The Church of St. Mary and St. Michael, Urswick.
The Early Church
In 1123 Stephen de Blois (later King Stephen of England 1135-
Whichever of these two dates we take, both would indicate that Urswick was the mother church of the Furness area, due to the inscription from the Tunwinni Cross indicating the existence of a literate Christian community here. There is also the strong suggestion that Urswick was the early centre of Celtic Christianity in Furness, which may be further supported by a recent theory proposed by the British Geological Survey, that in the 8th century and before the sea came into Urswick Tarn.
The Dedication of the Church
The original charter, giving land to the monks who built Furness Abbey, refers to an already established Church of St. Mary in Urswick. Later reference was made to St. Mary in the Fields. Now the Church is known as St. Mary and St. Michael’s, though no one seems to know just when the name of St. Michael was added. However, in his honour Rushbearing takes place each year on the Sunday nearest to St. Michael’s Day (29th September).
Points of Interest
Relative to Low Furness and its importance as a cradle of Celtic Christianity there
is evidence of Roman habitation at Urswick, including a military fort and settlement,
together with evidence of early Christianity. The shape of the Celtic monastery at
Great Urswick is based on that of the Irish template similar in layout to Iona and
Lindisfarne and can be clearly seen in the landscape. The question is: When was it
established and by whom? Again, there are writings which suggest that St. Ninian
consecrated and sent bishops into northern Britain and that the seaward location
of Furness suggests a simpler route between these places and of course with Ireland.
This is a possibility. We know that St.Patrick came from northern Britain, probably
on the Solway, adopted the Roman model and when sent to Ireland by the pope attempted
to establish a Roman diocesan structure there. Could it be that Irish monasticism
Celtic connections to Urswick Church can be investigated by clicking on the link
Walking in the footsteps of the ancients and other walks can be found below click
on the link -