St Bees - St Bega's Priory

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When: 01 Jan - 31 Dec 2013

Cost: Free

Opening hours: 9am-5pm

Website: Visit website

Festivals & Heritage

The town of St. Bees is named after St. Bega, said to be an Irish princess who landed here, about 900 AD after sailing across the Irish Sea to avoid an enforced marriage to a Viking chieftain. On the site of an earlier church now stands the splendid 12th Century Priory Church of St Mary and St. Bega, which was a Benedictine Priory until its dissolution by Henry VIII in 1539.

The church is a cruciform structure, topped by a central tower. It’s outstanding feature is the Norman west entrance, comprising five semicircular arches decreasing in size as they approach the door. They are decorated with beak heads of men and serpents, whilst the dripstone above the outer arch is embellished with a trefoil, designed to represent the Trinity.

The church was restored by the architect William Butterfield, the North transept features sculptures by Josefina de Vasconcellos of the figures of St Bega and St Mary (1955), and many stained glass windows, by William Wailes of Newcastle. Father’ Henry Willis built the organ in 1899, his last major commission, and one of the best examples of the work of the famous Victorian organ-builder.

Visitor information

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Venue address

St Bega's Priory
St Bees, CA27 0DR


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