History Files


Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Cumbria

by Steve Bulman & Peter Kessler, 28 February 2020

Carlisle Part 3: Churches of Central Carlisle

St Mary & St Joseph Roman Catholic Chapel, Carlisle, Cumbria

St Mary & St Joseph Roman Catholic Chapel occupies a large slice of the eastern end of Chapel Street, on its northern side. It was built between 1822-1824 to replace the West Walls Roman Catholic Chapel, and Chapel Street itself was laid out to provide access to it. The chapel closed when it was replaced in 1891-1892 by the larger premises of Our Lady & St Joseph on Warwick Square. Since then the old chapel has largely been reconfigured as a retail premises.

Salvation Army Sands Meeting, Carlisle, Cumbria

Salvation Army Sands Meeting was held in the former Matchbox Theatre on the Sands - this area later included the cattle market between Newmarket Road and Hardwicke Circus, immediately south of Eden Bridge (now under the dfs building). Meeting here from its first arrival in Carlisle in 1880, the Army was used to large meetings in the open air or in rented halls. It left the Sands around 1894 to take over Annetwell Street Congregational Church, remaining there for many decades.

Railway Mission Hall, Carlisle, Cumbria

The Railway Mission Hall was on the northern side of East Tower Lane (formerly Tower Street), midway along (to the left here, behind the bus stop). It began in the 1880s to cater specifically for railway workers. The trigger was a Bible study in a waiting room on Carlisle station. The mission hall was built to accommodate 800 people, opening in 1910. It was later demolished to make way for the Debenham's extension, while the mission became Grace Evangelical Church.

St Alban's Chapel, Carlisle, Cumbria

St Alban's Chapel once sat beside the old town hall on St Alban's Row (towards the left here) - the row itself is marked by the arch on the northern side of the old town hall building. The chapel may have had a pre-Norman foundation. Under the Normans it became chantry but was dissolved in 1549 along with a great many other such chapels across the country. Demolition followed, but the chapel is commemorated in St Alban's Row and perhaps the layout of Rosemary Lane.

Fisher Street (Second) Quaker Meeting, Carlisle, Cumbria

The site of Fisher Street (Second) Quaker Meeting is on the eastern side of Fisher Street, about fifteen metres south of the St Mary's Gate junction - now (in 2019) The Arches coffee shop. At the end of the 1600s attempts were made to re-establish a Quaker meeting in Carlisle. Numbers soon increased, premises were bough along Fisher Street  (see below). This location replaced it in 1776, enlarged in 1864. It was sold in 1962 in favour of a third site on Fisher Street.

Methodist Central Hall, Carlisle, Cumbria

Methodist Central Hall stands on the eastern side of Fisher Street, about thirty metres north-west of the junction with Market Street. Methodists had moved into Fisher Street in 1776 when they purchased the (first) Quaker Meeting rooms (see the Wesleyan chapel entry, below). It was not until 1817 that they were in a position, in terms of funds and a growing congregation, to be able to build a larger hall on this side of the street (shown here in a postcard of about 1912).

Methodist Central Hall, Carlisle, Cumbria

That first large hall of 1817 served the Methodists well until 1922. Then it was demolished so that a far grander building - the present one - could be erected using red sandstone ashlar over a steel frame. This opened for services in 1923. Post-war, though, the situation changed. Attendances dropped continuously and the cost of keeping the now too-large building going were spiralling. Central Hall closed in 2006 and the Methodists moved to a smaller location in the Tithe Barn.

Fisher Street Presbyterian Chapel, Carlisle, Cumbria

Fisher Street Presbyterian Chapel stood on the eastern side of Fisher Street, with the entrance to Spinner's Yard on its south-eastern flank (the gap between the cream building and the farther building with two green doors - the site of the chapel). It was built in 1737 (or 1730), and replaced by a larger building in 1894. From 1972 it was Fisher Street United Reformed Church, but it was absorbed by the Church of Scotland in 1975. The chapel was demolished in 1986.

Fisher Street (First) Quaker Meeting, Carlisle, Cumbria

Fisher Street (First) Quaker Meeting was on the west side of Fisher Street, now 'The Brickyard', in Richmond Memorial Hall. The first successful Quaker meeting in Carlisle at the end of the 1600s (after the ending of the Abbey Close meeting) proved so popular a chapel was built here in 1693. It remained in use until a grander site was chosen in 1776 (above). This became Fisher Street Wesleyan Methodist Chapel until 1817 and then was home to a Baptist meeting.

Carlisle Friends Meeting House (Quakers), Carlisle, Cumbria

Carlisle Friends Meeting House (Quakers) is on the south side of Castle Way, sandwiched between the West Tower Street and Fisher Street turnings. The Quakers previously met at two other locations along Fisher Street (see above), as well as in Abbey Close (see links), but the cost of their twentieth century home in what is now The Arches coffee shop proved to expensive. They moved here in 1963, erecting the present building on part of their old burial ground.

Nine photos on this page by Steve Bulman of 'The Churches of Britain and Ireland', and one from the History Files collection.



Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original feature for the History Files.