Cumbria is a county we all get to visit eventually because of its Lake District. Yet still much of it is quite neglected while we all pile into the honeypot areas around Keswick, Bowness, Ambleside and the like. Irton is on the eastern side of Cumbria, about halfway between Ravenglass (of miniature steam railway fame) and Wastwater, the Lake District’s most scenically dramatic lake. Irton Church itself is set in a deeply rural landscape
The church, like so many in Cumbria, is Victorian and, not to put too fine a point on it, pretty unprepossessing externally. The interior, however, belies the dismaying first impressions and is very pleasant. The church is rightly proud of its Burne-Jones glass.
Unless you are a parishioner or a genealogist, though, you won’t be here for the church but for the splendid Anglo-Saxon cross in its churchyard. It is ninth century and decorated in a distinctly Celtic fashion with lots of interlace patterns but no beasts or people. In that sense it is much less sophisticated than the other great Cumbrian crosses at Bewcastle, which is a hundred years older but which has royal provenance or at Gosforth only four miles away and which was erected a hundred years later than at Ireton.