History of the Church
The parish church of Dufton, St Cuthbert’s, lies about ¾ mile north west of the village, off the Knock road. It is possible that this was a sacred site before the coming of Christianity to Cumbria. The old part of the churchyard is curvilinear, which indicates a Celtic foundation. Tradition has it that the site is one of those where the Lindisfarne monks rested with the body of St Cuthbert while fleeing the Vikings in 865 – hence the dedication to St Cuthbert.
Reused masonry in the church walls indicate the presence of a 12th Century church. The first written mention of the church is in 1291. The building was heavily restored in 1784 – the west tower and much of the masonry dating from this time. In 1853 it was restored again, and a further restoration took place in 1946 including a new east window. The present light and airy interior owes much to the restoration of 1853.
Dufton also has its own saint – St John Boste. He was born in Dufton in 1543 and attended Appleby Grammar School and Oxford University. He later became a Catholic priest and ministered in secret to the Catholics of the north of England in particular. Like most such priests he was betrayed and subsequently hanged, drawn and quartered at Durham on 24th July 1594. He was one of the “Forty martyrs of England and Wales” canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970.
There is a fuller account of the history in a leaflet to be found at the back of the church.