St Bridget, Bridekirk, Cumbria.

St Bridget (which has also been known as St Bride), Bridekirk, near Cockermouth, Cumbria is a Grade II listed church designed by the Carlisle architects, John A. Cory (1819-1887) and Charles John Ferguson (1840-1904) in 1868, and completed in 1870. The listing text describes it as being constructed of "[r[ock-faced calciferous sandstone"with a "[g]raduated greenslate roof." The most striking external features are the powerful square tower at the crossing, the buttresses, the round-headed windows and the looming apse similar to the one at Ferguson's church at Tebay. Ferguson "excelled" in this Neo-Norman or Romanesque-Revival style (Hyde and Pevsner 183).

Two more exterior views. Left: The west end, with its wheel window. Right: The apse at the east end, with its row of round-headed windows.

There would have been a special reason for choosing such a style here, because the ruins of the older, probably mid-twelfth-century church on this spot could still be seen — even now, part of the chancel stands near the gate to the churchyard. Other parts were usefully incorporated into the new church, including: the east doorway of the south transept, the inner doorway of the south porch, the arch over the organ (thought to have been the old chancel arch), and (most notably) the font.

Two interior views. Left: Looking east: note the brick-lined roof, and the dramatic circle of blind arcading in the apse. Right: Looking west, with light pouring in through the wheel window and the three widely spaced single windows below it.

The interior looks spacious. It is brick lined, with some subtle polychromy around the windows and above the columns, where longer stripes of reddish brick can be seen, contrasting with the buff brickwork rising along the transept. "Chancel and crossing are rib-vaulted, with brick webs, the rest boarded to a barrel shape" (Hyde and Pevsner 183). The choir-stalls too are Romanesque.

Left: The Romanesque font. Right: Close-up of some of the figures.

The font, with its quaint and cryptic figures, is what attracts most attention here. At the top, in the closer view, are two odd creatures eating a plant, and lower down on the left is what seems to be a self-portrait of the mason, hard at work with large hammer and chisel. On the far right, on the other face of the font shown here, the scene of Jesus's baptism can be glimpsed. Perhaps even more exciting, the mason's name ("Rikard") appears in a band of runic text. It is wonderful that this, like other remnants of the old church, has come down to us, and testimony to the respect felt by these Victorian architects for the unique craftsmanship of the medieval past. There is some good Victorian stained glass in the church as well, and there are some brass memorials by John Hardman.

Photographs by Simon Cooke. You may use the images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL, or cite the Victorian Web in a print document. [Click on all the images to enlarge them].

Related Material


Church of St Bride, Bridekirk. Historic England. Web. 5 September 2019.

Hyde, Matthew, and Nikolaus Pevsner. Cumbria: Cumberland, Westmorland and Furness. Buildings of England. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010.

Created 5 September 2019