Underbarrow is a scattered farming community, sheltered by the rocky ridge of Scout Scar. The Old English name ‘Underbarrow’ (meaning ‘under the hill’) roots us firmly in the landscape here.
There has been a church or chapel on this site since 1547, but the Victorian building we have today, with its distinctive octagonal tower, was built in 1869.
All Saints’ Church is open for visitors to discover throughout the year. As you wander around, you’ll see many reminders of the generations who have worshipped here before us.
The Library Box on the wall is the oldest part of our church. This was a book cupboard used in a school connected to the church in 1793. Pupils at the school learned English, Latin, Greek, book-keeping, navigation and short-hand.
Near the Library Box is a carved font, designed to hold water for baptising babies and new Christian believers. Fonts are usually made of stone, so this wooden one is unusual. The ebony columns match the communion rail at the front of the church.
At the front end of the nave are the transepts (the alcoves on each side). During a renovation project in 2016 and 2017, a toilet and small kitchen were installed in the north transept. Other changes included new heating and lighting systems, and the provision of disabled access. The south transept has been largely occupied by the church organ since it was installed there in 1906.
The pulpit on the left is where the preacher often stands to give the sermon. Next to it is a carved angel carrying the message ‘God is love’. This quote from John’s Gospel is a key theme of the Christian faith.
The narrow front section of the church is called the chancel. On either side you can see the stalls where the church choir used to sit.
At the end of the chancel is the colourful East Window. The left-hand section shows a young Jesus with Mary and Joseph the carpenter. The right-hand section is a scene from Luke’s Gospel in which Jesus welcomes little children.
The central section includes seven small scenes and quite a number of sheep. Perhaps this is a nod to the farming community of Underbarrow.
On the right-hand side of the chancel there is a traditional lectern in the shape of an eagle. The Bible is read aloud each Sunday, either from this lectern or from a stand in the nave. We use different coloured bookmarks, depending on the time of year.
The church organ was added before mains electricity arrived in Underbarrow. In those days, the church had to pay young, energetic people from the village to pump the organ by hand on Sundays.
On your way back to the main door, you will see a memorial to former parishioners and a list of Underbarrow clergy dating back to 1220. As you leave, pay a visit to the war memorial in the churchyard. We remember the seven local men who died in the First World War at our Remembrance Service every year.