Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Friday 17 May 2024

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Brougham

Some miles away across the Fells on the northern border of Westmorland stand the still impressive ruins of Brougham Castle and it was after he had visited it in the 1540s that John Leland noted “About a dim from the castell there is a village called Burgham, and ther is a gret pilgrimage to our Ladye”. 

Waterton printed this statement in his list of statues, devotions and pilgrimages, but obviously could find nothing more. My fairly rudimentary search has not yielded anything. From what Leland says I think he must be referring to the old parish church of Brougham, which is at some distance from the village and castle. Known as Ninekirks it is dedicated to St Ninian, which suggests considerable antiquity, and the churchyard has yielded evidence of what appears to have been an early Christian monastic site. The church itself, which has some medieval grave slabs from its predecessor, was rebuilt in the 1650s by the formidable Lady Anne Clifford. It is believed, or claimed, to be one of only three churches to have been built in that sterile decade.

There are online websites about the church at 

Ninekirks from WikipediaSt Ninian's Church, Brougham, Cumbria

from Visit ChurchesNinekirks from Great English ChurchesSt Ninians Church Ninekirks steeped in Brougham history

from All things Brougham, Brougham St Ninian's Church from Visit Cumbria,  Brougham, St Ninian Ninekirk Church, Penrith, Cumbria from Britain Express and  Touching the lost past of Ninekirks from bitaboutBritain


Whatever the pilgrimage recorded by Leland it was clearly one in a series of events on a site long established for Christian worship.

 May Our Lady of Brougham pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all

No comments: