Newton Arlosh Church of St John the Baptist

Has been described as a Certain Fortified Ecclesiastical site

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameNewton Arlosh Church of St John the Baptist
Alternative Names
Historic CountryCumberland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishHolme East Waver

A fortified church, probably built sometime post- 1304, after a licence to build the church was given: there is some debate as to the exact date when the fortified building was actually erected and it may have been as late as the late 14th century. The church was extended and repaired in 1844 and further extended and restored in 1894. Built of sandstone mixed with cobbles with extensions of red sandstone all under sandstone slate roofs, apart from the tower, which is leaded. It has a square fortified west tower with extremely thick walls and a fortified nave; there is a north chancel of 1844 at right-angles with vestry on east wall. The tower has original and restored arrow-slit windows. Although in ruins from the Dissolution until 1844, this is still one of the most complete fortified churches in the area. (PastScape)

Shortly after 1303 the monks of Holmcultram erected one of these fortified churches at Newton Arlosh for the protection of their tenants The bishop's licence for the building of the church of Newton Arlosh is dated II April 1304, and runs thus : ' considerantes insuper statum vestrum per hostiles invasiones et depredaciones Scottorum adeo depauperatum quod terras vestras more solito ad commodum vestrum excolere non potestis . . . con- cedimus . . . ut liceat vobis in territorio vestro de Arlosk infra fines vestros predictos unam capellam seu ecclesiam de novo construere pro vestris inquilinis et inhabitantibus infra fines vestros de Holm morantibus . . . Quam capellam seu ecclesiam, cum constructa fuerit, iuxta decenciam, etc. (Harleian MS. 391 1 (Reg. of Holmcultram), ff. 7-8) (VCH)

A church of St. John the Baptist was built at Newton Arlosh in accordance with the bishop's licence of 1304, but the date of its erection—at any rate in the from of which we see its oldest traces —is not necessarily that of the permission to build

Its fortified pele-tower is the remarkable feature, and such towers were not built under Edward I. The fortified tower of Burgh-by-Sands, which most nearly resembles it, and was also built by Holm abbey, can be dated by the notice of 1360, in Bishop Welton's register, of a commission for enquiring into the fall of arches connected with that tower, described as then new (V.C.H. Cumb. i, 257). Indeed in 1304, when Edward I was taking the offensive against Scotland, there was no need for such defences. It was only after the raids culminating in 1322 with Bruce's great invasion that Cumberland awoke to the necessity, and even then showed very tardy activity. Most of the pele-towers date from the time when Edward III had been some time on the throne, and English courage and resources revived. And the confirmation in 1393 by the bishop of Carlisle and by King Richard II of the licence to have a church at Newton Arlosh, quoted below, looks as though it had not been built even at that late date. (Register & Records of Holm Cultram p. 136-)

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 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 ReferenceNY198552
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print


  • Harrison, Peter, 2004, Castles of God (Woodbridge; Boydell Press) p. 67, 68-70 (plan)
  • Brooke, C.J., 2000, Safe Sanctuaries (Edinburgh; John Donald) p. 9-11, 59, 166, 285, 288-292, 295, 315-6, 360-1, 363-4, 367 (plan)
  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 21
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 45
  • Cope, Jean, 1991, Castles in Cumbria (Cicerone Press) p. 94-5
  • Goodman, A., 1989, 'Religion and Warfare in the Anglo-Scottish Marches' in Bartlett, R. and Mackay, A. (eds), Medieval Frontier Societies (Oxford: Oxford University Press) p. 245-66
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 97
  • Hugill, Robert, 1977, Castles and Peles of Cumberland and Westmorland (Newcastle; Frank Graham) p. 151-2
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus, 1967, Buildings of England: Cumberland and Westmorland (Harmondsworth) p. 170-1
  • Grainger, F. and Collingwood, W.G., 1929, The Register and Records of Holm Cultram (Kendal: CWAAS Record Series 8) p. 163 online transcription p. 136- [online transcription >]
  • Curwen, J.F., 1913, Castles and Fortified Towers of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 13) p. 328-31
  • Wilson, James (ed), 1905, VCH Cumberland Vol. 2 p. 257 online copy
  • Lysons, D. and S., 1816, Magna Britannia Vol. 4 Cumberland p. cxci-ii and plates online transcription


  • Curwen, J.F., 1913, 'The fortified Church of St John the Baptist, Newton Arlosh' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 13 p. 113-21 online copy
  • Whiteside, J., 1908, 'Notes on the Chapelry at Helsington' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 8 p. 113-121 online copy
  • Cory, J.A., 1875, 'Notices of certain remarkable Fortified Churches existing in Cumberland' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 2 p. 46-56 online copy (reprint of 1859 article)
  • Cory, J.A., 1859, 'Notices of certain remarkable fortified Churches in Cumberland' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 16 p. 318-25 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Harleian MS. 391 1 (Reg. of Holmcultram), ff. 7-8


  • 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)
  • Keeling, S.M., 1975, Church and Religion in the Anglo-Scottish Border Counties 1534-72 (PhD. Thesis, University of Durham) (available via EThOS)