Coordinates: 54°39′46″N 2°41′05″W / 54.6628°N 2.6847°W / 54.6628; -2.6847

Ninekirks is located in Cumbria
Ninekirks, between Penrith and Appleby in Westmorland, shown within Cumbria.
Photograph of Ninekirks
Ninekirks from the air

Ninekirks (Church of England), dedicated to Saint Ninian, was formerly the parish church of Brougham, Cumbria. It is situated on the south bank of the River Eamont near its confluence with the River Eden.



The Ninekirks site has been continuously occupied since at least Roman times (Simpson, 1958). The current church building is Grade 1 listed.[1] It is one of very few to be built during the Commonwealth of England and has been altered very little. (Three other churches of this age are: Church of the Holy Trinity, Berwick-on-Tweed; St Matthias Old Church, London Borough of Tower Hamlets; and Staunton Harold, Leicestershire.)


Before the Norman conquest of England

The Ninekirks Hoard of barbarous radiate coins (Casey, 1978) demonstrates Roman occupation of site. The area was associated with St.Ninian from a very early date (Lees, 1879) but "not everyone is convinced entirely by the arguments of Canon Bouch and others for Ninian" (Jones, 1973). There are caves nearby on the north bank of the Eamont at a site called Isis Parlis and possible evidence of occupation of these is used to support arguments in favour of early hermit use.

From the Norman Conquest to Lady Anne Clifford's reconstruction

The church fell into disuse after the surrounding village was moved to near Brougham Hall. The move took place between 1230 and 1284 (Bouch, 1950). It has been known as Ninekirks since at least 1583 (Bouch, 1950). It was reconstructed by Lady Anne Clifford in 1659 (Clifford, 2003).

From reconstruction to the present day

Ninekirks tended to be used when Brougham Chapel was unavailable. For example, from 1764 until the 1840s Ninekirks was used for weddings because Brougham Chapel was in need of repair work. Ninekirks was itself repaired in the 1840s. The porch was added in 1841 (RCHM, 1936) and tombs within the church were excavated in 1846 when the church was being repaired. According to Brougham (1847) these included those of Udard (or Odard) de Broham (died c.1185) and Gilbert de Broham (died c.1230). Despite the repair work, the church was poorly maintained when George Shaw visited in 1847 (Shaw, 1848).

The church had a brief golden age in the early 1950s when the Rector was Canon Bouch. His publications in the Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society (1947, 1950 and 1955 (twice)) demonstrate his interest. It was made redundant in 1977 (Herald, 1976) and now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.


The church contains three hatchments, described in Boumphrey (1980):

  • Elizabeth Richmond (died 1729) and Peter Brougham (died 1732)
  • Eleanora Syme (died 1839) who married Henry Brougham (died 1810), father of the 1st Baron
  • Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux (died 1868) and Mary Anne Eden (died 1865)


The church and its area have been the subject of at least four archaeological investigations:

  • Excavations took place inside the church during the repairs in the 1840s (Brougham, 1847) when some ancient tombs were investigated.
  • Excavations at Isis Parlis in 1913 (Heelis, 1914) aiming to find out how the caves had formed and how they had been used.
  • The coin hoard was discovered in 1914 (Bouch and Kent, 1955)
  • Crop marks were observed in a 1968 aerial photograph (St.Joseph, 1978) consistent with a small monastic site.

See also

  • Grade I listed buildings in Cumbria
  • List of churches preserved by the Churches Conservation Trust in Northern England


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