Wreay Church

Wreay in Cumbria is quite possibly the most beautiful church building in England. Paid for and designed by Sarah Losh, a rich woman with a penchant for Lombardic, Romanesque architecture, it looks like something from seventh-century Italy, in stark contrast to the village’s climate. The day we called we arrived, a wedding was arranged for that very afternoon. Before respectfully taking our leave, therefore, we photographed and observed the building at its very finest. A beautiful church decorated gayly for a special couple’s fabulous day. It is not weighted down by a thousand years’ history and clutter, neither is it some stark modernist warehouse-like structure with crude metal beams and gaunt utilitarian walls. Here is a beautiful, tasteful example of ecclesiastical architecture.

Still, having toured real Roman basilicas and sampled the delights of many an English parish church, I have to ask if there is real beauty here. Not the elegant proportions, not the crafted statuary, not the choice of material- but the Beautiful One, Christ Jesus. Is it a place where He is proclaimed, loved and obeyed? Where His name is held in high honour, His reputation defended, His saving work shared? The church’s website says little of salvation, nor of Jesus Himself, but a website seldom tells all. If here the gospel is not preached, I can honestly say I have seen tin tabernacles and wooden haylofts more beautiful for having God’s saving grace preached and proclaimed.

Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; They will see the land that is very far off. Isaiah 33:17