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The Parish Church of St Cuthbert, Aldingham

The Parish Church of St.Cuthbert, Aldingham stands stubbornly on the shore of Morecambe Bay protected by a sturdy sea wall. The elements have left their mark over the years, a significant part of the former village and its environs having been lost to the sea many years ago.

The Church building is thought to have been founded in 1147 and of this Norman period the round arches and pillars of the South Arcade remain. Recent work exposed part of a Norman arch in the west wall of the South Aisle. Daniel le Fleming, son of Michael the Lord of the Manor was its first Rector in 1180.

At some time between 1200 and 1250 the chancel was extended by 15 feet and traces of the earlier chancel can still be seen.
The tower was built about 1350 and at the same time all but one of the Norman windows were replaced, the west window and battlements above are 15th century additions.

There is no evidence of any earlier Church on the site but a badly worn fragment of a Saxon standing cross is built into the east wall below the window, evidence perhaps of the time when the monks of Lindisfarne would have brought the relics of St. Cuthbert here possibly with a view to taking them to Ireland to escape the Danes. St CuthbertThere is evidence reported by the local grave digger of Viking burials on the North side of the church.
The chancel area is wonderfully peaceful. It houses an old stone grave slab which once marked the grave of Goditha of Scales; the floral-design cross dates the stone to the 13th century and suggests she may have been an abbess.

This was discovered when Revd. Dr. Stonard undertook a major extension to the North Aisle in the 1840’s which unfortunately means that earlier remains of importance now lie buried and out of reach. He also opened the west door, pulled down the south porch, fitted new pews, paved the nave and put in the ceiling which now hides the beautiful wooden beams similar to those in the chancel. He was also responsible for the erection of Aldingham Hall in 1846 intended for his dwelling but he left it instead to his butler!

The church building is simple in style and character but is a wonderful record of changing architectural style over the years. The ‘squint’ and ‘leper’s hole’ add further colour and interest to this place of prayer. Its location and its deep sense of peace attract a large number of walkers and other visitors to the Bay.

Interior As a Crown living it has in the past attracted some ‘worthy’ clergymen’ and a couple of bishops. More information is available at the Church and a new display is planned for 2004.

The Church serves a large, scattered rural area including the small villages of Newbiggin, Scales and Baycliff and despite the decline in rural industries and the loss of its School still supports a small, faithful worshipping community and provides a beautiful setting for weddings.

* More detailed history of this church

* St Cuthbert in Cumbria

Read St. Cuthbert and his Associations with Cumbria leaflet