Easby Abbey

Following on from our trip to Richmond Castle, Sophie and I went a mile and a half down the road to the ruins of Easby Abbey, and as you know, before we get to the pictures, we must first do

The History Bit 🍪 ☕️

Nobby

Easby Abbey, or The Abbey of St.Agatha is one of the best preserved monsteries of the Premonstratensian order. Premonstratensian is a bit of a mouthful, and I’d never heard of it so in case I’m not the only one here’s a quick run down of what it was/is. It’s full title is The Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré, also known as the Norbertines (sounds like a grunge pop group) and in Britain and Ireland the White Canons, on account of the canons wearing white habits.

Founded in 1120 by Norbert of Xanten (which is in Germany). Norbert has nothing to do with Easby Abbey per se, but he’s an interesting chap so lets dig a bit deeper into his history. Nobby’s Dad, Heribert, Count of Gennep, was a member of the high nobility of the Holy Roman Empire and related to the imperial house and also to the House of Lorraine. Because of the family connections, he was ordained as clergy to the church of St. Victor at Xanten, wherein his only job was to chant the Divine Office. Nobby wasn’t up for that so much and paid someone else a small fee to do it for him while he went off to become a councillor to the emperor Henry V in Cologne. The salaries he got from the Xanten church and the royal treasury allowed him to live in the style of the nobility of the times.

He quite liked living high on the hog for not so much work, and managed to avoid ordination as a priest and also turned down the chance to become a Bishop of Cambrai in 1113. But two years later, Nobby had a near death experience whilst riding his horse to Verdun. A thunderbolt from a storm struck near his horses feet, naturally the horse threw him and he lay unconscious for nearly an hour. Nobby saw this as a wake up call, gave up his posh life at court and returned to his church in Xanten to live a life of penance placing himself under the direction of Cono, Abbot of St Sigeberg. In gratitude to Cono Nobby founded the Abbey of Fürstenberg in 1115, endowed it with some of his property and gave it over to Cono and his Benedictine successors, which was jolly nice of him I think.

Nobby was 35 years old at this point and soon accepted ordination as a priest and became a great devotee of the Eucharist and Our Lady. He adopted a lifestyle of ascetism, (adopting a frugal lifestyle, characterised by the renunciation of material possessions and physical pleasures, and also spending time fasting while concentrating on the practice of religion or reflection upon spiritual matters.) Unfortunately his ascetism was so fierce it killed his first three disciples. 🙄 He tried to reform the canons of Xanten, but in light of not wanting to starve to death, they declined and denounced him to some council or other, whereupon Nobby resigned his positions, and sold up his properties to give to the poor. Off he went to visit Pope Gelasius II who gave Nobby permission to wander as an itinerate preacher so he trundled around Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and northern France, where he did some unspecified miracles. Along the way, in many settlements he visited he found a demoralised clergy, often lonely chaps, feeling abandoned by the official church, and practicing what’s known as concubinage, which means they were indulging in matters of bodily naughtiness with ladies they could not marry.

He also became acquainted with the Cistercian administrative system that created an international federation of monasteries with a fair amount of centralized power, though local houses had a certain amount of independence. These reforms, written up in their “Charter of Charity” would affect him significantly in his own future work. Nobby gained a lot of acolytes and founded houses of his order all over the shop, firstly in Premontre, as well as becoming the Apostle of Antwerp after combatting a heretical preacher called Tanchelm. He became the Archbishop of Magdeburg where he survived a few assassination attempts whilst reforming the lax discipline of his see. In 1126 and in his last years, he was chancellor and adviser to Lothair II, the Holy Roman Emperor, persuading him to lead an army in 1133 to Rome to restore Innocent to the papacy.

Nobby died in 1134, and initially buried in Magdeburg. The abbot of Strahov in Prague was able to claim the body after a few problems such as Magdeburg turning protestant and military fisticuffs and such like. He is now buried there in a glass fronted tomb and was canonised by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, so is now Saint Nobby.

So back to Easby and it is listed in the Domesday survey of 1086 as ‘Asebi’, which was held by Enisan Murdac, an important local landowner who was a vassal of Alan le Roux or ‘the Red’, Earl of Richmond (c 1040–1093) whomst you may remember from the History Bit re: Richmond Castle.

The abbey of St Agatha at Easby was founded in about 1152 by Roald, constable or principal officer of Richmond. It’s thought he was the son of Hasculfus Musard, lord of Tansor in Northamptonshire and of estates in Oxfordshire. He established Easby as a Premonstratensian monastery, only the third such house to be founded in England. In the process, the existing minster community was probably absorbed into the new abbey.

Roald endowed a modest bit of land to Easby which rose slowly, over the centuries and there are over 100 charters documenting it’s rise. Sheep farming seems to have been their main income. Not much is known about the early buildings of the monstery, but there is a re-used 12th century doorway in the west range of the cloister, and surviving fragments of the abbey church probably dating from 1170 or 80. In the 12th and 13th centuries the monastery prospered, with the increase of more Canons and the replacing of the original buildings on a grand scale. In 1198 Egglestone Abbey in nearby Teesdale was founded as Easby’s only daughter house.

During this time Roald’s descendents kept hold of the constableship of Richmond going all lah-de-dah and styling themselves De Burton or De Richmond, but then in the late 13th and 14th centuries they started to sell off their estates for unknown reasons.

In come the Scropes of Bolton, a family from Wensleydale, and landowners of knightly rank. They made the abbey their buriel place and it’s most likely they paid for an extension to the chancel in the 14th century. In 1392 Sir Richard Scrope the 1st Baron of Bolton granted land to the Abbey and it was substantially enlarged. Sir Richard served King Richard II and also fought in the Battle of Crécy under the Black Prince, (Richard II’s Daddy). He had been made Lord Chancellor in 1378, trying to stop Richard II spending all the treasury dosh on wars against the Pesky French, but resigned in 1380 when the government collapsed after all the military failures in France. He regained the position after the Peasants Revolt that had started then, but was sacked by King Richard for non-cooperation in 1382, so went off back to Bolton and rebuilt his castle there. He had a 4 year long dispute with Sir Robert Grosvenor over his armorial bearings for the right for his shield to be emblazoned “Azure, a bend Or.” A court of chivalry decided in his favour, with Geoffrey Chaucer gave evidence in his favour. Although his son William had been executed by King Henry IV for supporting the deposed King Richard, Henry held Sir Richard in high regard and allowed him to keep his lands and titles. He died in 1403 and was buried at Easby Abbey.

A good deal is known about the abbey between 1478 and 1500 when the abbey was subject to inspections on the state of it’s community. Richard Redman the Abbot of Shap and later the Bishop of Ely was the principal of the Premonstratensians in England and he recorded any goings on. In 1482 he discovered a canon called John Nym had run away after being accused of improper bodily naughtiness with a widow, Elizabeth Swales. Redman wanted him found and to face a tribunal, which he was and he did, where he was exonerated. By 1494 he was the Abbot in charge. Redman also observed that although the Abbey was in debt, the buildings were well maintained and food was provided.

In the 16th century little is known about the abbey, but in 1535 the then Abbot, Robert Bampton, drew up a document restating the rights of the Scropes as patrons. Round about this time there were rumours that Englands monasteries would be suppressed and it’s thought he issued this document to obtain the Scropes support for keeping the monastery intact.

That was a vain hope in the end, as the year after Easby Abbey was closed. Their were only 11 canons left by then, so the abbey and it’s lands were let to Lord Scrope of Bolton for £300. Also by this time Richmond was taking a major part in the Pilgrimage of Grace, whereby the north rose up in support of the monasteries. That went tit’s up and by Springtime 1537 the leaders of the uprising had missed the opportunity to defeat the Crown’s forces. It was, of course, Henry VIII in charge at this time, and he was well miffed about the uprising. His pal the Duke of Norfolk was tasked with crushing the rebels, and Henry wrote to him saying “at your repair to … St Agatha and such other places as have made resistance … you shall without pity or circumstance … cause the monks to be tied up [hanged] without further delay. Vengeance was a thing with Henry.

The Abbey was returned to the Scropes but by 1538 most of the buildings had been demolished and the lead roofing stripped. The Scropes gave up the lease in 1550 and the abbey and estates went through several pairs of hands before another Lord Scrope, Henry, bought it back in 1579. There’s no evidence of any repairs being done to the Abbey between the 16th and 18th centuries and an engraving of it in 1721 sees it not much different from it’s present state.

The Scropes passed it on through the family until the death of Lord Emmanuel Scrope in 1630. His daughter Annabel married John Grubham Howe and so the estate passed into the Howe family. In 1700 Sir Scrope Howe (way to go combining the names!) sold it to Bartholomew Burton and then it passed through several different hands until 1816 when Robert Jaques bought it.

Late 18th century and 19th the abbey became known for being a romantic ruin and was painted by several artists including JMW Turner between 1816-18. Then in the 19th century it became the plaything of antiquarians, and Sir William St John Hope partially excavated it in 1885-6. It was still owned by the Jaques family up until 1930 when it was taken over by the Ministry of Works.

And some pictures I took of it to finish up with.

The graveyard

refs:-

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/easby-abbey/history/

https://www.britainexpress.com/counties/yorkshire/abbeys/easby.htm

Bishopwearmouth Cemetery ~ March 2020

This was Sophie’s and my last outing this year, just after the keep 2 meters apart advice and just prior to the total lockdown. Because we couldn’t go anywhere in the car, we met up near where Sophie lives, at the Bishopwearmouth Cemetary. A quite appropriate visit for the time, as we will see in

The History Bit. ☕️ 🍪

Between 1817 and 1860 the world had 3 cholera pandemics, but for our purposes we are looking at the 2nd one. After dying down by 1824, historians believe the first pandemic hung about in Indonesia and the Phillipines having started out along the Ganges Delta in India. From there it spread along trade routes and reached China by 1828, with Iran being overtaken with it from it’s route through Afghanistan in 1829. Also in ’29 it reached the Ural Mountains, and the first case in Orenburg, Russia. There were 3500 cases including 865 fatal ones in Orenburg province.

 By 1831, the epidemic had infiltrated Russia’s main cities and towns. 250,000 cases of cholera and 100,000 deaths were reported in Russia. Russian soldiers then took the disease to Poland during the Polish-Russian war (1830-1831). Between 16 May and 20 August 1831 4,734 people fell ill and 2,524 died in Warsaw alone. The epidemic reached Great Britain in 1831 when a passenger ship from the Baltic brought it to Sunderland, then Gateshead, Newcastle, and on to London where the first cases occurred on the river, mostly on colliers from the Tyne. On it went to Paris, 20,000 died (out of a population of 650,000), with about 100,000 deaths in all of France. By 1832 it had reached Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia in Canada and Detroit and New York City in the USA, getting to the Pacific coast by 1834.

The British Government had issued quarantine orders for ships sailing from Russia to British ports and issued orders recommending the burning of “decayed articles, such as rags, cordage, papers, old clothes, hangings…filth of every description removed, clothing and furniture should be submitted to copious effusions of water, and boiled in a strong ley (lye); drains and privies thoroughly cleansed by streams of water and chloride of lime…free and continued admission of fresh air to all parts of the house and furniture should be enjoined for at least a week” as preventive action. However the ship arriving at Sunderland was allowed to dock because the port authorities objected to, and therefore ignored, instructions from the government. Well that’s Mackem’s for you.

Bishopwearmouth Cemetery was built as a direct result of the epidemic, as the subsequent overcrowding in churchyards became untenable. It opened at the same time as another new cemetary, Mere Knowles (which you may remember from a previous post, but probably not! 🙂 ) in 1856. Bishopwearmouth Cemetery soon became Sunderland’s main buriel site and separate areas were allocated for all religious denominations. It has been extended a couple of times and now covers 80 acres.

So on with some pictures!

Quaker Buriel Ground
In 1850 the ‘Society of Friends’ agreed for the first time to place stones over the graves of their brethren, with names in full with the date of their death inscribed on them, as prior to 1850 grave markers were not deemed necessary by strict Quaker doctrine.
‘Erected in loving remembrance of Gunner James William Rutherford Trench Mortar Battery Royal Horse Artillery. The beloved son of Thomas and Marie Rutherford who died at Rouen August 1st 1916 from the result of wounds received at Delville Wood.

Martini Maccomo has been recorded as coming from Angola, or the West Indies, or Liverpool, and was also described as a Zulu! His age is also not set in stone. Whatever, it is known that he joined William Manders’ Grand National Mammoth Menagerie in late 1857 at the Greenwich Fair in South East London. Maccomo was advertised as ‘the African Wild Beast Tamer’, ‘Angola’s Mighty Czar of All Lion Tamers’, ‘the Black Diamond of Manders’ Menagerie’,’the Dark Pearl of Great Price’, ‘the most talented and renowned Sable Artiste in Christendom’ and ‘The Hero of a Thousand Combats’. For all those great sobriquets I am not sure he was actually very good at his job! In 1860, at a performance in Great Yarmouth a lion attacked Maccomo and his pistol was accidentally fired into the audience, resulting in a piece of wadding becoming lodged in the eye of a local carpenter named Gillings. In the resulting case of Gillings v. Manders, the plaintiff was awarded £150 in damages. Then in Liverpool in 1861 he got his hand stuck in the mouth of a Bengal Tigress, who wouldn’t let go until an assistant pressed a hot iron bar against her teeth. The following year in Norwich a lion bit his hand and dragged him along the floor, and he lost part of a finger. Finally, in Sunderland in 1869 a lion called Wallace had had enough of him and also attacked him, apparently Maccomo used whips, pistols and knuckledusters during his act. Maccomo contracted rheumatic fever and died in the Palatine Hotel in 1871, where he was staying. Four years later Wallace died too, and is now displayed to this day in Sunderland Museum. Mackem’s I tell you! 🙄

Our days begin with trouble here
our life is but a span
and cruel death is always near
so frail a thing is man.

Cheery little epitaph, and I was disappointed the gravestone didn’t have a carved lion on it!

Thomas Scott Turnbull, the son of saddler John Turnbull, was born in Newcastle on October 28, 1825. After being educated at St Mary’s School, Newcastle, he went to work for “Dunn and Bainbridge” – then the largest drapery firm in Newcastle. Turnbull soon rose to a high position, later gaining further experience of the trade by working in several large commercial houses in London before moving to Sunderland in 1850 and starting his own business. He was extremely forward-thinking, introducing a system of “small profits and quick returns” at a time when established drapers gave long credit. From humble beginnings, he built up his Sunderland-based business “Albion House” into one of the largest drapery houses in Northern England. At his death, it occupied 122-126 High Street West, Sunderland, and the premises included sleeping and dining accommodation for 160 assistants, plus a library of nearly 2,500 volumes for their use. He went into politics as a Liberal and became Mayor of Sunderland in November 1880, but died of Typhoid Fever the following year.

‘A short and painful illness’
I forgot to remember whose grave this was, but it’s beautiful.

I found a few graves with mosaic inlays, so I had to do them of course!

This one intrigued me as it has an ornate carved panel, which I think must have been of brass, bronze or copper, as it was covered in verdigris

This is the detail shot, would be nice to know the story behind it.

The cemetery is nicely looked after, lots of daffodils lining the paths,

There are memorials on trees, and you can see there is a section for commonwealth war graves behind this one.

and a section for children’s graves, always sad.

The chapels are cordoned off for safety and. haven’t been in use for a long time.

So that is the last outing for Sophie and me, who knows when the next one will be. Still, Sunday history lessons will continue, so stay tooned! 🙂

refs: http://www.historyhome.co.uk ~ Cholera comes to Britain.

http://www.wikipedia. ~ Bishopwearmouth Cemetery, Martini Maccomo. Cholera Epidemic.

Howick Gardens ~ February 2020

Sophie and I have visited Howick Gardens a couple of times prior to this post, in October 2015 and July 2017, but there’s something different happening there all year round, and this time we went to see the snowdrops.

If you want the history of the gardens it’s in the first link there, if not, on with the pretty pictures!

Although it was quite cold, we had a clear blue sky, and the snowdrops were out in force. I had my FujiXT2 + my 16mm fujinon & my helios lens, with me and my Canon EOS 100 FN with a roll of portra 400 in it.

fuji + 16mm

It was lovely to see the snowdrops carpeting everywhere, and to hear the birds singing, and nice to be out in the fresh air.

canon
Canon ~ close up.
Fuji + helios

As we walked around the estate, we got a fab view of the Hall.

Fuji + 16mm

There is a church in the grounds

fuji + 16mm

and a chap on his hands and knees amongst the grave stones, macro-ing the snowdrops.

Canon

Such a sad grave stone in the cemetery

Ellen aged 11 mths 1901, Euphemia 4 mths 1908, David aged 8 1914.
Fuji + helios
Fuji + helios.

Just a short one today, nice to remember being out and about and not have to stop breathing when coming across other out and abouters!

Tynemouth Castle & Priory ~ November 2019

A cold but sunny day had Sophie and I opt for a short outing nearby to Tynemouth Priory.

Get your cuppa ready, here comes

The History Bit. *Long post alert* skimmers and those of you with short attention spans should move right along to the pictures 🙂

Firstly, as fabulous as I am, condensing 2000 years of convoluted Northumbrian history in one blog post is not an easy task, so bear with me and a potted version will have to suffice.

The Priory stands on a headland known by ancient Britains as Pen Bal Crag, the literal translation of that is, unsurprisingly ‘The head of the rampart on the rock’. It overlooks the North Sea and the River Tyne, and combined with Tynemouth Castle was once one of the largest fortified areas in England. The moated castle towers, gatehouse and keep are incorporated into the ruins of a Benedictine priory, where the early Kings of Northumbria were buried. Note for my Colonial brethren, before we were a United Kingdom, we were a few small kingdoms, a bit like Game of Thrones. Without the Dragons, although maybe…. but that’s a story for another day! Onwards McDuff….

Not much is known about it’s early origins, although some Roman stones were found at the site, there’s no other evidence to say they were in occupation there. So we have to start in the 7th century when Edwin of Northumbria possibly founded the priory.

Britain peoples circa 600

Edwin, (586 – 12 October 632/633) was King of Deira and Bernicia which you can see on the map there. They later became Northumbria, which still exists though the borders are different now, and the Priory is now in Tyne & Wear. He was King from 616 until he was killed by Penda, King of Mercia, and Cadwallon ap Cadfan, the pesky Welsh King of Gwynedd, in the Battle of Hatfield Chase, after which Edwin was venerated as a saint. He had converted to Christianity and was baptised in 627. He’s an interesting chap, but it’s only possible he founded the priory, so we’ll leave him there.

In 634 Oswald, son of the Bernician and later Deiran King Æthelfrith, came to the throne, and united the two into Northumbria after defeating Cadwallon in battle at Heavenfield near Hexam. He was also a Christian convert, and was according to Bede a good and saintly King. Unfortunatley his downfall came about at the hands of the pagan King of Mercia, Penda, who, in 642 defeated and killed Oswald at the Battle of Maserfield in Oswestry, where his body was dismembered and his head and limbs were placed on stakes. He’s a saint too now.

Oswine was next up, his Dad Osric was a cousin of Edwin and a King of Diera, and Oswine’s succession in 644 split Northumbria and they became Diera and Bernicia yet again, with Oswiu, son of Æthelfrith, becoming King in Bernicia. There were 7 years of peace between them, then Oswiu declared war on Oswine. Oswine didn’t want a fight so he scarpered off to his pal Earl Humwald who lived in North Yorkshire, but Humwald betrayed him and gave him over to Oswiu’s soldiers, who promptly killed him. Oswine was buried at Tynemouth, with his relics later being transferred to the Priory. And guess what, he’s another Saint! (In 1103 the Bishop of Durham, Ralph Flambard took the remains from the Priory chapel, which was in disrepair, and interred them in St.Albans Abbey, Hertfordshire. A long way from home).

Onwards to 789-790 when Osred II was King in Northumbria but for a very short time. He was deposed in favour of Æthelred and exiled to the Isle of Man. For some reason he returned in 792 when the Anglo Saxon Chronicle reports that he was “apprehended and slain on the eighteenth day before the calends ( 1st day of every month) of October. His body was deposited at Tynemouth Priory.

Cracking on to 800 and the pesky Danes plundered the Priory, after which the monks there fortified the place enough to deter the Danes next visit in 832. But 3 years later, back they came and massacred the Nuns of St.Hildas who had gone there for safety, and destroyed the church and monastery. They plundered the Priory again in 870, and destroyed it in 875, leaving only the small parish church of St.Marys.

On to the reign of King Edward the Confessor who ruled from 1042 – 1066 when Tostig Godwinson, Earl of Northumberland made Tynemouth his fortress. The priory by now was abandoned, and St. Oswine’s buriel place was forgotten. Now St.Oswine was fed up of being forgotten so he appeared to a hermit novice monk living at the priory and showed him where to find his tomb, so he was re-discovered in 1065. Tostig decided to re-found the Priory, but got himself killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066 so that idea went tits up.

The third King to be buried at the Priory was Malcolm III, King of Scotland from  1058 to 1093.. After ravaging Northumberland in 1093, due to a dispute with King William Rufus ( “the Red”, king of the English (1087–1100) he was ambushed on his way back North by Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumbria, who was mightily naffed off that Malcolm had devastated his lands. The ambush occurred near Alnwick, on 13th November 1093, and Malcolm was slain by Arkil Morel, steward of Bambrough Castle. This became known as the Battle of Alnwick. Malcolm’s body was buried at Tynemouth Priory, but later sent North to Dunfermline Abbey when his son Alexander reigned. Shakespear based Malcolm in Macbeth on this King Malcolm.

Two years later and Robert de Mowbray took refuge in Tynemouth Castle after rebelling against King William II. The King beseiged it and Mowbray was dragged from there and imprisoned for life for treason. In 1110 a new church was completed on the site. It is thought that a castle consisting of earthen ramparts and a wooden stockade was already in place by 1095. The stone building we can see now didn’t happen until 1296 when the Prior applied for and was granted royal permission to surround the monastery with walls of stone, with a gatehouse and barbican being added on the landward side in 1390.

A little before then in 1312 King Edward II and his pet sycophant and possible boyfriend Piers Gaveston took refuge in the castle before fleeing to Scarborough Castle by sea. His  illegitimate son Adam Fitzroy was buried at the Priory on 30th September 1322.

Then along came Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries. Tynemouth Priory copped it in 1538 when a chap called Robert Blakeney would be the last Prior. There were 15 monks and 3 novices living there as well, but the Priory and it’s lands were taken over by Henry and gifted to Sir Thomas Hilton. The monastery was dismantled but the Prior’s house was left standing. Henry kept the castle though and in 1545 new artillery fortifications commenced with the advice from Sir Richard Lee, Henry’s military engineer, and two Italian engineers, Gian Tommaso Scala and Antonio da Bergamo. Gunports were put in place in the castle walls.

In 1564 when his father was guardian of the castle, Henry Percy, the 9th Earl of Northumberland was born in the castle. His Dad, the 8th Earl, was responsible for maintaining the navigation light, a coal fired brazier on top of one of the castle turrets. It’s not known when that practice began but is mentioned in a source in 1582. The Earl and his successors in that office were entitled to receive dues from passing ships in return. Unfortunately the stairs up to the turret collapsed in 1559 preventing the fire from being lit, so in 1665 the then Governor, Colonel Villiers obtained a grant of 1s toll from every English ship and 3s from every foreign ship for the maintenance of the light, and built a new lighthouse at the north-east corner of the Castle promontory. It was rebuilt in 1775 and by 1807 had upgraded from coal fire to a revolving red light via an oil fired argand light in 1802. It was demolished in 1898 having been superceded by St.Mary’s Lighthouse in Whitley Bay to the north.

So modern times now, we’re nearly at the end. (yay!) At the end of the 19th century new buildings and barracks had been added to the castle though many were removed after a fire in 1936. In WW2 it was used as a coastal defence installation to guard the mouth of the Tyne. Restored sections are open to the public. More recently the modern buildings of Her Majesty’s Coastguard were on site and opened by Prince Charles in 1990. The coastguard station was closed in 2001, being replaced by digital equipment at a Bridlington station that can monitor the sea from Berwick to the Humber Estuary. New technology sweeping away the past, but it was always thus.

And that’s the lot, it’s now managed by English Heritage.

Well done whoever got to the end, you are my very favourite visitor 😘

So here we go walking up to the site, and there’s the castle and walls directly ahead, looks imposing. Well I was imposed anyhoo.

Into the keep where there’s a little side room you get your ticket, or show your card if you’re a English Heritage member (I am).

A tantalising view of the Priory before you go through the iron gate

it looks so chunky and indestructable, even though it’s destructed!

then you go through the arch and to the left

to the right

and then through the arch you come to the KAPOW view, which I just had to do in B&W

there’s a little archway and door you can see at the bottom there

which leads to the 15th Century Oratory of St.Mary, or the Percy Chapel. It has a ceiling decorated with numerous coats of arms and other symbols, stained-glass side windows, and a small rose window in the east wall, above the altar.

This is the view of it looking back, you can see the little chapel all intact.

Interesting details on the boards around the monastery.

That will do I think, but there are more photo’s of the Priory HERE and this includes the restored gun battery and cannon.

All pics are embiggenable with a click.

refs:- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tynemouth_Castle_and_Priory

https://www.twsitelines.info/SMR/730

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/tynemouth-priory-and-castle/

Staindrop and St.Mary’s Church – August 2019

After Sophie and I had finished photographing the butterflies at Raby Castle, we decided to go and have lunch in the nearby village of Staindrop, and visit the church there. Staindrops earliest history begins in Neolithic times, though there is little left to see of that as the current village is built on top of it. Nearby roads and settlements bear evidence of it’s expansion in Roman times.

The History Bit

It is known that the first church in Staindrop was a saxon building made around 771 when Alhred was the King of Northumberland, but not much else is known about it as the recorded history starts in the early 11th century when King Canute (yes the guy who commanded the tide to go back out) had a manor in Staindrop. This and the church he gave to the newly founded priory at Durham . This early church was very small, and Canute had it enlarged by adding a tower and extending the nave.

For the next 100 years the church was yoyo’d between the Bishop and the Monastery of Durham, as both wanted to control the wealth and lands of the area. Then in 1131 the Manor and lands were granted to Dolfin the son of Uchtred (descended from the old Earls of Northumberland and Kings of Alba). Dolfin became Lord Raby which suggested that the manor at Staindrop was being supplanted by one at Raby, which ultimately became Raby Castle.

Dolfins son Maldred took over when Dad died, and he enlarged the church by adding long narrow aisles to each side of the nave, this entailed removing the outer walls.  When Maldred died his son Robert married the wealthy Norman heiress Isabelle Neville, and their son Geoffrey took on the Neville name.

The History of the Nevilles at Raby has been covered in my posts on Raby Castle Here & Here so I’ll leave it up to you if you want to find out more.

The church benefitted nicely from the expanded wealth brought by the Nevilles.  From 1250 – 1260 major renovations went on, rebuilding and heightening of the tower, and adding transepts and a high pitched roof and lancet windows. The aisles were extended westward and a double tiered vestry built with an upper room serving as a hermit’s cell.  (John de Cameva is recorded as hermit of Staindrop in 1336).

In 1343 Ralph the 2nd Baron Neville (he of the battle of Nevilles Cross – see above links) was granted a license to build three chapels in the church,  which entailed the South aisle and transept being taken down and rebuilt with Ashlar stonework. The grant shows that the church was originally dedicated to St.Gregory, but after the reformation, St.Mary became more popular. As well as the chapels, a little vestry was built to serve these and the south porch created.  This area provided the burial space for his mother and later Neville Ladies.

The effigy of Euphemia de Clavering can be found here under an elaborate canopy in the South Wall.

Not sure why I cut off her head, but at least I got the doggies 😀

The head end 🙂

In 1849, when restoration work was going on the figure of Isabella Neville was found, and now her effigy lies next to that of Euphemia (cracking name that!).

Lady Isabelle and a Neville child, not sure who.

In 1408, Ralph’s grandson, also Ralph (here we go again, see links if confused 🙂 ) got a licence to establish a college at Staindrop.  It was sited on the North side of the Churchyard where the mausoleum now stands.

mausoleum

And due to the kudos that having a college brought, Ralph was able to erect the chancel choir pews (with misericords), whilst retaining the 14th Century screen.

This meant making a lot of alterations to the roof and also raising the height and changing the dimensions of the tower by the addition of a new chamber.

This made the building appear oddly out of balance, with a single transept on the north and the oversized aisle on the South. so sometime in the 15th Century the North wall was taken down and moved Northward.

 

At the east end of the chancel is a sedilia (a group of stone seats for clergy in the south chancel wall of a church, usually three in number and often canopied and decorated.)

sedilia

In this next picture you can see a little window high up in the wall on the left, this is the hermits window, where he could look down on the church service and not be observed. So sneaky these hermits.

The chancel with wooden altar, and hermit window high on the left wall.

The reformation came, in the 1500’s and as the Nevilles fortunes waned, the church lost its benefactors. The college was dissolved, the church fell into disrepair and it’s buildings and furnishings were plundered.

But then in 1626 Sir Henry Vane came to the rescue! An important member of the Royal Household, Charles 1st sold Raby Castle to him and granted his petitioned to become lay Rector of Staindrop.  Henry and his descendants saved the church,. The altar which was destroyed in the reformation was replaced with a wooden table which you can just about see in the picture above and the ancient fabric of the church was retained by making the necessary repairs.

In the early 1900’s the chancel got a new floor made of local Frosterly marble and new panelling around the sanctuary incorporating the reredos. 

The tombs of the church were also moved to their current locations at this time. In the South West corner will be found the large alabaster tomb of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmoreland who died in 1425, and his two wives – Margaret Stafford, daughter of Hugh, Earl of Stafford, and Joan Beaufort, daughter of John of Gaunt and half sister of Henry IV.

Their daughter Cecily known as the Rose of Raby married Richard Duke of York and was the mother of Edward IV and Richard III and from whom every British monarch is descended.

Alongside there is an oak tomb which is that of Henry Neville who died in 1564, and his two wives, Anne, daughter of the Earl of Rutland, and Jane, daughter of Sir Richard Chalmondeley.  The children of the marriage are carved in niches around the tomb.

His son Charles helped lead the Rising of the North for which he was attainted and the lands taken by the crown.

Between them is an older stone Effigy to Margery 2nd wife of Ralph Lord Neville c1343. The tomb slab is mounted on 4 Lions.

In the North West corner the tombs are memorials to the Vane family.  The central effigy is that of William Harry Vane, 1st Duke of Cleveland.

It was such a surprise to come across all these effigies and tombs in this ordinary looking church. I also noticed a weird thing sticking high up on a wall in the chancel, above the sedilia

I asked a lady who was there arranging the flowers for Sunday, and she told me it was a crusaders helmet, and they had rested at the church and one left his behind. So they mounted it high up as it’s possibly quite valuable and they don’t want it stolen.  The church and it’s contents are not alluded to in Raby Castle, and the flower lady said they were a bit miffed that the castle doesn’t promote them, they have to go cap in hand to English Heritage to get any repairs done, and there’s a fair bit needs doing. It would be nice if the people at the castle let visitors know that this little church held so much of interest, and the visitors could then donate! We did, of course.

All pictures by me and embiggenable with a click.
A few more pictures of the interior and graveyard HERE

ref:-https://www.stmarysstaindrop.org.uk

Embleton Church ~ April 2019

After Sophie and I had our walk on Embleton Beach we decided to have a look around Embleton Church.

Embleton Church Tower

Known as the Church of the Holy Trinity, the oldest part of it is the lowest level of the tower, and is the only identifiable bit from the 12th century, and it has two blocked Norman windows. At this point in time the church would have had a Nave without aisles and a chancel only. The aisles were added around 1200. The upper levels of the tower were added in the 14th century. At the top is an open battlement, which is unusual for northern churches.

As you enter through the South Porch which dates from the 15th century, there are some old tomb slabs set into the walls.

The shears to the left of the cross indicate a woman’s burial.

There is also a lovely green man carved boss carved into the ceiling of the porch.

The church has undergone many restorations, especially in the 1800’s. In 1803 the mediaeval chancel was replaced by a plain classical one with a flat ceiling. You can see in the picture below an outline of a blocked window which would have looked out over the chancel roof. The last time the chancel was replaced in 1887 the axis of the chancel was, and remains, inclined.  No-one seems to know why, but apparently it wasn’t uncommon.

Looking toward the chancel.

looking toward the Nave

At the back of the church is an ornate spiral staircase for the bellringers to climb up into the tower.

Stairway to heaven.

There are some lovely stained glass windows made by Charles Eamer Kempe, a famous glass designer and manufacturer in the 1800’s.

South Aisle- in memory of the Forsters, 1856. (not sure who they were but one was a doctor).

Chancel

The Craster family (no not the incestuous bad guy wildling in G.O.T you know, where Gilly came from) are an ancient family in Northumberland, and you might have seen my previous post on the village of Craster which was owned by the family. The church has a Craster Porch at the north-east end of the north aisle with the Craster arms and memorial slabs.

Shafto Craster Craster. Best. Name. Ever 🙂

We had a look around the graveyard, it had a gorgeous blossom tree,

In 1870 a number of coins were discovered in the churchyard at Embleton. The coins are known as groats. The groat is the traditional name of a long-defunct English and Irish silver coin worth four pence, and also a Scottish coin which was originally worth fourpence, with later issues being valued at eightpence and one shilling. They were minted between the reigns of Edward II and Edward IV, the earliest coin dating to about 1351 and the latest about 1464. I can’t find which museum they are in, but Merton College Oxford have been the patrons of Embleton church since 1274, so it’s conceivable that they have them somewhere, but that’s pure conjecture on my part. Also wondering why M.C Oxford would be a patron of this church, but can’t find anything on it as yet.

So that’s it for Embleton!

full album can be viewed HERE

Next time we’re starting a day out on a riverside walk at Allen Banks, a hidden Norman church, and the convergence of the Rivers Tyne.

Stay Tooned!

refs :– Leaflet from Embleton Church,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_Holy_Trinity,_Embleton

 

St Cuthberts Church ~ March 2019

The History bit

The Domesday Book, is a manuscript record of the “Great Survey” of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William the Conqueror. Both Ormesby Hall, and St Cuthbert’s church, are mentioned in this record and listed as belonging to ‘Orme’, to whose name the suffix ‘by’ (the Viking word for habitation or dwelling place) was added to make Ormesby.  There has been then, a church on this site for at least 933 years, maybe more. Unfortunately the church as it stands today has been largely rebuilt between 1875 and 1907 to designs in the Decorated Style (gothic) by architects W. S. & W.L. Hicks. What was interesting to Sophie and me was that they incorporated the Anglo-Saxon foundations, carved work and re-dressed masonry from the 12th-century church into the building.

Of course we can’t possibly be steeped in North East ancient history without St. Cuthbert getting in on the act (hence the amount of St.Cuthbert churches up here), and according to the church’s own web site ‘It is said that St Cuthbert’s body rested here during the movement of his body about Northumbria in the 9th Century.’ St Cuthbert sure got around a lot after he died in 687!

You can read my history of St Cuthbert’s post-death journey here.

On with the pictures now.

The tower and spire, housing the ring of 8 bells, was only completed in 1907.

There are some elaborate crosses in the church yard, decorated in a medieval style.

A path runs through the churchyard and the bottom entrance has an oak lych gate.

We came across a chap digging a hole, so I asked if he was digging a grave, but he was just doing upkeep of the grounds, and planting things.

There I was, diggin’ an ‘ole… anyone remember Bernard Cribbins? 🙂

Mr.Digger

Mr.Digger’s dog.

Mister Digger was very nice and chatted on to us about the church yard. We were quite excited when he told us there was an Anglo-Saxon grave in the grounds, and we asked to see it.

? Anglo-Saxon grave

He explained that they’ve allowed it to get overgrown, and keep it that way, as some people are not averse to sticking their hands through cracks in the stonework to steal bones. 🙄 The headstone is top right in this picture. So a bit disappointing we couldn’t make much of it out.

There were of course less old but still old graves,

Sarah, died aged 23 on 6th September 1793

possibly Bess, died 1734

?Damars/Damats/Damaris  Smith died November 1710

I’ve tried researching the name Damars or Damarts, which is what it looks like to me, but think it’s actually meant to be Damaris, which is a girls name  used here in the 1700’s, and is still in use in the USA.  It is the name of a woman mentioned in a single verse in Acts of the Apostles (17:34) as one of those present when Paul of Tarsus preached in Athens in front of the Athenian Areopagus in c. AD 55. Together with Dionysius the Areopagite she embraced the Christian faith following Paul’s speech. I think biblical names were a thing back then.

Philip, son of Philip & Jane Snowdon, who departed life in the 3rd year of his age.On the 1st October 1767

I’ll finish up with some pictures of the 12th century stones incorporated into the rebuilt church.

There were several christenings going on in the church so we didn’t intrude, but would have loved to see what they had on the inside!

all picture are embiggenable with a click.

Full album can be found here.

references:

Home


https://www.behindthename.com
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ormesby#St_Cuthbert%27s_Church

Seaham ~ part 3 ~ St.Mary’s

The Church of St.Mary The Virgin, is on the list of the top 20 oldest churches in Britain.  It’s also the only surviving building of the original Saxon Village of Seaham Harbour. (now just Seaham). It was founded by King Æthelstan in 930AD and has 7th C late Anglo Saxon masonry and early Norman masonry in its nave, and a 13th-century chancel and west tower.  Over the 16th-century porch door is a late 18th-century sundial with an unusual verse, now illegible, which begins: “The natural clockwork by the mighty one wound up at first and ever since has gone…” which doesn’t make much sense as it stands, but that’s all that can be read.

King Æthelstan was our first proper king according to modern historians at least, grandson of Alfred the Great and son of Edward the Elder. At first King of Mercia, he then went on to be King of Wessex too when his brother who was King there died.  In 927 he conquered the Vikings who were ensconced in York and became the first Anglo-Saxon ruler of the whole of England. He also had a pop at Scotland forcing Constantine II to submit to him. Of course neither the Scots or the Vikings were likely to take all this lying down so they all invaded back in 935.
Æthelstan defeated them at the Battle of Brunanburh, a victory which gave him great prestige both in the British Isles and on the Continent. After his death in 939 the Vikings seized back control of York, and it was not finally reconquered until 954.  As well as being a good politician, centralising government, bringing important leading figures to council and arranging his siblings marriages to foreign rulers, he was also very pious, and was known for collecting relics and founding churches.  More legal texts survive from his reign than from any other 10th-century English king and they show his concern about widespread robberies, and the threat they posed to social order. His legal reforms were built on those of his grandfather, and his household was the centre of English learning during his reign, laying the foundation for the Benedictine monastic reform later in the century.

The church was closed when we got there, so we wandered around the gravestones as you do, and took some pictures of course.  The church is now a way North from Seaham as it is today, and overlooks the headland.

View from St.Mary’s

It has some old and interesting graves, if you click through the picture you can read most of them,

Lord Charles Stewart Reginald Vane-Tempest-Stewart, died in October 1899, aged 19. The 2nd son of the 6th Marquess of Londonderry.

I can’t find out what he died of or how, his elder brother was in the army, and survived to become the 7th Marquess, but there’s no mention of military service for Reg. Very mysterious considering his pedigree.

Dear World….

 

Elizabeth in the bloom of life, died age 17 in 1772

 

Thomas Robinson…He was ‘useful’ a lot!

Death in mining explosions was all too common back in the 1800’s.  The Seaham Colliery suffered an underground explosion in 1880 which saw the deaths of upwards of 160 people including surface workers and rescuers.

William Richardson- he had an explosive end…

The enthusiasm for the Volunteer movement following an invasion scare in 1859 saw the creation of many Rifle, Artillery and Engineer Volunteer units composed of part-time soldiers eager to supplement the Regular British Army in time of need. One such unit was the Seaham Artillery Volunteers formed at Seaham in County Durham on 14 March 1860, which became the 2nd (Seaham) Durham Artillery Volunteer Corps’ (AVC).

 

In 1870 there was a head-on collision at Brockley Whins between a coal train and an express passenger train, caused by a pointsman’s error and a lack of interlocking. Mr. Reed died of his injuries sustained there, 2 months later.

 

Next to the church is what used to be the Vicarage, c1830, restored c1990 and was built by Lady Londonderry  for the Rev O J Creswell. No info on him either :/

 

I think it must have been converted into (expensive) appartments now judging by the (expensive) cars parked on it’s drive,

 

So that’s the end of our Seaham trip, numpty me forgot to get a shot of the church itself 🙄 so Sophie has lent me hers at the top of the post.

All pictures are embiggenable, and more photo’s of our day out can be found HERE

Mere Knowles Cemetery~ April 2018 ~Part 2

Part 1 HERE

We noticed that the chapels were not in the most habitable state of being

Indoor arboretum

and in noticing the roofing issues then noticed carved stone heads around the (technical term alert) stone rim thingy that went around it.  There were a lot, so I’ve just chosen the ones I recognised, (see if you agree) and one I don’t but if you know who they are do say…

HRM Queen Elizabeth II?

 

Alec Guiness?

 

Owen Teale ? (Sir Alliser Thorne in GOT) fab Welsh actor.

 

An extra on The Walking Dead??

 

Your turn 🙂

I’m wondering if it’s bad of me to have fun with what are obviously serious religious icons, but I find it hard to be obviously seriously religious these days. And furthermore and forthtoothwith, whilst my googling of the chapels came up with “Lodge and gateway rock faced stone, possibly magnesian limestone from Marsden quarry with ashlar dressings;” and further excruciatingly comprehensive architectural details, nothing was apparent regarding the people who adorn the blessed thing. 🙄

Anyways, we left to return to the car, and while Sophie was macro-ing the wildflowers

wildflowers

I doodled round the corner where I found space set aside for a set of more recent headstones, very different from the old, grey aged stones, as modern headstones are of course, but these were all for a different faith I think, though am not sure. (Another google fail).

Your Love is within our hearts.

They are very similar to the one I got for my Mum, black and gold with a carved lily in it. Though I think the script here is Arabic and my Mum was from Yorkshire. If the people here are of different faiths, it doesn’t matter, the sentiments on their memorials are just the same as always whatever dominations I see on my travels to cemeteries.

Finally, on our way out I liked this old door with its cracked paint, and the light coming through the gates.

You can click on the photo’s for an embiggened experience 🤪

For more fun with heads, there are a few more than I’ve posted 🙂  the full album can be seen HERE

Stay tooned, next time we are off to Alnwick Gardens to see an orchard of rare Japanese Blossom trees. And Other Scintillating stuff! Really!! 😉