West Cumbria: Pt 3 – Moresby Church, Hall and Roman Fort

On the way from Workington to Whitehaven, a large church loomed in the horizon. It’s age intrigued us so we pulled up for a quick look, and so found that there was a lot more to the area than met the eye…

Moresby:

Status: Copeland District, Cumbria, Village, England

Date: 13/04/2014

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Moresby Hall, St Bridgets Church, Roman Moresby, Sea Views etc

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Our first stop was the church, and we found a spot to park right next to it. Moresby Church is officially called the church of St Bridget, and dates back to 1822. We were right when we thought it looked old, and it is a commanding presence on the cliff top overlooking the Irish Sea.

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In the vast graveyard outside St Bridget’s, stands the large chancel arch that is the only surviving section of the previous church, which was demolished in 1822. It was after this that the current building was built, and it celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1972.

The arch is a lovely reminder that history goes back a long way,and that even though current buildings might only be around 200 years old, the history of the site goes back much further, and churches on the site are documented back at least another 500 years before 1822.

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Looking back from the other end of the graveyard you can see Moresby Hall off to the right. This former manor house was built hundreds of years ago in the 12th century, and is one of only three Grade I Listed Buildings in the entire district. Many of the Moresby Family are buried in the churchyard.

In the 17th century ownership of the hall passed to the Fletcher Family, with some new additions being made to the building in 1620, and again by 1690. 250 years after the Fletcher Family took up residence, ownership passed to a variety of people after Thomas Fletcher died childless. The building was restored between 1920 and 195, before being reopened as a hotel in 1999 by Jane and David Saxon.

It must be an incredible place to stay, with so much history all around you, as well as the fact that the hall is supposedly haunted, with skeletons appearing in various places from the chimney to under the floorboards… Spooky!

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Past the end of the graveyard is a stone wall, which has the above information board on it. The area on the other side of the wall was once a Roman Fort, and you can see what it would have looked like on the picture. The Roman name for the fort was Gabrosentum, and was probably built somewhere around AD 128.

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Today there are no visible remains, but this field on the other side of the wall is the site of the Fort. It is a great place to build a fortification, as just below it the cliff drops down to sea level, making it a great vantage point against any possible intruders. It does say on the information board that the bank of earth marking the perimeter line of the fort is still there, and indeed it is, further along the field there is a dip and it is clearly visible.

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Although the Roman’s would have had a completely different view 2000 years ago, the views today are stunning, as you can stand and look out over the Irish Sea. On the panoramic I took you can see the train line running along the coast, with a stop in the village of Parton which is sat at the base of the cliff.

The cliffs of Cumbria along the next section of coast are visible in the distance, and it’s an incredible place to stand and take in the sea air.

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Zooming in a bit, I could make out the lighthouse at the end of the stone pier at Whitehaven, one of two piers shielding the entrance to Whitehaven Harbour. It was here that we were headed next, so I was hoping that from the lighthouse I would be able to see back up to the church.

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Looking back, you can see the Church at the other end of the Fort Field. It’s a great location here, it is very quiet and there are only villages for the next few miles until you arrive in Whitehaven. The whole place had a lovely sense of calm about it, and it’s one of those nice little finds between major locations that make road trips so interesting.

As I said, there is a train station in nearby Parton, and of course in Whitehaven. The main roads connecting Workington, Whitehaven and the rest of the Cumbrian Coast also run through here, so if you want to visit the Church there are good transport links. From Parton station it is around a 10 minute (half a mile) walk up to the Hall and the Church.

We pushed on to Whitehaven, and parked up in the town centre ready to explore the large town, port and seaside locality…

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