Benedictines At Warwick Bridge

Benedictines at Warwick Bridge


In the 17th & early 18 Centuries local Catholic families were served by  Benedictine priests who acted as chaplains at Warwick Hall and Corby castles.  Fr. Thomas Basil Warwick, professed in 1698, was stationed at the Warwick Hall some time before 1729, and on his memorial roundel in the Church can be seen the name of Francis Warwick of Warwick Hall, who founded and endowed this Mission, he died in 1772.



In the year 1774 Warwick Hall passed out of the possession of Catholic hands, and Fr. A. Kaye, then living at the Hall, built the old chapel with the presbytery at Warwick Bridge.  The building is  the long cottage, situated on the opposite corner of the road to the Burnrigg, nearby the present, church, and now known as Howard Cottage.  The  Howard family’s coat of arms  is displayed on the side wall. The chapel was demolished when the new Church was built. Miss Anne Warwick came to reside at the presbytery during the time of Fr. Kaye, and at her death left the sum of £ 800 towards the Mission.  Fr. Anselm Bolas was also at the church until he died in the year 1797.  Both Fr. Kaye and Fr. Bolas lie buried at the old Warwick on Eden church cemetery  – a stone marks their last resting place.    There is a  rebus carved in the stone of the outer chancel wall to commemorate a Prior Thornton of the priory – it can be seen as a thorn tree growing out of a tun.  (barrel)

          At this time there was no Catholic Church or even a chapel in Carlisle and the baptism, marriage and death of the Carlisle Catholics are recorded in the Warwick Bridge registers from 1765.  Earlier ones have been lost. However the tombstones of Fr. Ambrose Kaye (+1777) and Fr. Anselm Bolas (+1797) are in the graveyard of St. Leonard’s Church at Warwick on Eden.


          During the years 1838 Fr. Wilfrid Ryan succeeded as priest in charge of the little chapel at Warwick Bridge he remained there for nearly forty years.  He was responsible for the building of our present Church. Land had been purchased during the time of Fr. Anselm Bolas and again in 1802 Fr. B. Ryding had purchased more land but the property had fallen into a state of dilapidation.  When Fr. Ryan was appointed as incumbent he saw a great opportunity of making good use of the situation and he obtain the consent of the Benedictine Provincial, Fr.  Brewers to sell this property to Mr.Henry Howard (1757-1842) of Corby, holding in reserve for himself and his successors five acres of land.  It was upon this land that the present Church was build. Henry Howard succeeded in securing the services of Augustus Welby Pugin.

          “He erected a good house and an elegant little chapel at the cost of £2,586.  Notwithstanding this outlay he contrived by his good management to accomplish the whole and leave the income of the place greater than it was when he first entered upon his arduous undertaking.”  (copied from a  memorandum by Fr. Barnes).

Fr. Ryan died in 1877 and is the first priest to be buried in the  cemetery  at Our Lady’s and St Wilfrid’s, Warwick Bridge.



          The parish stretches from the Scotby Road in the West to Gilsland in the East, and from Kershope Foot in the North to Armathwaite in the South (Carlisle -Leeds railway line).  Pugin provided a two stalled stable and coach house for the priest, but there are no records of horses in them. Fr. Barnett (retired 1918) is remembered as hiring or borrowing a pony to ride out occasionally. As early as 1893 once a month a waggonette went to Brampton for the few Catholics there. Later this became a weekly visit and when the rocket station at Spadeadam was developed a larger Catholic population led to the purchase of Ashmore where the chapel was opened in 1957

At one time a wooden reredos, was erected to  the memory of Mr. W. Lamb of Hayton, was in place in this Church.  It has since been removed and the present reredos, the original design, is now in position.  The wooden one is used in the lovely little chapel at Brampton.