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Hereward visits Buttermere to become poetic over this dramatic lake and to find the little church of St. James’s

St. James's

Buttermere sparkles like a jewel in the summer, but the autumn finds it at its best when it takes on a colourful majesty in the twilight of the year.

The Fish Hotel is famous for once being the home of the ‘Maid of Buttermere’.  The result was a tale of a beautiful maiden, a ruthless con man and a woeful lesson in gullibility.  Every storyteller from Wordsworth to Melvyn Bragg has dipped his pen into it over the years.

The lake is only a modest 1.5 miles long by three quarters of a mile wide and is enclosed between high fells.

Some say the name Buttermere derives from the Saxon earl Boethar who defeated the invading Normans.  Others, perhaps with a more pastoral leaning, say it means the lake by the dairy pastures.

The head of the lake with the topsy-turvy summits of Haystacks beyond

The triangular dome of Fleetwith Pike.  To the left lies the Honister Pass.

The Honister Pass, gateway to Buttermere.

The village of Buttermere, where sheep safely graze

The Fish Hotel in Buttermere has two delightfull representations of the char, a fish left behind by the last ice age and resident in Lakeland’s deepest and coldest lakes.

Buttermere’s first chapel was consecrated in 1507.  The original church congregation was too small to warrant a clergyman.  Instead, a reader took the services and for his trouble he was entitled to free shoes and clothing as well as room and board. 

The present building dates from the 1840s.  In 1884 the east end was extended to make a sanctuary and a vestry was added to the north side.

St. James’, Buttermere.

The Mary and Martha altar window added in 1893.

The distinctive pink stone was quarried from the base of Sour Milk Ghyll on the opposite fellside.

The west porch, added in 1933.

The wrought iron ‘Shepherd’s Gate’, symbolising shepherds both religious and agricultural.

Buttermere at its best painted in its autumn colours...

A young relative?