A Short History of Winster Parish

Incumbents of the parish of Winster over the last 100 years.

NameDate of Institution
William Adamson11-Dec-1856
George Boag11-May-1886
Robert Webstern06-Aug-1901
Edwin Henry Cock, M.A.10-Sep-1907
Arthur Haworth12-Dec-1919
Alfred Ernest Cooper, M.A.10-Nov-1925
Henry Robinson07-Jul-1934
John Henry Hopkinson, M.A.18-Apr-1936
Harold George Mulliner, M.A.04-Oct-1944
Hubert Seed Wilkinson, M.A.26-Mar-1947
John William Adams13-Oct-1948
Arthur Finch, M.A.29-Sep-1964
Thomas Richard Hare, M.A.15-Jun-1969
Walter Frederick Ewbank, M.A., B.D.17-Oct-1971
Kenneth Partington, M.A.19-Dec-1978
William Frederick Greetham15-Sep-1996
Michael Woodcock19-Feb-2006

Since 1978 Winster has been held in plurality, along with three other parishes, by the present Vicar, who lives at Crosthwaite.

A short history of Winster Church was compiled in 1975 for the centenary of this church. Due to the demand of visitors it has been revised and reprinted from the original notes of Margaret Ewbank. (This is largely due to Miss K. Dobie, to whom we owe our thanks).

We are always pleased to welcome visitors to our little church and hope that you will find it a quiet place of prayer and also a link with the past.

Before the Reformation Winster had, probably, an Oratory, that is to say, a place allotted for prayer alone and not for the general celebration of divine service, and was associated with the great monastic house of St. Mary"s at York.

When the first church was built its status was that of a chapel of Kendal Parish and it was only later that Winster became a parish in its own right. The first mention of it as a parish is in an enquiry made at "Kirbie in Kendal" in 1583, and the list of incumbents of the parish dates from 1648.

In 1692 the Reverend Thomas Machell, the celebrated antiquarian visited Winster chapel and reported that it was "in ordinary repair". He goes on to describe the chapel as being "fifteen yards long and eight broad" and as having "one bell in a large square steeple"; which steeple "fell upon a Sunday morning in time of Service", . . . "and some of the stones fell upon Ann Comston (Compston) but she was not harmed". It is interesting that he names the lady upon whom the stones fell, as the original name for Winster Post Office is Compston House which was built in 1600. It is more than probable, therefore, that this was her family home. "This chapelry" Machell says, "extends over the water into some part of Cartmel Fell (which may more truly be called Cartless Fell, for there is not a cart used in this country)". "The chapelry recommends, and the Vicar of Kendal approves the appointment of the chaplain there. The salary is £4 15s of which 12s per annum is in land, 13s per annum in stock, the rest is charged at so much a house, some paying 12s and some 9s according to an ancient book they have amongst them, now in the custody of Richard Grisedal, curate there." Alas, with the passage of time this book, to which Thomas Machell refers, has vanished. The small sketch in the bottom inset on the front cover is adapted from a sketch of the chapel made by Thomas Machell in 1692.

Another written record of the old church comes some two hundred years later. The Reverend A. F. Cooper in 1926 wrote in the Winster Chronicle (the parish magazine) a description of the old church as remembered by some of his parishioners. "It stood between the two yew trees at the north end of the churchyard wall". He comments that "the old church tower must have resembled Cartmel as the upper part of it was octagonal in plan". This differs from Thomas Machell"s descriplion of "a large square steeple". Perhaps the collapse of the Steeple "upon a Sunday in time of Service" may have provoked a steeple of a more robust construction!

The old church must have resembled, in its outward appearance, the old school, to which it stood in close proximity. It is recorded that the church was "whitewashed both inside and out".

The present church, entirely rebuilt on a different site in 1874-75 does however contain relics of the earlier chapel. These include: one bell with the initials R.B.W probably 17th century; a plain octagonal font probably mediaeval; oval plaques inscribed with texts and a pitch-pipe last used by the clerk, Mr Isaac Wilson, Blacksmith, in 1860.

Mr. Cooper records in the Winster Chronicle 1927 an interesting anecdote about the rebuilding of the church. Bishop Harvey Goodwin was staying at Storrs Hall; he walked over to see Mr Adamson, the vicar of Winster, saw the chapel and as it was in such a poor state of repair he strongly advised the building of a new church. Furthermore, he hinted to the vicar that he should make an appeal for help to Mr Stanniforth and the guests at his house. The appeal was entirely successful. In less than two years the new church was built and ready for services to be held. The cost of building was £1,200. The church was consecrated by Bishop Harvey Goodwin on 18 May 1875, and "Mr Adainson had many happy years of service" (1856-1886).

The church was altered in 1929 to accommodate the new organ. This was given by Lady Holt of Blackwell in memory of her husband, Sir Edward Holt, Bart.; and the organ chamber built to house it by friends and parishioners. The organ chamber corresponds almost exactly with the vestry forming a North transept. The dedication was held on 27 February 1930. A detailed specification of the organ can be found here.

Points of Interest:

  1. A date-stone with the date 1875, carved by Mr. Geoffrey Law of Birch Mill, Crook, placed above the porch commemorates the centenary of the present church.
  2. A patchwork hanging made by the Carmelite nuns of Presteigne, Radnorshire was presented to the Church by Mrs. J. Evan Thomas.
  3. Two Brass Altar Vases were given by parishioners in memory of Ethel Maud Limb who, as well as being Church warden of Winster Church from 1935-1960 had been headmistress of Winster School for 24 years, 1920-1944.
  4. The Mothers" Union banner was embroidered by Mrs. Finch, whose husband was Vicar of Winster from 1964-1968.
  5. The stained glass window on the South side of the church was designed by Professor Evetts. It depicts St. Kentigern, who is reputed to have passed down the Winster Valley. It was dedicated by Archdeacon Hopkinson in 1941 in memory of the Garnett family who lived in Winster and at Ninevah for many years.
  6. A plaque on the North Wall, erected by the Governors of Blackwell School, commemorates the association of the School with the Church from 1940-1976. The regular attendance of the girls was a delightful feature of the Sunday morning services during term-time.
  7. In response to a diocesan-wide initiative led by the Bishop of Carlisle in 1993, parishioners created the lovely Winster Tapestry, now hanging on the South Wall. A card which explains the Tapestry can be found on the table near the entrance to the Church.
  8. A small brass plaque above the organ commemorates Mrs Edna Dickinson, who was the organist here for no less than 53 years, a wonderful length of service to this Church. Also an engraved communion cruet set was donated by the F.C.C. in loving memory of Edna.
  9. In 1993 Miss K. Murphy"s chair from the Hayton College Chapel was presented to Winster Church by Norah Whittaker née Leigh.
  10. In 1990 a white altar frontal designed and embroidered by Mrs Mary Hardman was presented to the Church in memory of her husband.
  11. In 1995 Mrs Poole Presented an antique carved monks chair to the church in memory of her husband Harry.