Church of England Diocese of Carlisle Grasmere

About Us

Worship: Sundays at 11am Common Worship 1 Sung Communion, with the Choir of St Oswald's Church

Festivals (occasionally): Sundays at 4pm Evensong (Book of Common Prayer 1662), with the Choir of St Oswald's Church

Quarterly: Sundays at 11am Methodist Service 

Occasionally Sundays at 11am CW1 Family Communion, with School (e.g. Harvest, Mothering Sunday)

Annually Saturday in July Rushbearing Procession and Service in St Oswalds, with Sunday Patronal Festival at 11am for St Oswald

For more information please kindly email us: [email protected]

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St Oswald's Church is by the River Rothay, which runs into Grasmere, Rydal Water and Windermere. It is thought that King Oswald of Northumbria passed through Rydale, the main route through the Lake District from north to south, in the 7th Century AD. When Oswald won his kingdom in battle, he invited the monastic community of Irish monks on the Hebridean island of Iona to send him a bishop to bring the Christian faith to his new people. Oswald had lived among the Iona community (founded by Columba) as an exiled prince, and taken on the Christian faith.

Ancient churches are often beside rivers because the people gathered to worship outside and new members of the Christian faith community were baptised in the river, joining God's family to share Holy Communion when a priest or bishop came along. Oswald acted as interpreter for Irish monks when they prayed and preached, probably including Bishop Aidan who was sent from Iona. Aidan's community was based on Holy Island, Lindisfarne, a few miles offshore from Bamburgh, the royal base for Oswald and his family. The kingdoms of Northumbria and Deira stretched from the River Humber to the River Forth (now in Scotland) and across to the west. 

St Oswald's Church is probably, therefore, on a site dating back to the earliest days of Christianity in northern Britain. It is an ancient sacred place of prayer and song, reflection and gathering, baptism and sharing Holy Communion.. In time, the church was built, extended, re-roofed and now the tower nears restoration in November 2017. The church has welcomed many significant worshippers over the centuries and is visited by international travellers paying their respects to William Wordsworth and his wider family, who are buried in the churchyard. There is a memorial to William in the church itself.

The annual Rushbearing Ceremony is still held in July, when rushes cut from Grasmere are strewn across the church floor for a week, after a processon of wooden symbols with rushes wound around them, dating back a considerable time. Children and families from the village primary school take a full part, along with local people, watched by many visitors. 

There is a strong and welcoming resident congregation who enjoy meeting the many international visitors who share worship on Sundays at 11am. St Oswald's Church is a beacon of peace and hope in a stunning location and a very vibrant village. There is a lovely Daffodil Garden between the churchyard and the river to walk through, as well as the beautiful, peaceful church to visit and to say a prayer.

St Oswald's has a wonderful organ and a growing church choir, leading worship including Choral Evensong from time to time. We welcome musicians and singers for a concert series, developing in 2018. There are many social gatherings and events with speakers in the church and village.

We look forward to welcoming you.