Christ Church


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Christ Church, King Street, Maryport, Cumbria, CA15 6AJ


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Statutory Address:
Christ Church, King Street, Maryport, Cumbria, CA15 6AJ

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Allerdale (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Anglican church, 1872 to designs of Charles Eaglesfield. Early English style.

Reasons for Designation

Christ Church, of 1872, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* constructed in good quality local materials, it is well-composed with an apsidal east end and prominent west tower with broach spire; * a simple interior that retains structural detail including the collar-tie-truss roof structure, arcade and shafted windows; * it is carefully massed to make the most of its harbourside location which it dominates, and where it forms a striking land and seamark.

Historic interest:

* for its close association with the national figure L S Lowry, in whose work the church features prominently.

Group value:

* it benefits from a spatial group value with numerous listed buildings on North and South Quay including quayside offices and other harbour buildings.


The new town and harbour of Maryport was founded in the mid-C18, and has been a port in its own right since 1838, based mainly on shipbuilding and coal export. As the harbour area developed, the population grew, augmented by large numbers of sailors from the hundreds of vessels that might occupy the harbour at any one time. A new church was therefore proposed in 1832 but was unrealised, and was proposed again in 1862 by Robert Adair. Finally in 1872 Christ Church was constructed on a harbourside site in an area popular with itinerant preachers. It was designed by Charles Eaglesfield of Maryport, a prolific designer responsible for many of the churches and chapels in West Cumbria. Mr Marshall was the contractor, joinery was by Mr Dent from Cockermouth, slating by Mandle of Maryport, glazing and plumbing by Piele from Workington and the plastering by Johnston of Carlisle. The laying of the foundation stone, by Mrs Senhouse who had gifted the land, planned for the first of January 1872 was delayed to the following day by a storm; a box was placed beneath it containing coins, local newspapers, a New Testament and a short statement of the history of the work. The church was opened on 12 December 1872 by the Bishop of Carlisle, who compared Maryport to Joppa, rejoiced that it was similarly situated and could not conceive of a greater blessing to Maryport.

The church was originally referred to as The New Church, The Free Church and the Mission Church but by 1879 it was referred to as Christ Church. The spire was completed in 1874 and the clock was installed by 1879, the latter donated by Mr T H Ismay (formerly of Maryport) founder of the White Star Line. A secondary source describes the clock being visible across the harbour and reports it acting as a welcoming beacon for sailors. In 1881 an organ of 1832 by the highly regarded firm Elliot and Hill was installed by Nicholson of Newcastle (now removed). The church interior was completed in 1893 at a cost of £600, and included enriching the window and inserting memorial stained glass by Heaton, Butler & Bayne to one of the church founders. A new vestry was added at the same time and the old one was converted to a coal cellar.

In the mid-C20 Christ Church featured in a number of paintings by the nationally-important artist L S Lowry (1887-1976) including the tip of the spire in 'Maryport' (1960), a pencil drawing of Christ Church 'The Church on the Quay, Maryport' (1959) and his similar 'On the Quay' (1954). It also features prominently in the work of Sheila Fell (1931-1979) a well-regarded locally born and London-based artist. Her painting 'Maryport' (1965) featuring Christ Church was purchased by the Tate Gallery. Her first London exhibition brought her to the attention of L S Lowry, who bought some of her work and the pair struck up a long-lasting friendship. The church remains a prominent feature of Maryport harbour, and its maritime connections are emphasised by the fact that its spire is depicted on the UK Hydrographic Chart (number 1826) as a seamark, plotted as an aid to navigation. It is reported that the church is known locally as Sailors’ or Mariners’ Church.


Anglican church, 1872 to designs of Charles Eaglesfield. Early English style.

MATERIALS: rusticated local red sandstone with ashlar dressings; pitched and pyramidal roofs of alternating fish-scale and plain Welsh slate.

PLAN: the church is oriented roughly north to south, but the following description follows conventional liturgical orientation. It has a nave with an apsidal chancel, south aisle, west tower and spire, and a north-east vestry.

EXTERIOR: the church is situated in a prominent location on the harbourside, with its liturgical west end facing the harbour. There are moulded eaves cornices and a coped plinth to the nave, south aisle and the west end, and the tower stages are separated by ashlar bands. Roofs have decorative terracotta ridge tiles and finials.

The chancel has a semi-circular apse pierced by six lancets, and a semi-pyramidal roof. The north wall of the nave has three plate-tracery windows, one single and two paired lancets, and the chancel is obscured by a double-height vestry with a lean-to roof. The south aisle comprises a full-height gabled end bay with a three-light plate-tracery window pierced with foils, and two sets of paired lancets to the left. The three-stage west tower contains the south entrance which is designed to resemble a tall plate-tracery window with a moulded surround terminating in head stops. It has a circular motif to the apex, containing a recessed blind quatrefoil, and paired shoulder-arched doorways below. There is a single lancet to the ground floor west face; all faces of the first stage have a band of three circular windows described in Pevsner as ‘port-holes’, and all faces of the second stage have paired louvered belfry windows. The broach spire has a clock face to each of the four sides, set within gabled frames, and terminates in a cross finial. The gabled west end of the nave has a triple-stepped lancet window, with a circular opening containing a cinquefoil window to the apex and a cross finial to the ridge.

INTERIOR: the trusses of the collar-tie-truss roof structure with exposed purlins and rafters are carried down to stone corbels. The lower walls of the sanctuary are panelled and there is a timber reredos; the six lancets above have short shafts, moulded heads and jambs and are linked by a continuous hood mould. They are fitted with late-C19 stained glass. The pointed-arched arcade forming the south aisle is carried on squat circular columns with moulded capitals. Shoulder-arched openings lead from the sanctuary to the vestry and from the south aisle to a side entrance. There is a moulded band to the nave and the windows have label-moulds. In the belfry, the flatbed clock sits within its frame and retains the original wheel and stay for ringing. It has the name 'Wilson, Maryport' on the small dial; the steel bell is made by the firm of Vickers in Sheffield, and part of the company inscription ‘S LIMITED’ is visible.


Books and journals
Pevsner, N, Hyde, M, The Buildings of England: Cumbria, (2010), 514
MARYPORT'S FREE CHURCH - CHRIST CHURCH ON THE HARBOUR, author unknown, accessed 12 June 2020 from
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry for Lowry, Laurence Stephen, Mervyn Levy, revised by Julian Spalding, accessed 16 June 2020 from
Chart Number 1826: Irish Sea Eastern Part, UK Hydrological Office. 2010


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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