Wigton Church of St Mary

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Ecclesiastical site

There are no visible remains

NameWigton Church of St Mary
Alternative Names
Historic CountryCumberland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishWigton

C18 church on site of C14 church which may have had fortified tower like that at Burgh Church.

Parish church built in 1788 on a medieval site. Restoration work took place in 1881. Built of red sandstone with a graduated greenslate roof. Two storeyed with an eight bay nave, a three storey west tower, a north vestry and a lower single bay chancel. Documentary sources indicate that part of the old church was crenellated without licence in 1375. It was demolished in 1788 and a source suggests that battering rams had to be used to bring down the walls. (PastScape)

To William de Ergum late escheator in Cumberland. Order to remove the king's hand and not to meddle further with the church of Wygton and the fruits and profits thereof, delivering without delay to the abbot and convent of Holmcoltram any issues and profits thereof taken; as lately the king ordered the escheator to certify in chancery under his seal touching the annual value of the said fruits and profits, desiring to know the cause wherefore the escheator took the same into his hand, and he certified that he found by inquisition, before him taken of his office, that without the king's licence parcel of the said church is crenellated for defence, that the church pertains to the said abbot and convent, and that with the fruits thereof it is worth 100 marks a year, and for that cause the church and fruits are in the king's hand; and the king reckons that cause insufficient. March 18. Westminster. (CCR 1374-77 p. 11)

Gatehouse Comments

It should be noted the crenellating the church tower for defence was not considered a sufficient offence to take the church into royal hands. The roll reads to Gatehouse as though the escheator was being over zealous and was finding technical offences. However, as Burgh church was also held by Holme Cultram Abbey in the C14 and its demolition in the C18 does some to have been notably difficult it is probable the tower was similar to the west tower at Burgh.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY256482
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  • Brooke, C.J., 2000, Safe Sanctuaries (Edinburgh; John Donald) p. 294-5
  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 29
  • Carrick, T.W., 1949, History of Wigton (Carlisle)


  • Coulson, C., 1994, 'Freedom to Crenellate by Licence - An Historiographical Revision' Nottingham Medieval Studies Vol. 38 p. 126n122
  • Longley, K.M., 1983, 'The Scottish Incursions of 1327: A Glimpse of the Aftermath (Wigton Church Accounts, 1328-9)' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 83 p. 63-72 online copy
  • Collingwood, W.G., 1928, 'Wigton Old Church' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 28 p. 96-102 online copy

Primary Sources


  • English Heritage, 2006, Extensive Urban Survey - Cumbria (Cumbria County Council) Download copy
  • Kelland, C.H., 1982, Ecclesiae Incastellatae: A Documentary and Architectural Study of the Concept of 'Fortified Churches' in England and Wales (M.Phil. Thesis, 2 vols, University College, University of London)