Kirkby Stephen: Wharton Altar Tomb


In the aisle to the north of the chancel in Kirkby Stephen Parish Church is the monument to Thomas, 1st Lord of Wharton. Born in 1501, Lord Wharton was created Baron in 1544 by King Henry VIII following his success during warfare with the Scots on the battlefield at Solway Moss. He founded Kirkby Stephen Grammar School in 1566 and died in the Yorkshire Dales in 1568.


The monument effigies depict Thomas with his first wife Eleanor Stapleton and his second wife Anne Talbot.


The carved alabaster tomb chest features a latin inscription that runs around the top of the tomb. Latin epitaphs celebrate the two marriages of Lord Wharton and his four children. The tomb itself is empty as Lord Wharton is buried at his estate in Yorkshire.


Kirkby Stephen: Loki Stone


Opposite the south door of the Church of St Stephen sits a sculpted figure from Norse mythology. The figure depicted is the trickster god Loki Laufeyjarson who was the son of the giants Fárbauti and Laufey. The stone was discovered amongst ancient gravestones at the far end of the church but was subsequently moved inside the building. Dating to the 8th century, the carved figure of Loki is shown to be bound and chained with the stone being one of few physical remains from the time when Vikings had settled in the area. The stone is unique in Britain and is one of only two known carvings of its type in Europe.

Kirkby Stephen: Church of St Stephen


Located on the north side of Market Square in Kirkby Stephen is the parish church of St Stephen. Rebuilt in the early 13th century, the church is constructed of coursed squared rubble and ashlar. The 16th century west tower is of three stages and features an embattled parapet with pinnacles.


The church features a clerestory detailing double and triple mullioned windows which date to the 19th century.


The church features a seven bay nave with much of the interior stonework replaced or reworked during the 19th century.


The aisles have 15th century windows with tracery which dates to the 19th century.


The ornately decorated pulpit is constructed of various coloured marble and dates to c1871. The Church of St Stephen is Grade II* Listed.

Kirkby Stephen: Stone Coffin


Located in the Parish Church of Kirkby Stephen is a medieval stone coffin which was unearthed during excavations in 1950. The coffin still had an intact skeleton, thought to be that of a woman, and is only one of four similar coffins known of in Westmorland. The coffin is thought to date to the 12th century.

Kirkby Stephen: Anglo-Danish Stone Fragments


On display in an exhibition space in the Parish Church of Kirkby Stephen are fragmentary stone pieces. The above stone is a type of cross-head sometimes referred to as a plate head. Carved out of a large block of sandstone, the arms stand proud and are linked by a raised outer rim. The block has been squared off, truncating the two side arms and removing most of the linking ring. The date of the stone is uncertain but thought likely to be 11th century.


The above semi cylindrical shaft on display was found in 1847 built into the wall of the chancel. With well preserved patterns on all sides, it has delicately carved ornamentation. The patterns of plaited strands and spiral scrolls are a blend of Saxon and Viking styles and date to the 10th century.


The above stone fragment is part of a cross head with only two of four cross arms remaining. The arms are linked by a ring which gives the appearance of a wheel and is where its description of a wheel cross is derived. Crudely carved and badly damaged, the stone design was popular in the Viking age and it dates to between 900-1100.