Sarah was born in 1785 into a prominent Cumberland family who were acquainted with the movers and shakers of their day, from William Wordsworth to George Stephenson. She had remarkable talents and was ‘educated far beyond the reach of her own sex and indeed of most men’. In 1815, along with her younger sister, Katharine, she went on the ‘Grand Tour’ of France, Germany and Italy where her interest in architecture was awakened.
Sarah Losh was an individual genius, a Charlotte Bronte of wood and stone – Simon Jenkins, England’s 1000 Best Churches
When in 1840 the old church in Wreay fell into disrepair, Sarah stepped in, donating a piece of land and sufficient funds for the building of a new church on ‘condition that I should be left unrestricted as to the mode of building it.’
Sarah had never entirely recovered from the death of her sister five years earlier and St Mary’s is in part a memorial to her. She brought all her artistry, devotion and scientific interests to bear in St Mary’s, enriching it with symbolic ornament and carvings.
Sarah, who died in 1853, has been described as ‘a gentlewoman of exemplary worth and benevolence’ and it is her generosity that has left us with this unique and very personal building.