There has been continuous Christian worship in Dacre since the 7th century, where its beautiful ancient church is well worth a visit. Bede recorded ‘The Miracle of Dacre’ at the monastery there in 687.
The monastery also featured in the Peace of Dacre in 927 when Athelstan (First King of all England) met with the northern kings. It was replaced with a Saxon church in the 10th century, which was remodelled in the Norman style in the 12th century. The side aisles were added in the 13th and 14th centuries. The church you see at Dacre today is largely as it was in the 14th century.
Fascinating artefacts include two carved fragments of 9th and 10th century stone crosses, the Crusader stone knight and a lock dated 1671, given to the church by Lady Anne Clifford. It has several interesting window,s including one in colourful stained glass window dedicated to Viscount William Whitelaw, former Deputy Prime Minister, and an etched window in memory of Sylvia Mary Hasell-McCosh, created by Laurence Whistler. The church is home also to the four Dacre Bears: stone statues that are, at least, mediaeval and unique to Dacre. Their origin is a mystery, but come and see what you think about the story they tell.
Everyone is very welcome to the 9.30am service every Sunday morning and guided tours for groups can be arranged by appointment. For further information see www.dacrechurch.com
If Steve Huddart’s article about St Andrew’s church in Dacre has whetted your appetite to explore the village, then you will find that Dacre would come well down any list of Lakeland’s most visited villages.
This is because, in the words of author Jim Watson, “it is on the road to nowhere.” That, however, is its strength. Although close to Pooley Bridge, it is unspoiled by traffic and commercialisation. Nevertheless, Dacre boasts its own inn, The Horse and Farrier, and is (or at least was) defended by a small castle – a pele tower. Border conflict in the 14th century meant that rich Cumbrian manors were vulnerable to being plundered by marauding Scottish raiders. The Eden valley is sprinkled with fortified towers to protect people and stock. Although not open to the public, Dacre Castle is a fine example of a pele tower that has not fallen into ruin.