St Michael's Church, Shap (NY 564 154)
This ancient church can trace its origins back to Celtic times, though the present structure dates from 1140. Its earliest features are the fine Norman tower, the north-facing windows and the internal pillars. A large font made of polished Shap granite presides over the nave, while the beautiful Millennium window depicts features from the parish such as the Goggleby Stone, Keld Chapel and Shap Abbey. Outside, a poignant gravestone commemorates the workmen who lost their lives during construction of the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway (completed in 1846).
Shap Abbey (NY 548 152)
In 1199 a group of Premonstratian monks from Preston Patrick chose an isolated location on the banks of the River Lowther to found an abbey. The abbey prospered for around 300 years until the Dissolution of the Monasteries when the lead was taken from the roof and the building stones carted away for re-use elsewhere. All that remains today is the priory tower, still at its full height, and the outline of various buildings associated with the monastery. Open all year. Free admission.
Keld Chapel, Shap (NY 553 145)
It is thought that this simple chapel was used as a chantry by the monks of Shap Abbey, a place where prayers were said for the souls of the dead. With its bare walls, uneven stone floor and rustic pews, it is one of the few pre-Reformation chapels in the country and daties from the late 15th century. In its time it has been used as a cottage, a meeting place for various religious sects and as a lodging house for navvies working on the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway. The chapel is now in the care of the National Trust and is open during daylight hours.
Lowther Castle (NY 523 238)
Estate Office, Lowther, Penrith, CA10 2HG
Tel: 01931 712577
The battered remains of this once majestic mansion stand forlornly in open parkland; its former gardens now a mass of broken-up concrete and weeds but plans are underway to restore the gardens to their former glory and create an art gallery and exhibition space within the former stable block.
St Michael's Church, Lowther (NY 519 245)
High on a ridge overlooking the River Lowther is this ancient church dedicated to St Michael which may well pre-date Norman times. Several Norse hogback tombstones and the remains of a stone cross were discovered in the churchyard, now on display in the porch. Apart from these early relics, the church is filled with many ostentatious memorials to the Lowther family. A giant mausoleum to William, Earl of Lonsdale (1757-1844) dominates the churchyard, whilst other family gravestones can be seen nearby
St Patrick's Church, Bampton (NY 521 180)
Although the church was erected in 1726 there has been a church on this site for over 800 years. The appealing interior has elegant timber arcades and an early 12th century font, the date of 1662 was carved later. The Parish Hall next door houses a rare collection of books written in Latin (Tinclar Library). The library is open on the first Monday of every month and at other times by appointment (tel: 01931 713262).