The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Hesket-in-the-Forest, is in the village of High Hesket. Hescath, Hescayth or Hesket means a house in the forest; or in old norse it means a horse race track.
The earliest chapelry in Inglewood Forest may have been here in c1200. It is documented that in 1340 there was a chapelry in the parish of St. Mary’s, Carlisle when Bishop Kirkly licensed John de Eskeved priest to minister at Hesket and to teach grammar at the Bishop's School in Penrith. This chapel may have been built by Sir William Langleys, the King's Chief Forester 1328-1342.
St Mary’s chancel and its lovely stone arch date from 1537, when, because of the plague, Hesket was licensed to have its own burial ground and to act as a parochial chapel. The nave and aisle were rebuilt in 1720 in Georgian style. The western porch was added in the early 18th century. An organ loft and three-decker pulpit were removed in 1874 and the present organ given by the James family of Barrock Park the same year. The oak box pews were removed in 1906 and replaced by pine pews and in 1950 the oak choir stalls were moved to their present position.
Services are held on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Sunday at 11am. On a 5th Sunday a benefice service is held in one of the other 6 churches in the group at the earlier time of 10.30am. Please pay us a visit, we would love to see you.
St Mary’s is open every day for prayer and visiting from 10am to 3pm