Lancashire

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A C12 church on the edge ofMorecambe Bay

Aldingham St Cuthbert'sis an interesting buildingin a wonderful setting. Its embattled churchyard wall falls directly to apebbly beach, and the churchlooks out overthe waters of Morecambe Bay.

In the Domesday survey of 1086 Aldingham's lord of the manor is recorded as the Saxon, Ernulf. Ownership then passed through the hands of Roger de Poitou, Henry II andWilliam le Fleming. In 1180 Michael le Fleming's son Danielis recorded as the first rector of Aldingham. The oldest parts of the present church date from this time.

The style of the south arcade - rounded arches with a single step and chamfer, round andoctagonal piers, abasic waterleaf capital - all suggest a date at the end of theC12. At the east end of the south aisle isa squint. A20-scalloped font bowl is thought to date from the C12(though its base is modern).

The chancel dates from about one hundred years later. The arch is supported on head-stops: one female, one male, possibly depictions of a bride and groom. The east window has stepped lancets, each cusped. At the east wall, by the altar, is a small "leper hole". This allowed lepers outside the building to receive communion bread only on a long handled wooden shovel - the priest would drink the wine! In the south wall is a two-light window with quatrefoil, cusped heads and a transom, as well as a priests door with a trefoiledhead. The chancel walls are of rough stone with dressed stone around the openings.

The north aisle is the newest part of the church. It was added in 1845-6. The arcade is columns are octagonal with heavily undercut capitals.

The west tower was built in about 1350. It has diagonal buttresses and two-light bell openings. The west window, battlements and pinnacles were added in the C15. The tower holds three bells. The original single bell was recast by Abraham Rudall of kendal in 1711. The other two bells were acquired in 1550, possibly after the Dissolution, and may have originated from either Furness Abbey or Conishead Priory (both nearby). One is inscribed in Latin "Christ, King of Heaven, may this sound please thee". The other has a triple "S".

The glass of the east window is dated 1964 and wasdesigned by Harcourt Doyle (see Gressingham). It shows Christ in a central mandorla with angels, inscribed scrolls and the Holy Ghost are above: below is the seashore with local birds, and left and right Adam and Eve toiling, and a fisherman and a farm worker.

The chancel

The trefoil-headed priest's door isbetween a window of c.1300 and one of the C17.

C17 window

This chancel window, unusually, has columns as the mullions.

Chancel Window

The window is probably C14. It has been suggested that it comes from Furness Abbey.

Early English Capital

The western column of the Early English south arcade is the only one with simple waterleaf capitals.

Chancel arch from the east

The chamfered arch is supported on carved head stops.

Photographs and text Tony Boughen