Finding the Nine Kirks
Living in a new place means exploring new routes. I miss the river, but the same river runs near where I live now and there are beautiful walks along its banks. A place I've always wanted to go to, but somehow never did, is Nine Kirks. So, recently, I went walking with Neil in search of this isolated ancient chapel standing on the flood plain of the river, in the middle of nowhere. The setting is incredibly beautiful on an early spring day with the wind blowing the clouds overhead and daffodils just springing up in the hedgerows. As you walk, the Lake District fells rise on one side and the Pennines on the other.
The chapel stands alone in a flood meadow surrounded on 3 sides by a gigantic meander of the river Eamont, just before it joins the Eden at Watersmeet. It seems a strange place to build a place of worship - so difficult to get to and so far from any habitation. But that's only until you realise that this flood plain was once a thriving community of farmers. The village was razed to the ground, and the inhabitants evicted, by a local Earl so that he could use the land for hunting, fishing and shooting. Things don't change much!
|Empty land where the village and the farms should have been.|
The small graveyard surrounding the chapel contains graves going back to the 17th century and has a ruined outbuilding containing hitching rings for the horses that used to bring the congregation to services. Inside, there are oak pews and wonderful carvings.
|The oak pews|
|the wonderfully carved Priest's door, saved from the medieval church.|
At the back there's also a medieval vestment chest, too large and heavy to move.
The simple altar has a carved board with the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments and the Creed on it, so that the congregation could read it without having to have prayer books.
Only one stained glass window remains, with the inscription, 'Jesus Wept', which made me laugh, because it was my grandmother's favourite expletive when anything went wrong. Other people might swear, but my grandmother said 'Jesus Wept!!'
It has the atmosphere of an ancient place - peaceful and full of history. Even an atheist can feel the spirituality that lingers there. And there are so many stories - I can feel my fingers itching to get out the pen!