The following policy was agreed at a Parochial Church Council (PCC) meeting held on 27.5.18.
In accordance with the
Church of England Safeguarding Policy our church is committed to:
Promoting a safer environment and culture.
Safely recruiting and supporting all those with any responsibility
related to children, young people and vulnerable adults within the
Responding promptly to every safeguarding concern or allegation.
Caring pastorally for victims/survivors of abuse and other affected
Caring pastorally for those who are the subject of concerns or
allegations of abuse and other affected persons.
Responding to those that may pose a present risk to others.
The Parish will:
Create a safe and caring place for all.
Have a named Parish Safeguarding Officer to work with the incumbent and the PCC to implement policy and procedures.
Safely recruit, train and support all those with any responsibility for children, young people and adults to have the confidence and skills to recognise and respond to abuse.
Ensure that there is appropriate insurance cover for all activities involving children and adults undertaken in the name of the parish.
Display in church premises and on the Parish website the details of who to contact if there are safeguarding concerns or support needs.
Listen to and take seriously all those who disclose abuse.
Take steps to protect children and adults when a safeguarding concern of any kind arises, following House of Bishops guidance, including notifying the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser and statutory agencies immediately.
Offer support to victims/survivors of abuse regardless of the type of abuse, when or where it occurred.
Care for and monitor any member of the church community who may pose a risk to children and adults whilst maintaining appropriate confidentiality and the safety of all parties.
Ensure that health and safety policy, procedures and risk assessments are in place and that these are reviewed annually.
Review the implementation of the Safeguarding Policy, Procedures and Practices at least annually.
Each person who works
within this church community will agree to abide by this policy and
the guidelines established by this church.
This church appoints Sonia Rickman as the Parish Safeguarding Officer.
A very warm “Welcome” to St Oswald’s
We are in the heart of the Lake District, now a
World Heritage Site. St Oswald’s is a mediaeval church on a site
dating back to the earliest days of Christianity in northern Britain.
Locals and visitors ‘belong’ here, in the quiet of a weekday visit
and the sung Eucharistic worship on Sundays and festivals.
There is a strong and welcoming congregation who
enjoy meeting the many visitors who share worship on Sundays at 11am.
Additional services are held during major festivals and occasional
songs of praise, choral evensongs with visiting choirs.
St Oswald’s has a wonderful organ and a church
choir, leading worship at the principal Sunday service and occasional
In Grasmere, a formal Covenant signed on Advent Sunday 1999 created Churches Together in Grasmere. The four denominations share closely in worship, study and pastoral care.
On 1 September 2008 St Oswald’s became an Anglican
and Methodist Local Ecumenical Partnership. All our services
are open to everyone and our pattern reflects the shared use of the
building. All services are united and we share in each other’s
We would describe our style as sympathetic to
traditional worship, with the Eucharist central to our life. We are
keen to develop different forms of worship for all ages and, like
many other rural communities, the local population come for big
services such as Christmas and Rush Bearing.
The Rush Bearing festival held in July each year
attracts the community and visitors alike. Its origins are lost in
the mist of many centuries but it involves a procession, act of
worship, tea with gingerbread and the church carpeted with rushes.
Though it involves lots of preparation, this age long festival keeps
the rural tradition of church and community giving thanks to God very
The Village School is C of E Voluntary aided and
is consistently rated highly by Ofsted. The children visit and use
the church throughout the year. To help support the school there is a
strong network of volunteers from the community.
In summary we feel we are truly blessed to live in such a beautiful part of the country, with a peaceful church to visit and to say a prayer.
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Music at Grasmere is a programme of concerts and choral
services at St Oswald’s Church, organized on behalf of the PCC by the
Director of Music, Ian Hare.
These events include organ recitals,
instrumental and choral concerts, choral evensongs and an annual ‘Come
and Sing’ oratorio. Proceeds from the concerts currently support the
Organ Renovation Appeal.
The church possesses a fine Steinway grand piano and a three manual organ by J. J. Binns, donated by the Taylor of Grasmere in memory of their daughter, Nellie, who died in France during World War I. 100 years on this fine historic organ is in need of restoration, details of which can be found on our Appeal Pages.
has a fine musical heritage and events at St Oswald’s Church reflect a
diverse range of music. The church has a well-established choir.
The full 2020 programme can be found in the Calendar, tagged ‘Music‘. [This block is hidden!]
Sadly, with the coronavirus, the programme of concerts has been suspended.
Rushbearing in its present form goes back in Grasmere to the 1840s. The tradition though is much older and probably dates back to pre-Christian festivals. The present Rushbearing is a celebration of the Parish Church and its patron saint St Oswald.
times, the floors of churches were of soil, and rushes were used as a
covering. There are entries of payments for rushes at St. Margaret’s
Westminster (1544), at Kirkham (Lancs) (1604), and at Castleton
(Derbyshire) (1749). At Grasmere, not only was the floor of the
church of earth until 1841, but bodies were buried in the Church
until 1823. It was vitally important that the atmosphere of the
church be kept fragrant, therefore; which makes it highly likely that
fresh rushes were laid on the floor not only at the Rushbearing on
St. Oswald’s Day (5th August) but at regular intervals in the
meantime also. There is a strange, sweet, pungent, aromatic smell to
green rushes collected indoors, which would have been important for
this purpose. The church floor was raised and flagged in 1841, and
the practical necessity of rushbearing was thus removed. However the
ceremonies associated with it live on.
Rushbearings at other places nearby, but as the Grasmere Parish
Magazine of 1890 claimed, “Of these, Grasmere is the most
distinguished, as Grasmere is the mother church of both Langdale and
The rushes and reeds
are collected from around the village in the days leading up to
Rushbearing and a hard-working team bind the rushes tightly round
their frames of the Bearings.
bearings include the Gold Cross, a processional cross decorated with
gold flowers which leads the procession; “Levavi Oculos (‘I
will lift up mine eyes’, the first words of Psalm 121, which is
sometimes called the Grasmere Psalm!), “Cantate Domino” (‘O
sing unto the Lord’, the opening words of Psalm 98), St. Oswald
642, the date when the Christian King Oswald, who is believed to have
preached the Gospel in person in Grasmere, probably on the site of
the church) was killed in battle by the pagan King Penda of Mercia,
the Maypole, the Serpent, reminding us of Satan bound for all time.
Other Traditional Bearings include Harp, Lyre, Prince of Wales
Feathers, Celtic Cross, Hoops and Circles (symbols of eternity). The
Procession also includes many home-made bearings of great ingenuity
around a variety of themes.
The rush maidens in
their green and white dresses carry the linen Rush Sheet with rushes,
reeds and flowers sewn onto the linen. The procession is led by
Processional Cross, woven with golden flowers, followed by seven of
the Traditional Bearings, Choir, Clergy and Churchwardens, next comes
St. Oswald’s Banner and then the Rush Maidens with the Rush Sheet.
Next comes the Band and then more Bearings and colourful home-made
The Procession winds
its way past the Gingerbread Shop, up College Street to Sam Read’s
Bookshop, then left by the Studio and stops at Moss Parrock for
prayers and the singing of the Rushbearing hymn. Then down to Red
Lion Square past Dale Lodge, round the corner and back to the church
for the Rushbearing Service.
The floor of the
Church is thick with fragrant green rushes. The Bearings are placed
near the altar rails and between the archways of the Langdale Aisle
and the Church is packed to the doors for the service with its
special hymns and prayers.
A painting by Frank
Bramley R.A. was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1905 and purchased
for the village in 1913. It shows the Rush-Maidens carrying their
sheet in the Procession on its way over the bridge from the church to
the school field (a route not now taken by the Procession). All the
figures represented are portraits of Grasmere people. The painting is
in the care of the National Trust, and hangs in the Grasmere Village
Hall though it is out of sight for most of the time behind protective
The present church
is the fourth one on this site and the earliest parts of this
building date from 1250AD. Remnants of previous buildings can be seen
in the existing church, most obvious is the stone head above the
There are three external doors:
The South Door with porch; this has always been the main door.
The Langdale Door, (next to the vestry), so called because it was the entrance to the Langdale Chapel of Ease which now forms the North aisle.
The Lepers Door, by the altar rail covered by the blue memorial curtain, (this is sometimes called a priest’s door’).
The tower is built of unhewn boulders probably taken from the riverbed of the Rothay, the walls are up to 4 feet thick, and the tower is 65 feet tall.
The clock was given to mark the Diamond Jubilee for Queen Victoria in 1897. There are three ringing bells in the tower and a mechanism provides striking for the quarters and hour throughout the day and night.
At the foot of the tower is the old Parish Chest from 1563 in which were kept the registers and Wardens accounts. Nothing is kept in the chest now and all the parish records are lodged in the Kendal Record Office.
The font is probably 14th century but its origin is unknown. The Church was under the authority of the Abbey of Great St Mary, York from 1396 until 1538 and it may be that the font was provided by the monks.
The Nave is the main area of the church where the congregation sit and gets its name from the Latin for boat, (we also get the word navy from the same root) and reminds worshippers of the Ark, God’s boat which carries all to safety.
The Nave consists of two aisles. The Tower and South aisle are from 1250AD and the North was added as a separate building in 1490AD for the people of Langdale. Originally in 1490 this area was entirely separate from the original Church, this was used as a ‘chapel of ease’ for the Brathay valley. However, the gully between the two roofs collected snow and rainwater and in 1562 John Benson of Baisbrown bequeathed money, ‘so that the Roofe be taken down and maide oop again’. So the roof was raised up in 1563 using stone from the curtain wall, (the wall down the centre of the building) where the arches were created.
This created a new third roof overarching the other two and bringing the whole church under a single roof. Almost certainly this is unique, with the tangle of timbers described by Wordsworth in The Excursion:
‘Not raised in nice proportion was the pile, But large and massy; for duration built; With pillars crowded, and the roof upheld By naked rafters intricately crossed, Like leafless underboughs in some thick wood, All withered by the depth of shade above’.
The floor was raised and slated in the 1840s hereafter the annual ‘rushbearing’ became a village festival rather than performing any practical function.
The Nave Windows
The windows are all post reformation. The pair on the south side are in memory of the Olivier family and are the work of Henry Holiday, a student of Burne Jones. The other two stained glass windows are also Victorian and Edwardian.
The window in the Langdale aisle portrays the story of the Presentation.
At the foot of the tower St Oswald is portrayed in the window and this was placed in memory of Christina Ascroft in 1907.
The Nave Wall
Plaques & Memorials
The verses of scripture were placed in the church during Queen Anne’s reign in 1712. The original wall paintings were lime washed and the scriptures replaced them. The plaques that were by the altar which show the Ten Commandments and the Apostles Creed are now on the west wall above the Langdale door.
The memorial opposite the South door has the striking profile of Elizabeth Fletcher which is by her son, the artist Angus Fletcher, who was companion of Charles Dickens; the Wordsworth Trust have her original diaries.
Further down the church the Madonna & Child sculpture is a memorial to the artist Ophelia Gordon Bell. This statue is a copy of her favourite commission for a convent in Surrey. The statue in the convent has the infant Jesus gazing at the cross.
By the lectern, the plaque in memory of Sir John Richardson remembers one of the great Victorian explorers and doctors, who as Surgeon General of the Royal Navy, introduced anaesthetics.
The chancel is the area of the church where the ministers and musicians sit, the name has the same Latin root as Chancellor and denotes that the people who sit here have the care of worship.
The most striking feature is the ‘capacious pew’ provided by Sir Daniel Fleming in 1633, which was used by the family for nearly two centuries until Rydal Church was built in 1827.
The choir stalls opposite were remodeled in 1981 as a memorial to Canon Tait, (Rector 1945-73).
Above the stalls is the memorial stone to William Wordsworth as poet laureate, which was created by the pre-Raphaelite sculptor Woolner for Westminster Abbey. However as Wordsworth gave instructions to be buried in Grasmere his memorial stone was purchased by friends from Woolner and placed in the Church in 1851.
The origin of the brass Lectern is unknown, but was probably placed here when the pews and pulpit were replaced in 1911. Next to it is the Bishop’s Chair which was also given at this time. In addition there are two older “ministers seats”in the Sanctuary dated 1677 and l703.
The Rector’s stall was made in 1990 for Keith Wood (Rector 1984-94) by a local craftsman. The church war memorial is behind the pulpit and made of local stone.
Above the altar rail the roof beams are arranged differently from the rest of the church to accommodate the Holy Rood, but this was removed in the 16th century.
The east window was given by the relatives of Sir John Richardson to mark the Coronation of George VI and originally gave clear view of the top of the fells, (trees have since grown to obscure the fells).
The memorial curtain dates from 1939, recording those who were members of the congregation at the time and it was restored in 2011.
The two tables either side of the present altar are the previous oak altar table and the communion table from the closed Methodist Church in College Street, which was placed here when the LEP was formed in 2009.
The most prominent feature of the Sanctuary are the funeral plaques and memorials to the Le Fleming/Fleming families. Their distinctive symbol of a diamond shape with a cross through it is to be seen in many windows, on all these plaques and even in the wooden floor of the Sanctuary.
Sir Daniel Fleming’s memorial is on the north wall of the Sanctuary and the family’s motto is just above this, pax copia sapienta’, which means ‘peace, wealth and knowledge’. Originally the family were named Le Fleming and were given land by William the Conqueror on the West coast around Seascale. Sir Daniel Fleming dropped the French form of his surname when he moved to Rydal. The Flemings purchased the patronage of Grasmere from the Crown in 1580 before bequeathing it to Queen’s College Oxford in the nineteenth century. It was Sir Michael Le Fleming in the eighteenth century who restored the traditional surname. The present Baronet, Sir David Le Fleming is an artist and was married in Rydal Church in 2007.
In 2004 the Langdale
Aisle was remodeled to incorporate the new bookshop at the West end
and the pews on the North wall were turned to face South and into the
Nave. At the same time an open area to gather was created and this is
used now for serving refreshments after services or smaller meetings
in the church. As part of this improvement a ramp was put in the
Langdale aisle to provide permanent access to all parts of the Church
for anyone in a wheelchair.
The church was completely cleaned and limewashed internally in January 2008 by Geoff Lancaster. At the same time all the church woodwork was treated, oiled and polished. In 2009 the PA and loop system were renewed. In 2010 a new energy efficient gas condensing boiler was installed and the Church’s heating system was upgraded. In 2011 the memorial curtain was restored and repaired by two members of the congregation.
In 2017 the failing external rendering of the Tower was completely renewed, restoring it to its former glory. Read the full story here
The fabric of the Church needs constant attention but it is well loved and looked after by the present members of the congregation.
With acknowledgments to Cameron Butland who compiled much of the material on this and other pages in various publications, 2013 – 2015.
There are 3 ways you can donate to the organ fund:
Give.net – the Diocese of Carlisle’s facility for online giving, with an option for Gift Aid. Please enter “Organ Fund” in the Details box.
Bank transfer: Sort code 01-09-75 Account 62971573
Ref: Grasmere PCC Organ Fund
To Gift Aid your donation, please complete this form.
Cheque payable to “Grasmere PCC Organ Fund”, please send to Mr. J. Rickman, PCC Treasurer, 16 Benfield, Grasmere, Ambleside, LA22 9RD.
To Gift Aid your donation, please print off and complete this form and send with your donation.
If you pay UK tax you can increase the value of your donation by making a Gift Aid declaration. For someone paying Basic Rate Income Tax the increase in value would be 25%. Further information on the HMRC website.