St John the Baptist Church, Edlingham May 2022

Sophie has returned from Spain for a couple of weeks, so we have been on some outings at the weekends and our first visit was to Edlingham in Northumberland, where there are castle ruins, and yet another (guess what) medieval church worth exploring.

The History Bit 🍪 ☕️

The Church is set in a beautiful landscape in the tiny village of Edlingham, formerly Eadwulfingham, in Northumberland. There is evidence of a church on this site, a wooden structure which was granted by King Ceolwulf of Northumbria to the Lindisfarne Island monastery, when he abdicated his crown to become a monk there in 737AD. It was replaced by another wooden one and consecrated by Bishop Egred in 840AD.

The first stone church dates to about 1050AD and there are fragments of the late Saxon building which can be seen in the west wall of the nave. The rest of the church is mostly 12th century though the tower was added around 1300 and was more than probably built as a defence against the Pesky Scots, who were raiding along the borders between Northumberland and Scotland. There are slit windows in the tower for the use of archers. In the 17th century it was likely that the church was used to imprison Moss Troopers, these were disbanded Pesky Scottish soldiers turned brigands, and quite happy to attack Parliamentary troops and civilians alike, as well as raiding livestock along the borders.

Inside the church is the tomb of Sir William De Felton, and an arched tomb recess in the wall bearing the arms of Sir Will who died in 1358. We’ll delve into his history when we get to the castle next time, as it was himself who had the castle built. The niche would have held the effigy of Sir Will in full armour, but that was presumably removed after the Restoration. In the recess now are several pieces of stone, including part of the shaft of a stone cross believed to be 8th Century, which is probably the cross that originally stood in a socket outside the porch.

There is an unusual late 11th century south porch, with a barrel vault. The chancel arch is typically Norman in design dating back to the early 1100s. This is also the date of the chancel itself, which may have replaced an earlier and smaller structure attached to the church that was built in the 1050s. 

The north aisle arcade is 12th century and the nave pillars feature scalloped capitals and nail head decoration.

At the east end of the aisle is an early cross slab, apparently dating from before the Norman Conquest. Another stone, dating back to the 1300s, and carved with a sword and a pair of shears, has been set into the floor immediately inside the door from the porch. That doesn’t seem like a great idea as people walking on it will wear it away, but I’m not in charge so that’s that.

cross slab

Most of the current windows were installed during a restoration in 1902. The window at the east end of the chancel is a little older and is especially glorious. This was installed in 1864 in memory of Lewis-de-Crespigny Buckle, (which has to be our best found name ever!) who died when the S.S. Nemis was lost at sea. It carries the inscription “The sea gave up the dead which were in it”.

One of his relatives also has a wall memorial.

Edlingham is a lovely little hamlet mainly consisting of farm buildings and a couple of cottages and the church and castle are set in a beautiful landscape, but back in the eighth century it was one of four royal villages given to St.Cuthbert by King Ceolwulf, and had a population of 600. Nowadays there are more cows than people living there.

Sophie and I love these old churches I’ve been posting of late, and this is likely the last for a while as Sophie is back in Spain now, and we’ve done most of them over the past 12 years! We love the feel of them, being in one and reading the memorials, seeing the remnants of anglo saxon stonework, or Norman arches, it’s like walking through history.

William was born in 1675, when Charles II, the ‘Merry Monarch’ was King of England, and died in 1737 when King George II was on the throne, 5 monarchs later. When William was 10 years old, James II of England and VII of Scotland became King, he was really unpopular because of his persecution of the Protestant clergy and he was generally hated by the people. The Monmouth Uprising the Bloody Assizes of Judge Jeffreys after when more than 200 rebels were hanged, drawn and quartered, and 800 transported to the West Indies to work on the sugar plantations all happened during his reign.

Parliament asked the Dutch prince, William of Orange to take the throne and he did so in 1688 when our Will was 13. King Will landed 450 ships in Torbay in Devon, and with an army 20,000 strong, including many deserters from James’ army, he marched into London and effected the Glorious Revolution. William was married to James II’s protestant daughter Mary, and they ruled together until she died in 1694. James plotted to regain the throne and in 1689 landed in Ireland where William defeated James at the Battle of the Boyne and James fled again to France, as guest of Louis XIV.

Then came Anne, whose tenure started in 1702 when our Will was 27. She was the second daughter of James II and during her reign the United Kingdom of Great Britain was created by the Union of England and Scotland. Probably Scottish people haven’t forgiven her.

After Anne’s death in 1714 when our Will was 39 yrs old the succession went to the nearest Protestant relative of the Stuart line. This was Sophia, daughter of Elizabeth of Bohemia, James I ‘s only daughter, but she died a few weeks before Anne and so the throne passed to her son George. He was 54 yrs old lived happily in Hanover, Germany. He turned up with 18 cooks and 2 mistresses and couldn’t speak a word of English. Sir Robert Walpole became Britain’s first Prime Minister and ran the country for him. A year later in 1715 the Jacobites (followers of James Stuart, son of James II) attempted to supplant George, but the attempt failed. George spent little time in England – he preferred his beloved Hanover.

George I died in 1727 and in came his son George II who at least could speak English, though Walpole still ran the country. Our Will was 52 by then and only had 10 years left to live, so he missed out on the second attempt by the Jacobites to restore a Stuart to the throne in 1745 when they had their Bonnie Prince Charlie moment and got slaughtered at Culloden Moor by the army under the Duke of Cumberland, known as ‘Butcher’ Cumberland.

Impossible of course, to know how the historic events affected our Will throughout his life, and the villagers, if at all. But that’s what happens when you’re walking through and looking at the past, you can’t help but wonder!

Next time we’ll have a look at the Castle, or what’s left of it!

Stay tooned folks!

😊 📷

49 thoughts on “St John the Baptist Church, Edlingham May 2022

  1. Lovely church. The history of Scotland is not my specialist subject, but I’m sure I read somewhere that the country was bankrupt and only too glad to join the union, as England paid off its massive debt.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A beautiful church. I love the old plaques—and couldn’t help noticing gravestones in the top photo. I bet those go back a-ways!
    The history is fascinating too. I always learn so much from your posts, Fraggle! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Scots are still pesky! At least little Nicola is. I am seriously considering changing my name by deed poll. I like the sound of Peter De Crespigny-Buckle. Though that might mean a change of blog name too. (Beetley De Buckle?)
    Great photos as always.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. If I understood well the descendants of the Stuarts are in Spain, with quite a lot of titles and nobility privileges. Nice simple architecture, very human proportions. Thank you, fragglerocking.

    Liked by 1 person

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