Heysham Parish Church and St Patrick’s Chapel

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Eight or nine years ago Bradford University ArcSoc was planning a trip to Morecambe & Heysham, Lancs. In the end it did not take place and I believe we visited Ribchester in its place. Since that time I’ve always wanted to visit the Heysham parish church site which is unique. Today, after a lunch of warm Morecambe Bay shrimps on toast (to strengthen the inner man), my ambition was fulfilled.

The parish church of St Peter’s is a grade 1 listed building made of sandstone rubble and stone ‘slates’. There was believed to have been a Saxon church on this site. The first two images are of an unquestionably Saxon window, and a blocked Saxon door below a Victorian window. The overall view of the church shows a mix of early and late medieval work with Victorian renovation.

A few tens of metres from the parish church, on a prominent headland, is the ruined chapel of St Patrick. This is also Grade 1 listed and a scheduled ancient monument. The visible doorway has Saxon long and short jambs and presumably, like the church, the chapel was a Saxon foundation. Close to it are two sets of rare, rock-cut, tombs. One theory is that the tombs are older than the chapel and that the first was the resting place of someone notable for sanctity. Consequently the occupants of other tombs were sited in places of honour, and the chapel was then constructed as a private chapel for some wealthy landowner. A plausible but ultimately unprovable theory. Anyway, if you ever have the opportunity, do take a look.

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