Every sheep farmer in the Bewcastle area is being asked to donate the price of a lamb as part of an innovative approach to the fundraising effort Bewcastle Church is using to raise money for urgent repairs.
The story starts with this quote – “If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb”, from In the bleak midwinter, a famous Christmas carol
There must be tens of thousands of lambs in Bewcastle! This year’s lamb sales have started. Prices are good this year. If every farm who sells lambs from now till Christmas donated just the price of one lamb to Bishop John’s idea the Bewcastle church repairs would be well funded. So far every farmer we have approached has volunteered at least one lamb. We have a JustGiving.com page called Bewcastle Church.
A list of everyone who donates will be posted on the Bewcastle.com website and on the Bewcastle Crack Facebook page as acknowledgement of our thanks and gratitude.
Retired bishop, John Richardson, who lives in the community, is leading the initiative; here’s what he says,
“Here for 1,200 years faith and community have overlapped and entwined, as the Bewcastle Cross and tiny museum remind us. Within its walls generations have met to mark great occasions of family, community or national life – a wedding, a birth, a funeral, or special festivals like Christmas, Easter, Harvest and Remembrance, a Coronation, the outbreak or cessation of war. Loved ones have been laid to rest in the churchyard. Sunday by Sunday worship has taken place within it. It’s a heritage which has been entrusted to us, which we in our turn not only treasure but want to pass on to those coming after us.
But we are going to need help. Recent adverse weather has taken its toll, so the roof and guttering are in urgent need of repair. The hard reality is that we need to find some £30,000 to put things right this year.
We have secured enthusiastic support from a broad range of people who know us and understand what we do, some are prominent figures in the county while others are central to the local community. Among the former are Lord and Lady Henley of Scaleby Castle; Claire Hensman, Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria; James Newcombe, Bishop of Carlisle; Dr. Eleri Cousins- archaeologist and lecturer at the University of Lancaster about to begin new explorations in Bewcastle; the Rev Philip Greenhalgh, our previous and much loved rector; Dick Davidson OBE (aka Dick the Post) church reader and postie in our parish for 40 years; Mike Jackson who documented so much of our local history, researched every family and recorded every tombstone in the churchyard; Garry Phillips, Bewcastle’s garage man, who helps to keep many of our tractors and cars on the road; Barbara Smith, everyone’s friend and chair of our local council, heritage society and so much more; and Frank Waugh, an octogenarian, resident of Kilnstown, whose family have farmed round here for 200 years and who has been a church warden for almost that long!”
Bewcastle in North Cumbria is an isolated village steeped in Roman and Border history. The church, farm, and castle occupy the site of a Roman out post fort which guarded the Maiden Way, the main Roman road north from Birdoswald on Hadrian’s Wall some 10km (6 miles) to the south.
The fort was dedicated to a local deity, Cocidius, and is unusual in having six sides, rather than the more usual rectangle or square. The fort was probably built around 122AD and occupied until AD 343. Bewcastle Cross is said to be the finest Anglican Cross in Europe. Dating from the 7th century, it is dedicated to Alcfrith, son of Oswiu,King of Northumberland who ruled from 641 – 670 AD
The stone castle was constructed between 1340 and 1360 using much material from the old Roman fort. During the 15th and 16th century it provided sanctuary for locals during Scottish raids. This area was much fought over by the Border Reivers; feuding, lawless, local families who raided each others farms taking livestock, goods, and possessions.
To protect themselves families built peel towers and Bastle houses. The old reiver family names survive today: Armstrong, Graham, Elliot, Musgrave and Nixon.Click here to visit the Bewcastle Museum