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St Eadmer Bleasdale


St Eadmer's Church was rebuilt in 1835 by John Dewhurst and restored and enlarged in 1897. The church retains its pews and western gallery, has a west tower and lancet windows. 

St Eadmer's Church has a unique dedication, celebrating the Northumbrian monk who discovered the site of Durham Cathedral, the final resting place of St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne.


The church is located on the Bleasdale Estate, on a private road leading up from Bleasdale Lane, on rising ground to the north of Bleasdale C. of E. Primary School. A church is believed to have existed on the present site since 1577, but the current building was erected in 1835, extended in 1897 and the chancel rebuilt in 1922. The church is built in random sandstone with a pitched roof, which was originally covered in stone flags, but as these deteriorated they were replaced by Welsh slate. The chancel walls have a rubble stonework finish.

The windows are of the tall lancet type, with tooled stone surrounds and, with the exception of the East window, plain glass with leaded lights. King post exposed trusses support exposed purlins which carry the roof, with a lath and plaster ceiling fixed to the underside of the rafters following the pitch of the roof.

Stone steps lead up to a small stone built porch at the west end on the south side. A balcony at the west end of the church has a raked floor containing pews. Below the balcony is the vestry, which is also beneath the tower, which houses one bell which is rung just before each service.

The tower parapet is finished with crenelated stonework and has an asphalt roof, which is finished with solar reflective paint. The church has a stone flagged floor with raised sections in timber.

At each side of a central aisle simple timber pews stand proud of the external walls, which have a plastered finish. An oil fired boiler with a balanced flue provides the heating, and is housed in a small boiler room at the north side of the west end. Toilet facilities are available next to the boiler room in a small lean-to extension.

At each side of a central aisle simple timber pews stand proud of the external walls, which have a plastered finish. An oil fired boiler with a balanced flue provides the heating, and is housed in a small boiler room at the north side of the west end. Toilet facilities are available next to the boiler room in a small lean-to extension.

A lych-gate with stone steps leads up to a path through the churchyard, paved in stone setts. The churchyard is still used for burials and is bounded by sandstone walls with shaped individual coping stones.

A garden of remembrance has been added on the north side of the churchyard, again bounded by sandstone walls.



There has been a church in Admarsh-in-Bleasdale since 1577, though the history of its foundation is very obscure. The earliest authentic record of a chapel is in 1610, when it was referred to as a chapel in the King’s Chase or Forest, for which reason the Royal Coat of Arms adorns the front of the balcony. Admarsh was at that time in the Archbishopric of York and in the Archdeaconry of Richmond.

The next reference is in 1650, during the Commonwealth period, when there was a Parliamentary Survey instituted for the purpose of the Presbyterian system of church government. This survey noted that Admarsh chapel was without “ministry or maintenance”, and stated: “that the people thereabout are an ignorant and careless people, knowing nothing of the worship of God, but live in ignorance and superstition.”

In 1683 this state of affairs was rectified by a bequest of a Mr. George Pigott of Preston, a relative of the then landowners, the Parkinson family. In a will dated July 28th of that year, Mr. Pigott left to his surviving trustees, Robert and Christopher Parkinson, the sum of £30 to provide a preaching minister at Admarsh-in-Bleasdale: “upon condition that they employ the yearly profits to a better sustenation of such a preaching minister.”

The bequest appears to have been lost because in 1702 Christopher Parkinson left £6 to the Admarsh Chapel to be employed in legal proceedings to recover the legacy.

Christopher Parkinson was a generous benefactor of the church. He left “forty shillings yearly and every year for ever, for a preacher or minister to officiate monthly at Admarsh Chapel within Bleasdale, with a further sum of forty shillings after his wife’s death.”

He was also much interested in education and to him is due the origin of Bleasdale School. He left a legacy of £10 yearly for a schoolmaster to teach at Admarsh Chapel, “or as near thereunto as convenient.” He also left to the poor of Bleasdale for ever the interest of his mortgage of £100, and £60 upon the lands of James Parkinson of Blindhurst, and Edward Parkinson of Bleasdale. (The Parkinson Charity continues to this day).

During the early 18th century the Vicar of Chipping held a service every first Sunday of the month but then on May 20th 1749, John Penny was licensed to the Curacy of Admarsh by the Vicar of Lancaster.

In 1767, another member of the Parkinson family, Richard Parkinson of Woodgate, engaged a Revd. Thomas Smith to become a permanent resident and to teach his children, as well as to officiate at Admarsh Chapel. He was provided with board and lodging, plus £10 a year. He was allowed to take in additional boarders into his “roomy house... by way of eking out his scanty maintenance.”

Thomas Smith was succeeded by the Revd. Joseph Stuart in 1778. He was appointed because, having been a schoolmaster in Garstang, he was deemed to be a “literate person.”  He remained both as a teacher and curate of Admarsh for 47 years.  Of later vicars, Littledale (1833) and Barclay (died 1897) are both buried in the churchyard.

Baptisms commenced at the Church in 1779, burials in 1781 and marriages in 1849.  The value of the Incumbency rose to £44 in 1844 and by 1892 the gross income was £127, “with 24 acres of Glebe land and a house, in the patronage of the Vicar of Lancaster.”  What is now Vicarage Farm, which is a little way north of the church, was for many years the Parsonage and the land adjoining it was farmed by the incumbent.

By the 1820’s Admarsh Chapel, described at the time as “being situated in one the wildest and uncultivated districts of the parish of Lancaster”, was in a sorry state of decay and much too small for the population. A subscription was therefore opened, as the inhabitants were said to be too poor to raise the necessary sum for rebuilding the chapel. Subscribers were reminded that “ a grain of mustard seed may become a tree ” and this appeal clearly worked as the church was rebuilt in 1835 with the name of St. Eadmer’s. A plaque in the Church commemorates this:

This Chapel was rebuilt and enlarged in the year 1835. William Fenton, minister; Richard Parkinson, Chapelwarden.”

An addition to this, another inscription commemorates the chancel extension eastwards in 1897: “Restored, reseated and chancel built in the year 1897, F H Parker, vicar, Alfred King and James Wills, Churchwardens.”

The new church of 1835 most probably occupies the site of the old church. Stone tracery in the window at the top of the belfry staircase is almost certainly older than 1835 and it may be that material from the old chapel was incorporated into the new building or, as is common, the tower foundations are older than the rest of the building.

However, one local legend has it that the original chapel was on the site of the barn, the house conversion of which can be seen at the north-west corner of the church car park (and even that this may be the old chapel). It is more likely however that, given its local prominence, the present site is the ancient one.

Since 1897 the Church has remained much as it is today, though with additional adornments. The fine East window of Christ the King is by a local Lancaster firm of glass-makers. The triptych of the Last Supper which forms the backcloth to the altar is also a 1920’s addition.


This was restored in the 1990’s in memory of Mr. Richard and Mrs Clare Silcock, thanks to the benefaction of Mr. And Mrs. Peter Duckworth, the then owners of the Bleasdale Estate.

Also in the 1990’s we gained the present electronic organ, to replace the one that was originally in the space to the left of the chancel.  Both the Silcock and Duckworth families have been generous benefactors and supporters of the church over the years.

Most recently a bequest from the late Marian Silcock has enabled us to remove the concrete rendering that covered the outside walls of the church since the 1930’s, returning it to its original stone finish, completely redecorate the inside and lay new red carpet, fix the roof and install new heating.

The Church has always had a close relationship with the owners of the Bleasdale Estate, going right back to the days of the Parkinsons of the 16th century.  Mr. Garnett, who held the estate in the latter part of the 19th and early part of the 20th century, was a philanthropist who built on his Estate a Reformatory for boys who were in trouble with the law. The boys were marched to church each Sunday, where they occupied the gallery, and some of their names can still be seen carved into the back of the pews, although how they secreted such sharp knives does not bear thinking about. A considerable number of unmarked graves of those who died in custody are under the yew tree at the north west end of the churchyard.

The Church lost its resident Vicar in 1921 and is now part of the Fellside Team,, which joins together with the churches of Whitechapel, Goosnargh, Bilsborrow and Barton.  A list of those who have been vicars at either Admarsh-in-Bleasdale or St. Eadmer’s up to 1921 is as follows:

1749-1764 John Penny (also vicar of Whitechapel)

1764-1767 John Braithwaite

1767-1778 Thomas Smith

1778-1825 Joseph Stuart (a schoolmaster of Garstang)

1825-1828 James Bleasdale

1828-1833 Osborne Littledale

1833-1837 William Fenton

1837-1846 James Robinson

1846-1851 Henry Short

1851-1855 David Bell

1855-1864 William Shilleto

1864-1891 Robert Barclay (buried in the churchyard)

1891-1918 John Parker



The Church in Bleasdale has a dedication which we believe is unique throughout the whole of the Christian world, that of Saint Eadmer (locally pronounced Eedmer, although probably a more accurate pronunciation would be E-A-dmer).

For a long time it was thought that the Eadmer referred to was the secretary to Saint Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, from 1079 to 1109 and who had written that Saint’s biography. But following an article in the Daily Telegraph in 1993 on the excavations being carried out in Canterbury Cathedral to install a new heating system, which mentioned Eadmer, a pupil at Bleasdale School, Joanne Whittingham, wrote to Canterbury Cathedral asking for such details of Eadmer as they had, so that they could be displayed in our church. However the Cathedral replied by saying that they did not believe that their Eadmer was the same as ours. They thought that our Eadmer had been the Bishop of Lindisfarne for 11 years from 688, before dying on 6 May 699. They enclosed a copy of an entry in Arnold-Foster’s book “Studies in Church Dedications”, which refers to an “unknown S. Eadnor who gives his name to the lonely Lancashire chapelry of Admarsh in Bleasdale – formerly Edmarsh – has been conjecturally identified with S. Cuthbert’s successor in the see of Lindisfarne.”

The St. Eadnor, who is said to have been written about by Bede himself (although Bede spells his name Eadbert,) ended up with his bones occupying one of the little bags of relics which surround St. Cuthbert’s body in its coffin in Durham Cathedral.

The two different spellings of the names of the saint does raise doubts as to whether Eadnor or Eadbert really is our Eadmer, a doubt perhaps strengthened by Arnold-Foster including his reference to our saint in his chapter entitled “Doubtful Dedications”.

This gives rise to a third possibility, and the one that is our present favourite. In Simeon’s “History of the Church of Durham”, written between 1104 and 1108, there is a passage relating to the original building of a church to house the remains and relics of Saint Cuthbert. The body of this great saint from the Celtic era was removed from Lindisfarne when the island was sacked during Viking raids. The journey the monks took throughout the north of England is well chronicled, first to Chester-le-Street and later to Ripon. From Ripon the coffin was carried across the North York moors, taking a route which is still known today as the “Lyke Wake Walk” or the “coffin” walk. All this journeying occupied a period of two centuries; it was only when raiders threatened that a new place of safety was sought.

Eventually those carrying the coffin on its final journey rested at a place called Wurdelau, on the eastern side of what is now the city of Durham. The vehicle on which the shrine containing St. Cuthbert’s remains were being carried became stuck, and all attempts to move it proved in vain. It was then that Bishop Aldune (Alduhn) addressed his monks and directed that: “they should solicit an explanation of this sign from heaven by a fast of three days duration, which should be spent in watching and prayer, in order that they might discover where they should take up their abode along with the holy body of the father.”

Simeon records that: “this having been done, a revelation was made to a certain religious person named EADMER, to the purport that they were required to remove the body to Durham, and there prepare a resting-place for it. When this revelation was publicly announced, all were comforted thereby, and joyfully returned thanks to Christ.”

The immoveable vehicle on which Cuthbert’s body rested was suddenly mobile again and it went to what is now Durham where “a little church of boughs of trees” was erected. Today the great Norman Cathedral of Durham stands on this same spot and the Shrine of St. Cuthbert, one of England’s greatest Saints, is housed within it.

But even if this is our St. Eadmer, how did our church get his name?

The answer to this may lie with the Richard Parkinson who was chapel warden when the present church was built in 1835.

The church records show bequests by his family to the Admarsh Chapel going back to 1683, but the history of his family itself can be traced back to the very early history of the north of England.

One of the family’s oldest branches lived in Bleasdale, in Fairsnape, whilst other branches were to be found in Durham and Yorkshire. Later the family spread to Scotland and Ireland and, from the 17th century, to America. The Parkinsons of Fairsnape were from the oldest line, claiming descent from the Featherstonehaughs of Featherstone Castle in Northumberland.

If Richard Parkinson knew of the history of Durham Cathedral he may have drawn a connection between St. Eadmer being responsible for the creation of that Cathedral and the building of a new and proper church in Admarsh. Anyway, that is what we like to think!

(Compiled by Mr Derek Pratt – St Eadmer’s Church, Bleasdale)