About Us

If you are a visitor to our church or live in the area then we extend a warm welcome, we hope that the following short guide will be of interest to you.
The present church of st. Mary the Virgin was completed in 1849 on the site of the previous Church reputed to have been built in the 12th century.
The architect was James Stewart of Carlisle: it was built to a larger scale than the Church which it replaced and in style prevailing in the 14th Century. The cost of the building was £1,770.14s.10d.
It consists of a nave, chancel and one transept with a tower and spire on the south west of the nave.
The stone is white and comes from the Lanerton Quary near Gretna. The same stone was used for the pulpit and the original font.
Mr. John Scott of Carlisle made the windows. The east window represents the Crusifixtion, Resurrection and the Ascension and the original west window contained figures of St. Paul, St. Peter and the Virgin Mary but this was later replaced.
At the same time the Mounsey family installed a new West window in memory of their father, the subject of the creation. The original window was removed to Gilsland Church where it remains.
In 1880/81 the spire was heightened by several feet to form a more striking object from Casteltown.
In November 1899 a violent thunderstorm occurred and the spire was struck by lightning and demolished. The spire was rebuilt using insurance money, to the same height as before i.e. 114 feet above the ground, using the same stone as previously.
The font, which had been damaged when the spire collapsed, was replaced by a new one in alabaster and marble presented by Baroness von Boeselager, formerly Millicent Mounsey Heysham, in memory of her husband who died on the first anniversary of their wedding day.
The Church clock is deserving of a comment. It is an excellent example of the workmanship of locally important turret clockmaker John Blaycock. The clock movement is dated 1849. The family was originally from Longtown where they manufactured long case clocks in the 1770's but they moved to Carlisle in 1818. The family continued to make long case clocks, but eventually moved to the turret clock market. Their first turret clock was manufactured for St Lawrence's Church Appleby, and they continued in business until 1888. The clock has several unique features including the ‘dead beat’ escape wheel and a rack striking mechanism. It strikes the hour and half hour.
The clock was refurbished in 2006 by The Cumbria Clock Co. Ltd. of Dacre, Penrith. This was made possible by grants from:
The Rockcliffe and Westlinton CWN Trust fund, The Longtown Forum, Rockcliffe Parish Council, Donations in memory of Kathy Denholm.
The clock face was painted and regarded at the same time, this was paid for by individual donations from many parishioners.
The refurbished clock was rededicated by the Bishop of Penrith, the Rt. Revd. James Newcombe on Sunday 23rd July 2006.
The RAF ensign rests in the church testifying to the long association with No 14 Maintenance Unity, RAF now an industrial estate.
A number of interesting memorial plaques have been fitted; of special interest is the one in memory of Captain Wm. Mounsey RN 1765-1830 and his memorable capture of the French frigate La Furieuse.
Two ancient grave slabs are located in the porch. These were unearthed while excavation took place for the new Church in 1848.
The most ancient relic in the churchyard is the cross located at the junction of the main and centre pathways. The style is characteristic of Norse and Irish rather than English and suggests a 10/11th Century date.