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An interesting time to visit Cartmel Priory in the English Lake District

Cartmel Priory on the southern fringe of the English Lake District and the northern shore of the notoriously treacherous sands of Morecambe Bay is currently undergoing some of the greatest restoration work since its foundation in 1188, making it a fascinating time to go and visit. In order to preserve this magnificent national treasure for future generations, initially the roof was to be re-slated but during the early stages of the work it became evident that there were signs of damage to some of the timbers. Cartmel Priory Originally it was thought that five of the beams needed replacement but that figure has now risen to twenty-one. Consequently the Priory now boasts what could be described as one of the most spectacular pieces of modern art using scaffolding, but this has not deterred the use of the building either for worship as witnessed by the regular increasing congregations and also the hundreds of those attending services over the Christmas period or the thousands of visitors who visit this sacred and special place. Now many of the beams have been removed it is probable that the trees were acorns germinated in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, possibly before the Spanish Armada. Early indications show a pattern of growth rings suggesting a recorded known period of warm wet summers, good for trees and lethal for peasant farmers in the decade before they were felled. This combined with local records of successful and unsuccessful farming at the time means that some of the timbers can be dated. The Diocesan archaeologist is being consulted and more information will emerge shortly. The outside scaffolding that was erected for the original work was in place in June 2013 with the work expected to be completed by September. With the increased work however the external supports have had to be reinforced with a “roof” of its own and the work is now due to be finished in May 2014. “Come and See” is an invitation to all. It is a fascinating time in the life of this ancient treasure and an interesting time to pay a visit.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. It will be interesting to see what it looks like when finished, will the scaffolding stay or are they replacing the wooden beams with new woods? Sounds like a massive project. I remember all sorts of school trips to do brass rubbings, but seeing restoration in action would certainly have been more interesting!

  2. Hi Anna… it is a huge project. The wooden beams are being replaced and the scaffolding will be removed once the work has been completed. Although the work is much-needed, I imagine everything will look much the same to the casual observer once completed.

  3. It does sound a very interesting time to visit, although I’d probably prefer to photograph it once the work is done and the scaffolding removed. I’ve never visited this part of England so a visit is long overdue!

  4. Fascinating story and history, it will be huge project and stunning to view when the scaffolding is removed!

  5. Looks beautiful. I’ve always wanted to visit the Lake District. Good to know if I make it there to visit Cartmel Priory too.

  6. Looks absolutely stunning! Can’t wait to see what this looks like when it’s done! Wow! Can’t wait to see the unveiling. Very interesting.

  7. Well, another place to add to my list of places to go next time I go to the UK. By that time, the renovations will probably be finished.

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