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Grid reference: NY459265
Location: 54°37’52"N, 2°50’21"W
Population: 1,326  (2001)
Post town: Penrith
Postcode: CA11
Dialling code: 01768
Local Government
Council: Westmorland & Furness
Penrith and The Border

Dacre is a small village in Cumberland, standing on the north bank of the Dacre Beck, a little above where it adds its waters to the River Eamont. Ullswater lies due south and Penrith 5 miles to the northeast.

The village is known for the Dacre Bears at the parish church and for the site of Dacre Castle. Its one pub is the Horse & Farrier. Nearby is the well-known small stately home of Dalemain.

In the 2001 census, the parish, which includes Newbiggin and Stainton, had a population of 1,326.


St Andrew's Church

Parish Church

St Andrew's is the parish church. As early as 731, the Venerable Bede, in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, speaks of a monastery at Dacre, written as 'Dacore'. There is no later reference to the monastery, and it is assumed to have been destroyed by the Vikings.[1] A church, however, has been present on the site for over a millennium. Archaeological excavations support the view that the church may be built on the site of the former monastery.[2]

The present church is a Norman design. Several notable archaeological remains are at the site. These include the celebrated 'Dacre Bears', and inside the church two fragments of Viking crosses.[2]

Above the tower doorway, there is a plaque stating that the church was partly rebuilt by William Pollock. The south door has a large lock dated 1671 inscribed 'AP', referring to the Countess of Pembroke, Lady Anne Clifford.[2] The resting place of Viscount Whitelaw, the former Home Secretary, is in the church grounds.[3]

The Dacre bears

A bear in the churchyard

The Dacre bears are mysterious figures which still about the church. Much weathered over the ages, it is not known whether they are meant to be bears, lions or some other figure, but it is believed that they predate the church.

The bears sit in various poses and have been the cause of much speculation, theory and of poetry (most of it best left unrepeated).


In William of Malmesbury's account of the Treaty of Eamont Bridge, he states that the meeting of the kings took place in Dacre ('ad locum qui Dacor uocatur'), but historians doubt the accuracy of his statement.

Dacre Castle was a quadrangular building with four turrets, a pele tower design, and built around the time of King Henry VII. The castle was restored as a private dwelling in 1688. By 1816 it was being used as a farmhouse.[1] The castle is presently in an excellent state of restoration.[4]

The Horse and Farrier public house is the 18th-century inn signposted from the A66 and A592. It is a pub and not an inn, as it does not have rooms; the interior of the building has been described as 16th century.

In the Middle Ages the parish formed part of the Barony of Greystoke. The Rheged Discovery Centre is at Slapestones between Stainton and Redhills.


The Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway had a station at Newbiggin but was called Blencow Station to avoid confusion with Newbiggin station on the Settle to Carlisle Railway.


Dalemain House

Outside links