The Mysteries of Dacre

Dacre is a small village located in Cumbria, just a few miles outside of Ullswater and not far from the stately home of Dalemain.

This quaint and untouched village still has remnants of forgotten times, like the old school house which is now a private home. This village consists of houses, a pub, a church and the remains of an old castle. This village is surrounded by countryside and hills as it sits behind the beck of the same name.

Dacre castle was built in the 14th century and was used as protection from the Scottish raiders. The castle fell into disrepair and in the 17th century the castle underwent a full restoration where it was transformed into firstly a farm house and later on a private home. After the death of Lord Dacre in 1715 the castle and its lands were purchased by Sir Christopher Musgrave and through the marriage of his daughter to Edward Hasell, the castle and all its lands now belong to the Dalemain estate.

The castle is said to be haunted by a former owner’s wife and lover, whom the owner murdered.

Like any village it is centered around a churchyard – the parish of St Andrew.

The church was built on the site of a 7th century Saxon monastery.

The churchyard is relatively small, with an obvious division between the old and the new.

The old side is swamped by high trees, woodland and long grass that is almost covering the gravestones.

I often visit churchyards and burial sites, this by far is one of my favourites. I love the way the old gravestones have been left, almost frozen in time and engulfed back into nature.

There is definitely an air of mystery about this churchyard and there’s just something special about walking through the narrow pathways trying to spot the hidden stones.

There’s a huge variety of different shaped headstones here.

My personal favourites have to be the ones tucked away, hidden underneath the trees, overgrown by grass and flowers.

But what makes this place really special is four stone bear carvings that can be found in the old side, one on each corner.

No one really knows the purpose of these or why they were placed here, so it’s a bit of a mystery. There are speculations that perhaps they had something to do with a Pagan shrine, as we know all churches were Pagan burial grounds before Paganism was Christianised and it was the Druids that planted the Yew trees (where one of these trees can be found in every churchyard.) Or it is suggested that these stones had something to do with the monastery, of which some of the remains were found here. However, it’s more than likely these stones are pre-Saxon and that would make them nothing to do with the monastery and the likelihood is that they were the markers of some Pagan ritual site.

There are some other noteworthy things about this churchyard. There is a lock on the south door from 1671, that was given by Lady Anne Clifford, who is well-known in the area. She presented keys to people she had become friends with.

This is definitely a beautiful churchyard with lots of history and hidden meanings, as well as lots to look at. There’s an air of magic about this place and I highly recommend a stroll around to look at all the gravestones.

Blessed Be )O(

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