St. Oswald's Church, Grasmere
OS Grid ref:- NY3307
Grasmere village church is dedicated to St. Oswald of Northumbria, who was believed to have preached on the site before 642 A.D., when he died in battle. The church, which stands sturdily on the banks of the River Rothay and at the heart of the village, was mentioned in Wordsworth's poem 'The Prelude'.
St. Oswald's Church
A Grade I listed building, St. Oswald's was begun in the thirteenth century, but occupies the site of an earlier, Saxon church. The church has large imposing roof timbers and still retained its earthen floor up until the nineteenth century, rushes were gathered from the lake and carried in bundles to spread on the floor. This ancient tradition, now known as the Grasmere Rush Bearing Festival is still re-enacted annually on the nearest Saturday to St. Oswald's Day, (5th August).
St. Oswald's church interior
The oak pews date from 1881. A glass display case near to the organ contains William Wordsworth's prayer book. The font is believed to have originally come from Furness Abbey.
There are many impressive stained glass windows in the church, the east window remains clear and provides superb views of the Lakeland fells. The baptistry window depicts the churches patron, St Oswald, a seventh Century Christian King of Northumberland, who is reputed to have preached on this site. The two South windows are the work of the famous stained glass designer, Henry Holiday. Also of interest is the statue of the Madonna and Child by Ophelia Bell, whose marriage ceremony to the local artist William Heaton Cooper took place in the Church.
William Wordsworth Memorial
A marble memorial to William Wordsworth, containing a profile relief of the poet between daffodils and bluebells is placed high on the wall to the left of the altar, written by the Oxford theologian John Keble. Close to the altar stands a carved stone, thought to be part of a cross shaft dating from the twelfth century. The church also contains several monuments to the Le Fleming family of nearby Rydal Hall.
Wordsworth's grave in the churchyard
Wordsworth lies buried in the churchyard which the River Rothay flows sedately past. His grave is surrounded by others of his family, including his wife, Mary, sister Dorothy and his children, Dora, John and Thomas. The grave is sheltered by one of the eight yew trees which the poet himself planted there. A nearby stone commemorates the poet's younger brother John Wordsworth, who was killed at sea in 1805.
Grasmere's famous Rushbearing Ceremony, is centred on St Oswald's Church, and is held annually in August