed building.  The base of the church tower is of Saxon origin, when the church was thought to have been dedicated to St Lioba.  The dedication was changed to St Michael and All Angels after the conquest of 1066, and the Norman influence can be seen in the nave of the church which largely dates from the eleventh and twelfth centuries
 
East window ~ Christ the King with St Michael and the Angels
 
The chancel was extended in the thirteenth century, the Chapel added in the fourteenth century, and the north aisle added and south aisle widened in the fifteenth century. The top stage of the tower was added in the sixteenth century. One of the most significant sources of information on this early development of the Church was collected and transcribed by the Reverend William Hutton, Vicar of Beetham from 1762 to 1811, and published as the ‘Beetham Repository’
 
Significant restoration work in the 1870’s and 1880’s included:-
i)  addition of the main porch
ii) raising of the Vestry floor to allow for excavation of a boiler house underneath
iii) restoration of the twelve sets of stained glass windows, originally dating from early 15th century to 19th century
iv) box pews replaced with the solid Victorian pews that are in position today
v) carved pulpit commemorating the Reverend Joseph Thexton
vi) a new Forster and Andrews of Hull organ installed in 1876
vii) restoration of the seven-sided font dating back to 1636
viii) existing ring of 3 bells augmented by Mears and Stainbank to a full ring of 6 bells in 1890 to commemorate the Queen’s Jubilee of 1887
ix) carved oak chancel screen commissioned in memory of Isabella Thexton by Mr & Mrs Charles Frith-Hudson and erected in 1912
 
Pre-1872 box pews
 
 Present day view of interior, including chancel screen
 
The Lady Chapel was completely refurbished in 1999 by the Lay Rector, Brigadier C. Edward Tryon-Wilson of Dallam Tower, to mark the occasion of his 90th birthday. The Jacobean altar was restored and new carved oak railings and chairs made by Peter Hall & Son of Staveley. A tomb dating from c.1490 separates the chapel and choir, with two stone effigies believed to Sir Robert Middleton of Leighton Hall and his wife Anne, daughter of Roger Beetham. This tomb was severely damaged in 1647 by soldiers of Fairfax, headed by Richard Sill
 
Lady Chapel                            Middleton tomb
         
  
Further extensions were built on the north side of the Church with the addition of a kitchen and WC with disabled access in the north-west corner in 2005, and a new boiler house adjacent to the vestry for the gas heating system completed in 2001, to replace the earlier flood-prone basement boiler room
 
The building is constructed of mainly limestone rough rubble walls, with sandstone door and window dressings. The church is of rectangular plan with the tower at the western end:-
 
 
Churchyard
 
The churchyard immediately surrounding the church was formally closed in 1899.  There are 128 headstones dating up to 1897.  The grass is carefully cut throughout the season but an area has been set aside at the west end of the churchyard to grow wild flowers and encourage wildlife.  In addition, in 2014 nearly 5,000 snowdrops and spring bulbs were planted in selected areas of the churchyard
 
The main path from The Wheatsheaf to the south porch is covered with a rose pergola.  This was originally erected to commemorate the wedding of the Duke of York (later George V) and Princess Mary of Teck in 1892.  It continues to be maintained by a group of volunteers and was replanted in 2012 to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.  The climbing roses and clematis provide a welcoming approach to the church throughout the summer months
 
Rose pergola