Church of All Saints, Orton (c) WDLPS, 2023
The parish church of Orton consists of a west tower, a three-bay nave with aisles, and a chancel. The nave aisles have segment-headed lights under hoodmoulds with labels, and the chancel has lancet windows. Internally it has arcades of squat, wide-pointed arches.
The exact date of the Church of All Saints construction in Orton is unknown, however the building reflects its many different phases over the centuries. The church is first documented when it was awarded to Conishead Priory between 1154 and 1163, but possibly reused Roman masonry within its foundations may attest to a longer period of use. The earliest recorded fabric is a late 12th century pier and respond that formed part of the original crossing. The church was extended in the 13th century with the construction of the north and south aisles. Further alterations took place in the subsequent centuries. The roof timbers of the nave and aisles date to the late 15th and/or early 16th century, when the timbers were repaired. A three-stage castellated tower was rebuilt in the early 16th century. The south aisle windows date to the same period. A gabled porch was added on the south side in 1607. The church was again extensively remodelled between 1878-9 by regional architects Paley and Austin who, for instance, rebuilt the chancel. Minor alterations to the interior of the church have occurred since, for example with the installation of electric lighting in 1938.
The church is also home to a number of different features. This includes a piscina in a trefoil-arched recess, an octagonal stone font dated 1662, the Royal Arms painted on a panel (dated to 1695), and a number of bells that have been relocated to the north aisle. This includes a bell dated to 1530 and a couple of bells dated to 1637. This early bell was taken out of use in 1917. It is inscribed with ‘omniu sanctoru’ (of all the saints). It is thought to have been cast at Nottingham in 1530 with three other bells.
- L. Thompson, ‘Art. IV. Westmorland Church Bells’, in Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 2, vol 70 (1970)
Oxford Archaeology North, All Saints CE Parish Church, Orton, Cumbria: archaeological desk-based assessment and visual inspection: Draft Report (2004)