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Historic Priory set to celebrate 850th anniversary

A weekend of music and worship is set to mark the 850th anniversary of an historic Cumbrian Priory’s consecration.

Lanercost Priory, near Brampton, was founded by Sir Robert de Vaux in 1166 and was consecrated in 1169, housing Augustinian Canons.

Now the anniversary of that consecration will be marked through a special programme of concerts in the Priory, on Saturday 20 July. The following day (Sunday 21 July) the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome, will officiate at a ‘Festival’ Eucharist at 4pm.

David Bamford, who is a Licensed Lay Reader in the Benefice of Lanercost, with Walton, Gilsland and Nether Denton Lanercost, has helped to organise the music for the day.

He said: “I suggested a day of music to celebrate the Priory’s rich musical history and so a small group of us has pushed on with organizing the event.

“There’ll be a series of concerts, featuring a variety of music, given on the hour and lasting about 35 to 40 minutes each. There will also be refreshments available throughout. We are very grateful to all those performing as they are all giving their services for free.”

The scheduled concerts will see performances from:

• 10am Eden Brass (Brass Quartet)
• 11am David O’Donnell (Piano, accordion, organ)
• 12 Noon Cornucopia (Renaissance ensemble)
• 1pm Ukes Akimbo (Ukulele ensemble)
• 2pm Jubilate (Choir)
• 3pm James Booth (Classical Guitar) and Sarah Lewis-Briggs (Soprano)
• 4pm Maddy Prior (Folk Ensemble)
• 5pm Maja Bugge (Cello)
• 7.30pm Evening Concert - Brampton & District Community Choir and The League of Ukulele Gentlemen

The event will celebrate the consecration of a building which has had a tumultuous history. In 1296 the Priory’s cloister was burnt down by the Scots, before being completely destroyed the following year by William Wallace.

It was visited on a number of occasions by Edward 1, with him making it his temporary headquarters in 1306 in his war against the Scots. Five years later Robert Bruce came to Lanercost for three days, imprisoning some of the Canons. In 1346 King David II of Scotland ransacked the buildings and desecrated the Church.

Under Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries in 1536 the remaining Canons were turned out of the building and the roofs were stripped away, apart from the roof over the Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene.

The Priory Church continues as a centre of Christian life to the present day, following major restorations in 1849 and in the 1870s.

In 1929, the Priory ruins were put into public ownership, and are today managed by English Heritage.

Lily Hopkins, who acts as a steward for visitors to the Priory, said: “It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate 850 years of Christian witness within this building. I find it very moving that, though there have been some very difficult times in these Border lands over the years, the Christian message has continued to be preached at the Priory.

“We get so many visitors to the Priory each day from this country and overseas and one of their first questions is always ‘Is it still used?’ They are thrilled when they’re told it is. We continue to carry the torch of faith forward through this building.”

All events are non-ticketed and entry is free of charge. Donations are invited and proceeds will be divided between Eden Valley Hospice and the Priory Restoration Fund.



For further information please contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at


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