Ormside Church of St James

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Ecclesiastical site

There are major building remains

NameOrmside Church of St James
Alternative NamesOrmshed
Historic CountryWestmorland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishOrmside

Parish church, dating from the late C11 with later alterations and additions. Coursed, squared rubble has been used in earlier parts and snecked rubble for later work. The nave and lower chancel roofs are graduated slate on the south side and stone flagged on the north, with stone copings and C19 apex crosses. The tower roof is gabled and the vestry outshut is of graduated slate. The tower is clearly defensible, and was built in C13. (PastScape)

Parish Church of St. James (Plate 146) stands on a knoll or mound at the N. end of the parish. The walls are of sandstone rubble and of water-worn stones in the oldest part of the building; the dressings are also of sandstone and the roofs are slate-covered. The Nave with a small square Chancel was built probably late in the 11th century and to this a N. aisle was added about the middle of the 12th century; soon after the W. wall was taken down and a new W. front built to carry a bell-cote, immediately to the W. of it. The West Tower was added c. 1200 and about the same time the chancel was lengthened about 8 or 9 ft. to the E. The chancel was largely re-built, lengthened and widened towards the S. late in the 15th or early in the 16th century. A S. porch was added in the 16th or 17th century. The Hilton Chapel was built in 1723 partly on the site of the former aisle. The church was restored in the 19th century when the South Porch was taken down and reconstructed farther W., the chapel-arch re-built and the North Vestry added on the site of an earlier building.

The church has interesting early features and the mediƦval bells are noteworthy. In the churchyard was found the late 7th-century Ormside bowl now in the Yorks. Phil. Soc.'s Museum. More recently, Viking remains have also been found in the churchyard. (RCHME 1936)

Gatehouse Comments

See also Ormside Ringwork. Did the church tower start out as a 'lordship tower' for a manorial centre?

- Philip Davis

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 ReferenceNY701176
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Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved

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  • Harrison, Peter, 2004, Castles of God (Woodbridge; Boydell Press) p. 67
  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 299 (plan)
  • RCHME, 1936, An inventory of the historical monuments in Westmorland (HMSO) p. 185 no. 1 plan [online transcription > http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=120799]
  • Curwen, J.F., 1932, 'Parishes (East Ward): St James, Ormside' The Later Records relating to North Westmorland: or the Barony of Appleby p. 189-94 online transcription


  • 1933, 'Proceedings ' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 33 p. 296-7 online copy
  • Brunskill, J., 1901, 'Ormshed and its church' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 1 p. 155-66 online copy
  • 1898-9, 'Various finds in Ormside Churchyard' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 15 p. 377-80 online copy