News and Events

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: www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works

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: ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/your-personal-information-concerns or ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/

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.

Parish Safeguarding Handbook

The Parish of St. Oswald, Grasmere

Parish Safeguarding Policy

PROMOTING A SAFER CHURCH

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 church.
  • Responding promptly to every safeguarding concern or allegation.
  • Caring pastorally for victims/survivors of abuse and other affected persons.
  • 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.

Priest-in-charge: Rev. David Wilmot

Churchwardens: Sonia Rickman, Helen Bunfield

Date: 27.5.18 revised 30.6.19

Who we are…

A very warm “Welcome” to St Oswald’s Church, Grasmere.

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 Choral Evensongs.

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 worship. 

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 much alive.

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.

We look forward to welcoming you. Join us!

How to add content to the Website

You will first need to register, then log in and start typing.

How to do this.

1. Go to the website, on the sidebar under the Admin tab is a login link. Click this.

2. The first time, you won’t have a Username and Password, but there is a “Register” option. Create a username, and enter the email address you would like WordPress to use. It will send you an email with a password reset link.

3. Open the email and change the password to something memorable. Remember the password – the admins won’t have access to this, but we could reset it if you forget.

4. Go back to the login page and log in.

5. You will then get a dashboard, which may be unfamiliar if you’ve never previously done anything with WordPress. In the left hand column, go to “Posts” then “Add New”.

6. You are now in the WordPress editor. Add a Title for your article, and then start writing the text. For those unfamiliar with WordPress, it has various editing modes, this site defaults to the relatively new ‘Block’ editor. There are many types of Block for creating content, the most useful to start with are the Paragraph block which has the symbol, the Header block with the symbol, and the Image block with the symbol.

With the Image block, use the buttons to left or right-align the image within the text.

7. There’s a Preview button in the top right hand corner to see how it will look. When you’ve finished, click Publish and Submit for Review.

8. It then goes to the Admin to set it live on the site.

9. To add an event to the Calendar, go to My Calendar, Add New Event and add the Event Title. Scroll down to add the Date, Start time and End time, then scroll up or down to find the Publish button and click that. The event then goes to the Admin to go live.

Music at Grasmere

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.

Grasmere 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‘.
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Sadly, with the coronavirus, the programme of concerts has been suspended.

Rushbearing

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.

In pre-Reformation 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.

There are 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 Ambleside”.

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.

The traditional 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 bearings.

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.

THE RUSHBEARING PICTURE

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 wooden shutters.