781/1/43 CHURCH STREET
10-DEC-09 CHURCH OF ST MARY
Anglican church. Original 1848 chapel with aisles added by J.S. Crowther, 1850s; major remodelling undertaken by Paley & Austin 1881-82; roofs renewed after fire 1988; re-ordered 2004-05.
MATERIALS: Slatestone with sandstone dressings and slate roofs.
PLAN: rectangular with nave, chancel, north and south aisles, north and south transepts, choir vestry and vestry, north and south porches and a tower above the crossing.
EXTERIOR: The church has a five-light Decorated style east window with tracery. Beneath the window there are two chamfered string courses with a blind window with slate surround between them. The east gable is topped with a small stone cross. The string courses are carried around the north and south returns of the chancel. A large tower of three stages with a projecting rectangular south east stair turret terminating above the level of the tower rises above the crossing. The tower's lower stage has buttresses with set-offs flush with the east and west faces and pairs of two-light transomed north and south windows lighting the crossing. The mid-stage has north and east facing lozenge-shaped frames to its clock faces and two round-arched lancet windows to its east and west faces. The upper stage has two-light belfry windows flanked by blind arches and is topped by a parapet decorated with a quatrefoil frieze. The buttressed north aisle has two-light Geometric Decorated style windows and a gabled porch with an outer doorway with nook shafts. The north transept has a three-light intersecting traceried window with a small cross to the top of the gable. Adjacent is a single-storey apsidal vestry with ogee-headed door and window surrounds. The south aisle has a mix of lancet and plate-traceried windows with a gabled porch. The porch has roof slates cut honeycomb style and a recessed outer door in a splayed doorway. The south transept has blind arcading containing four small round-headed slit windows. The west elevation has three buttressed gables each topped by small stone crosses. The west window is of four lights with decorated tracery and there are two-light windows with decorated tracery to the adjacent aisles.
INTERIOR: The chancel has a moulded arch on short clustered columns with bell capitals on corbels. The stained glass east window is by Burlisson and Grylls. The chancel's south wall has blind ogee-arched windows and the roof is a boarded painted wagon roof divided into panels by moulded ribs. The western arch into the crossing fades into the responds and there is a flat-panelled timber roof to the crossing. There are two-bay arcades into the transepts with tall parclosed screens. Both transepts have been reordered; that to the south has a parclosed screen to the south aisle, that to the north has been subdivided to provide storeroom and toilet facilities. The south and north arcades are of seven bays, those to the south have round arches on moulded capitals, those to the north have pointed arches on moulded capitals of a different design. The nave has a canted and boarded roof with roof lights (roofs to nave and aisles renewed after a fire of 1988). Both aisles have been reordered and are separated from the nave by modern glass partitioning. The south aisle contains a kitchen, a separate meeting room and a WC, the north aisle contains the parish office and reception, a draught lobby and a lounge area. A choir vestry, vestry, boiler room and staircase to a first floor meeting room are accessed off the north transept. The choir stalls have poppyhead finials and pierced friezes to the back of the seats and to the frontals. A polygonal timber pulpit matches the choirstalls and has a frieze of pierced tracery beneath a miniature wooden balustrade below the cornice. The font has a square bowl on an octagonal stem with black marble corner shafts. The bowl is decorated with stiff-leaf carving.
HISTORY: St Mary's was originally constructed as a chapel in 1848. Subsequent rebuilding and enlargement means that little now remains of this chapel. A south aisle was added in 1852, and an 1857 north aisle; both were designed by J.S.Crowther. A western extension was added to the nave in 1861, and a north transept (also by Crowther in 1871). The biggest single phase was the building of the chancel, tower and the west end of the building, built to a design by the well-respected Lancaster-based architects Paley & Austin in 1881-2. Edward Paley (1823-95) and Hubert Austin (1841-1915) formed a noted northern architectural practice from Lancaster, specialising in church work. Internal aterations (involving the removal of an alabaster reredos) took place in 1945. In 1988, following a serious fire, the church was re-roofed and refurbished (Michael Bottomley of Kendal, architect)and rededicated in 1990. The interior of the church was re-ordered in 2004 (by Paul Grout Architects), with the re-design of the chancel, the installation of multi-purpose rooms in the south aisle, the replacement of pews, etc.
SOURCES: Nicholas Pevsner, Buildings of England: Cumberland & Westmorland, 1967, p.297; Paul Grout, 'Re-ordering of a Well Known Local Church', Church Building 100 (July-Aug 2006), 44-47.
REASONS FOR DECISION: St Mary's Church, Windermere, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* It is a good example of a church designed by Crowther with later additions by the prominent Lancaster-based architectural firm of Paley & Austin
* The church is a major townscape feature and is prominently situated beside the main north-south trunk road through the central Lake District
* The church's large size in comparison to its predecessor clearly reflects the increased visitor numbers and social changes brought about by the coming of the railways to the Lake District and Windermere in particular in the mid-C19.