St John the Baptist, Arkholme
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There has been a church in Arkholme believed to have been dedicated to St John the
Baptist, since at least the middle of the 15th Century. Originally it was a chapelry of the
parish of Melling and all funerals and weddings took place on the opposite side of the
river Lune. At the bottom of the hill past the church is Ferryman’s Cottage which gives
an indication of how coffins would have been transported across the river.
In 1866 Arkholme became a parish in its own right and burials could take place in the
There is the base of an ancient cross in the churchyard, but by far the largest feature is the
mound to the north east of the church which is an 11th Century motte. The bailey is
thought to be roughly where the church is situated. This earthwork was probably raised as
a defence against invaders, and is one of a series of earthworks in the Lune Valley.
The church has a most unusual bellcote on the West gable housing a single bell. This bell,
which measures 21 inches in diameter, is said to be one of the oldest bells in England to
be inscribed along its lower edge. The inscription, in 14th Century Lombardic capitals
reads :- IHS : NAZARENUS : REX : JUDEORUM : FILI DEI
The Church probably dates from around the year 1450 Originally a simple barn-like
structure, the rectangular building is known to have been refurbished at least twice, the
first time in 1788 when the bellcote was added together with a small vestry and a door in
the west wall. The second restoration was in 1897 by Austin and Paley of Lancaster,
when the door in the west wall was replaced by the present window. New pews were
installed, the original three tier pulpit replaced, the vestry enlarged and the porch
reconstructed. All the windows except the Woodhouse Window (the only stained glass
window in the church) were replaced and a new east window was installed retaining the
original hood mould.
There are two fonts in the church. The smaller one dating from 1788 is no longer used,
the newer larger font has an oak cover which is a memorial to the last of the Arkholme
basket makers Charles Ireland
The organ was donated to the church in 1906 having been built by a local firm of organ
builders, Messrs Bibby & Wolfenden .
A board listing the Arkholme charities hangs on the North wall, money from some of
these charities now provides bibles presented to children of the village school when they
Hanging on the West wall is a copy and translation of the charter granted to the lord of
the manor of Ergum one Geoffry Nevill and his heirs for a yearly fair on the “vigil feast
and morrow” of St John the Baptist (23 – 25th June) and a weekly market on
Wednesdays. This charter was granted at Winchester on the 28th December 1279 during
the reign of Edward 1.
Above the choirstalls and on one of the pillars on the South side are some 15th Century
The base of an ancient cross stands in the churchyard near the south side of the church.
Roughly of an octagonal shape, the stone is about 3 ft in diameter and 2 ft high with a
square hole into which the stem of the cross fitted.
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The current editor is: Michael Hampson