Author Archives: Admin

Gathering again for worship

Updated 31.12.20

Under Government guidelines, we are asked to bear the following in mind:

  • Communal worship is permitted provided that any person attending is alone or part of a group all from the same household, or from two linked households
  • People must not join any other group or mingle with any person from another group. (Non-household groups of 6 are not permitted. Christmas ‘bubbles’ not permitted.)
  • Those with underlying health conditions are asked to exercise discretion.
  • We are asked to maintain ‘social distancing’ of two metres.
  • Face coverings are required to be worn, unless you are medically advised not to.
  • Hand Sanitizer and Toilet facilities will be available.
  • Singing is not permitted – though we hope to have musical accompaniment.
  • Communion should will be administered under the form of bread alone, the Common Cup can not be shared.
  • In order to minimise risk, there shall be no sharing of the peace through physical contact.
  • Our generous Offerings may be left by the Church Door.
  • We may be asked to give contact details should ‘tracing’ be required. All data will be protected in accordance with our Privacy Policy.


COVID-19 Privacy Notice

List of Clergy, Staff and Visitors to Church buildings

This notice explains how information about you will be used temporarily by St. Oswald’s Church, Grasmere during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis so we can put in place a list of clergy, staff and visitors to the church buildings, as requested by the Government in support of NHS Test and Trace.

1. Who we are

The Parish Church of St. Oswald, Grasmere, Cumbria is the data controller. This means we decide how your personal data is used and why. Contact details in section 7 below.

2. The information we collect about you and why we need it

Although we may have your contact details already for our usual work, the Covid-19 pandemic has created a unique situation and additional reasons for us to collect the name and telephone numbers of clergy, staff and visitors who visit/use our church buildings, in order to support NHS Test and Trace. This is specifically in relation to contact tracing, which is the process of identifying, assessing, and managing people who have been exposed to a disease to prevent onward transmission, and to enable the investigation of local outbreaks.

For more information about Test and Trace, and how the NHS will use your personal details, please see the Government guidance website:

In summary, Test and Trace:

  • provides testing for anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus to find out if they have the virus
  • gets in touch with anyone who has had a positive test result to help them share information about any close recent contacts they have had, and
  • alerts those contacts, where necessary, and notifies them they need to self-isolate to help stop the spread of the virus.

This is voluntary, and you don’t have to provide your details, however, if you do, they will only be used for the purpose of sharing them with NHS Test and Trace.

3. Lawful basis

We will use your information lawfully, as explained below:

  • Consent – We need your consent in order to collect your name and telephone number and share this with NHS Test and Trace if requested. You will give us your consent by providing your details in the List/Form.
  • Explicit consent – We need your explicit written consent to collect your data on the basis that you may have revealed a religious belief by using our church building/s. You will give us your explicit consent by completing the List/Form.

You can withdraw your consent at any time after giving your details by letting us know you no longer want us to keep or share your personal data for this purpose, however, once we have given your details to Test and Trace we will no longer be able to prevent processing. To contact us, please see our contact details at 7. below.

4. Sharing your data

Your personal data will be treated as strictly confidential and will only be shared with NHS Test and Trace if requested.

Personal data that is collected will be used only to share with NHS Test and Trace. It will only be used for the purpose specified in this Privacy Notice.

5. Data Retention

We will keep your name and telephone number for a maximum of 21 days and will dispose of it after this period.

6. Your Legal Rights

Unless subject to an exemption under the GDPR or DPA 2018, you have the following rights with respect to your personal data:

  • The right to be informed about any data we hold about you;
  • The right to request a copy of your personal data which we hold about you;
  • The right to withdraw your consent at any time, while the church still has your data;
  • The right to request that we correct any personal data if it is found to be inaccurate or out of date;
  • The right to request your personal data is erased where it is no longer necessary for us to retain such data;
  • The right, where there is a dispute in relation to the accuracy or processing of your personal data, to request a restriction is placed on further processing;

7. Complaints and queries

If you have any questions about this privacy notice, including any requests to exercise your legal rights, please contact us using the details set out below.

The Revd. David Wilmot
Priest in Charge of Grasmere & Rydal
Chaplain at Rydal Hall
St. Mary’s Vicarage
Ambleside Road. Windermere LA23 1BA
07305 777113

If you do not feel that your complaint has been dealt with appropriately, please contact the Diocese of Carlisle 01768 807777

You also have the right to complain to the Information Commissioners Office on 0303 123 1113 or online: or

Grasmere Parish Magazine

Grasmere Parish Magazine is produced every two months and is distributed free to every house in Grasmere. It is published by St. Oswald’s PCC and copy comes from our valued band of regular and occasional contributors, compiled by the editors. A small number of extra copies are on sale in the Church and some shops in Grasmere.

The magazine carries small advertisements in the back pages for local trades and services.

The website has all recent editions and a growing archive of historic magazines dating back to 1895.

Please contact the editors with any queries about magazine content, advertising or distribution.

The Churchyard

It is likely there was an ancient burial ground predating the building of the Church, but all traces of this would have been covered over by subsequent burials.

Until the 1850s Grasmere Parish covered the whole of the Rothay & Brathay valleys down to what is now the Low Wood Hotel. Grasmere Churchyard had three entrances for the people from Grasmere, Ambleside and Langdale. The churchyard was closed for new burials in 1904, but only about 10% of the burials are marked; there are graves both under the floor of the Church, churchyard grass and paths.

The most famous grave is of William Wordsworth which is marked by green signs and metal railings on the east side, with the simple inscription ‘ William Wordsworth 1850, Mary Wordsworth 1859’ The neighbouring graves are to his sister, brother and children, including his daughter Dora Quillinan. There is also the grave of William Green the artist here, whose epitaph was composed by Wordsworth.

On the north side near the path to the Lych Gate are the graves of the Green family. Their tragic story is told in “The Greens of Grasmere“. The grave of George and Sarah has no stone but they are recorded on the headstone of Agnes their daughter. Nearby is the stone of Sarah Nelson who created the gingerbread shop after the school moved to Stock Lane.

Eight of the present yew trees were planted by Wordsworth. The Wordsworth Daffodil Garden was created in 2004 from a piece of land which belonged to the Church but which was unuseable for burials.

St. Oswald

St. Oswald, west window

Oswald was born around 601 AD, the second son of the pagan king Aethelfrith of Northumbria. After their father’s death his elder brother Eanfrith fled north, while Oswald, his younger brother Oswy and sister Ebba were looked after by the community at Iona. Oswald grew into manhood taught by the community, he could read and write, he was a brave soldier and most of all a Christian prince. He fought in Ireland, and returned after his brother Eanfrith was killed trying to reclaim his father’s throne. Oswald rallied the disparate forces of his brother and father to fight the welsh prince Cadwalla and Penda, the king of Mercia, who had formed an alliance and extended their power northwards.

In 632 the small force of warriors led by Oswald assembled a few miles from Hexham, at a place now known as Heavenfield. Cadwalla and Penda had a much greater force, possibly three times the size, more experienced and battle hardened. Oswald spent the night in prayer before the battle and placed a large wooden cross in front of his camp. During his prayers he had a vision of Columcille (St. Columba) telling him that if he fought in the shadow of the cross he had put up, he would be victorious. Assembling his force at the first light of dawn, he prayed and then led his army down the hill, overwhelming Cadwalla and Penda, leaving Cadwalla dead and Penda fleeing for his life. His victory re-united the two separate provinces Bernicia and Deira of his father’s old kingdom of Northumbria.

Oswald quickly became the most powerful king of the Angles and Saxons. He made alliances with neighbouring kingdoms and became overload of a vast area, stretching from Lothian, Dumfries and Galloway, all the way through modern Cumbria and Lancashire to Cheshire, and then on the other side of the Pennines down to modern Lincolnshire. He was also in alliance with Wessex, marrying Cyneburch, daughter of the king Cyneglis. It was at this time the Pope gave him the title Bretwalda, which means ‘Lord of Britain’.

In 632 the new king invited Iona to establish a community in Northumbria, and after a failed first attempt St Aidan founded the community at Lindisfarne. Bede and other sources describe how the two would travel together around the kingdom and proclaim the faith, Oswald often acting as translator for the Gaelic speaking Aidan. As Oswald’s power and influence grew so did the distance travelled.

The faith spread quickly, and the pattern of conversion was simple. The story is told of Oswald coming to the valley which later Norse settlers called Grasmere, and finding the local people worshipping an oak tree set among their ancestor’s graves, he cut down the tree to make an altar. He told the people about Jesus and ordered a simple church be constructed on the site. It is said the people received the new faith with joy.

No one knows the site of this event. In the seventh century the tiny population lived in or near what is now the Hollins on the Keswick road; however no archaeological remains of a Saxon church have been found there. Ancient peoples did not bury their dead next to where they lived, and often had burial grounds near water, lakes and rivers. As the present church is next to the river where the marshes would have led down to the lake, it is entirely possible it is built on the site of the pagan oak tree.

Oswald was well known for his acts of kindness and generosity, the most famous story being of his gift to the poor one Easter Day, when king Oswald had sat down to dinner at his castle in Bamburgh with Bishop Aidan, and a silver dish was placed on the table before him full of rich foods. They raised their hands to ask a blessing, when there came in an officer whose duty it was to help the needy, telling him that a great multitude of poor people from every district was asking alms of the king. He at once ordered the food which had been set in front of him to be carried to the poor, the dish to be broken up, and the pieces divided amongst them.

The bishop, who was sitting by, was delighted with this pious act, grasped him by the right hand, and said, “May this hand never decay”. His blessing and his prayer were fulfilled when Oswald was killed in battle, his hand and arm were cut off from the rest of his body, and were preserved in a silver shrine in St Peter’s Chapel in Bamburgh castle. (The chapel was in ruins by the 18th century, the shrine long since lost, and the site was covered by extensive rebuilding in the Victorian era.)

He was also known as ‘Oswald the open handed’ on account of his unusual manner of praying, seated with his arms outstretched and the palms of his hands turned upwards.

War though was always a consideration for Oswald. In 642 Oswald was not so fortunate and as he pursued Penda again, this time back into Mercia, he was fatally wounded in battle. As he lay dying he prayed for the souls of those who had died that day. The place became the site of many miracles and a shrine was established there with a small chapel, known as Oswald’s Oratory – today we call it Oswestry. Oswald was proclaimed a saint of the church shortly afterwards and the powerful kingdom of Northumbria remained a fervently Christian powerhouse under his successors Oswy and Oswin. The great community of Lindisfarne inspired generations of Christian leaders, and Oswald rightly deserves his place as the model Christian king for the centuries that followed.