According to tradition, St Patrick came to the southern shores of Ullswater in about 540AD, after his boat became stranded on the Duddon Sands. He is said to have converted many local people to Christianity and on the Ullswater Way between Patterdale and Glenridding, not far from the War Memorial, is St. Patrick’s Well, where the baptisms are alleged to have taken place. St Patrick gave his name to the area, with Patricksdale being shortened to Patterdale over time.
The church we see today is Victorian, built in 1852-3 after “a frightful storm of snow and wind” destroyed the previous church. William Marshall, a wealthy linen manufacturer who lived at Patterdale Hall, employed the eminent architect, Anthony Salvin, to design the new church and it was built in little over a year. The stained glass was added in the latter part of the 19th century and lighting by oil lamp was also introduced then.
The original chapel that previously stood on the spot dated from the 14th century but had been extensively rebuilt about 1620.
In its churchyard was a magnificent ancient yew, probably dating back to the Norman Conquest. Sadly, it met its end in a violent storm in 1883 but its roots still remain under an irregular mound in the churchyard.
When the new church was opened the font from the old chapel became a mere bird bath in the churchyard. It was not until 1900 that its worth was realised and it was restored and returned to the church. Parts of it are thought to be Norman.
Inside the church are a number of beautiful embroideries by Ann Macbeth (1875-1948) who was a distinguished member of the Glasgow School and came to live in Patterdale.
Other famous people who have worshipped at St. Patrick’s Church, include Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey, Ruskin, Turner, Tennyson, and Charles Darwin.