Photos by W. Bernard Bland


The Church was built in 1856 by James Dawson, a retired surgeon from Liverpool, who had built Wray Castle and intended the Church as a chapel ‘for the spiritual benefit of his ‘ family, retainers, estate workers, servants and friends’. In 1861 it was consecrated by the Bishop of Carlisle and had parochial boundaries assigned to it. The marble memorial on the south wall commemorates James Dawson and his wife, Margaret.(Is this is why the church is dedicated to St. Margaret of Antioch?)
The Dawson Tomb is on the north side of the churchyard. The windows on the south side, near the pulpit, are probably Flemish and commemorate
Dr Whittaker, a former Vicar of Blackburn, and his daughter, Mary, wife of William Feilden of Feniscowles. The Whittaker home was Belmount, near Hawkshead.

The south-west windows, near the font, records a rural tragedy at a time when there was no defence against infectious disease, and is known as the ‘The Children’s Window’. The memorial brass, near the priests desk, recalls one of the many tragedies on Lake Windermere. The verse is thought to be by Cannon H. D. Rawnsley. The most famous Incumbent (1778 -1882) is Hardwick Drummond Rawnsley, who wrote a considerable amount of poetry, the Biography of Bishop Goodwin, and a series of books on the Lake District. He strenuously opposed any desecration of it’s beauties, particularly by the extension of the railways, and was one of the three founders of the National Trust. He subsequently became Canon of Carlisle Cathedral and Chaplin to King George V. In his time, a frequent visitor to Wray Castle was Beatrix Potter, whom he encouraged to draw and write, and who, as Mrs Heelis, became a great benefactor to the local National Trust.

The longest serving and last Vicar (1895-1925 ) was the Rev’d. H. H. Kemble, who was a skilled photographer, and a collection of his slides shows many aspects of rural life before 1914. He was District Commissioner and Camp Adviser of the Scouts for many years and, through his influence, Wray Castle became one of the earliest official Scout Camp sites. The memorials on the north wall commemorate victims of the First World War, who were sons of the big houses around the Lake that the Church had been built to serve; gradually the resident population shrank as the houses schools, guest houses and holiday flats.

There is no longer a Post Office or shop in High Wray and the village School, which closed in 1931, is now High Wray Village Hall; Wray Castle is owned by the National Trust and is used as a privately run Administrative Training Collage, although the grounds are open to the public. In 1954 St. Margaret’s became a Chapel-of -Ease of Hawkshead Parish. Holy Communion is celebrated here on the first Sunday of each month and special services are held at Easter, Harvest and Christmas.

This small Church is more than a reminder of the past Victorian and Edwardian glories; it is a reminder that, when all else changes, man still needs to step aside from the busy world to pause and think upon the things that are Eternal. This is a revised version of that written by the Rev’d. J. P. Inman in 1983.

By kind permission of the Rev’d. Pye.

Just some of those who died from infectious disease

EMILY DECLON Wray buried 04-09-1888 aged 10 years Died of diptheria
ALFRED WILBERFORCE WEEDON The Wray buried 14-09-1888 aged 3 y 11 months Died of diptheria
ALBERT WEEDON The Wray buried 02-10-1888 aged 5 years Died of diptheria
ANNIE CHAPMAN The Wray buried 03-10-1888 aged 8 years Died of diptheria
JOHN WILLIAM WEEDON The Wray buried 08-10-1888 aged 2 years Died of diptheria
Not a child but also a victim
JOHN CROSSLEY The Wray buried 28-03-1889 aged 66 years Died of diptheria



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