Visit St Bees Priory
The church is open to visitors from early morning until dusk – nominally around 9.00 a.m till 5.00 p.m. though we lock up earlier in winter and later in summer. Guided tours and talks are normally available, contact Reverend Becky Gibbs.
There are a number of historic displays in the church and lights will come on as you go round.
We do have some restrictions in place due to Covid-19 including wearing masks, sanitizing hands and not touching the displays. We want to keep all our visitors safe.
In these challenging times, you may find that you just wish to sit, pray and reflect in the peaceful surroundings of the Priory.
If access is available, make sure you go through to the Old College Hall (door to left of altar) and see this splendid medieval hall, one of the finest in the country that continues in regular use, but pause in the doorway and look both into the church and the hall. As the original altar was at the far end of the hall, this will give you an idea of how large the original church was.
We regret disabled access is somewhat limited. There are stairs to both doors of the Old College Hall and a single step up to the Fox Screen, the chancel and Lady Chapel, and the altar area. However the nave is all on one level.
History and Heritage
St Bees Priory holds a number of treasures from its 900 year history. St Bees Man is one of the most well known.
St Bees Man was the name given to the extremely well preserved body of a medieval man discovered on the grounds of St Bees Priory, Cumbria, in 1981. His identity was subsequently established as that of Anthony de Lucy, 3rd Baron Lucy, who died in 1368, probably killed on crusade at New Kaunas, in what is now Lithuania.
The body was found buried in a wooden coffin, wrapped in lead sheet. Despite the lead sheet being damaged at the foot end, the body was in a remarkable state of preservation. The body was wrapped in two shrouds, which are on display in the priory.
The body was reported to exhibit pink skin and visible irises immediately after being exhumed. An autopsy performed on the body shortly after its discovery indicated that the cause of death was most likely a hemothorax caused by a direct blow to the torso. Find out more on the St Bees village website page
The grounds are fairly extensive and in particular we would invite you to walk round the Sleeping Child Garden to the south of the church. You can also take a circular route round the graveyard, back through Priory Paddock, the side of the school playing field and back into the church grounds. Leaflets are available in the church to help you identify items as you round the church and the grounds.
Parking is available at the entrance – please use these spaces. For those with serious walking difficulties you may park near the vicarage. Please note this is the Vicarage’s private parking area and this area and the other limited areas should not be used unless essential. No parking on Priory drives nor on grass areas at any time please.
Finding the church once in St Bees is easy – it is the most prominent building in front of you as you drive into St Bees.
The post code for the church is CA27 0DR .
The welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults is an absolute priority for us. Safeguarding shows God's love in action and in churches demonstrates safety and security, where abuse and mistreatment of others is not tolerated.
For more information and who to contact if you are concerned that someone you know about may be suffering harm please visit our Safeguarding page.