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The Pinecone

The story of Sarah Losh

Jenny Uglow


Jenny Uglow’s critically acclaimed biography of Sarah Losh, the Cumbrian visionary and architect responsible for Wreay Church.

In the village of Wreay, near Carlisle, stands the strangest and most magical church in Victorian England. This vivid, original book tells the story of its builder, Sarah Losh, strong-willed and passionate and unusual in every way. Born into an old Cumbrian family, heiress to an industrial fortune, Sarah combined a zest for progress with a love of the past. In the church, her masterpiece, she let her imagination flower – there are carvings of ammonites, scarabs and poppies; an arrow pierces the wall as if shot from a bow; a tortoise-gargoyle launches itself into the air. And everywhere there are pinecones, her signature in stone. The church is a dramatic rendering of the power of myth and the great natural cycles of life and death and rebirth. Sarah’s story is also that of her radical family – friends of Wordsworth and Coleridge; of the love between sisters and the life of a village; of the struggle of the weavers, the coming of the railways, the findings of geology and the fate of a young northern soldier in the Afghan war. Above all, though, it is about the joy of making and the skill of local, unsung craftsmen.

For those interested in finding out more, a thorough illustrated biography, ‘Sarah Losh and Wreay Church’ is available by local historian and author Stephen Matthews. Stephen has also edited both volumes of ‘The Sarah Losh Journal’, an annual journal publishing work on the Losh family and the village and church of Wreay. These publications are all available on this website.





Publication Date:

2013 September


Paperback; 199 x 127mm.




Colour photographs and black & white illustrations