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!

😊 📷

Holy Trinity Church Old Bewick ~ March 2022

After we had visited St.Maurice’s Church we drove up the road 15 minutes and turned down a narrow country lane to find the rather lovely Holy Trinity Church settled in a secluded glen.

The History Bit 🍪 ☕️

( Actually a lot of this is supposedly, and apparently, so there’s history and a bit of lore.)

The oldest part of the mostly Norman Church is believed to be 12th century and built by the monks of Tynemouth after  Queen Maud ~ (Matilda of Scotland who was the wife of the Henry I ) gave the Manor of Bewick to Tynemouth Priory in 1107. She did so in memory of her royal father Malcolm Canmore (or Maol Chaluim mac Dhonnchaidh in his native tongue), King of Scotland, who was slain at the Battle of Alnwick in 1093 and buried at Tynemouth. He had snatched the crown of Scotland from Macbeth (the one from Shakespear) in 1054, and in 1091 brought an army south across the border, laying waste to much of Northumberland. Due to the ongoing battles with the pesky Scots in the late 13th century, the church was damaged but restored in the 14th century. There is a possibility that the restoration was done by the husband of a lady who’s effigy can be found in the chancel. She is wearing C14th century costume, and is thought to be the work of sculptors who had a workshop near Alnwick until about 1340. But it is also said to be of Matilda, aka Queen Maud!

A bell dated 1483 was found in the rubble of the vestry suggesting that at this time it had a tower or belfry. Inside the church and porch are several examples of C13th and C14th tomb slabs. Although the church went through more damage around 1640, Ralph Williamson, Lord of the Manor, restored the nave. However, early in the next century, the roof was blown off and the chapel fell to ruin although still used for burials. In 1866 Mr J C Langlands (whose monument stands at the end of the lane) had the church restored, and it opened for services in 1867.

Sophie entering the church grounds. (Contax Aria, Kodak UM 400)

As usual we went hunting for interesting gravestones and found a few..

🥴

Someone took the trouble to work this out!

“In the year of our Lord God 1720, here lieth the body of Roger, who departed this li(f)e at bueck (Bewick) mill race, muera (?died ~ possibly meant mori, latin or less possibly muerte, Spanish) 1720″.

This seemed sad,

so young
? Cap’n Jack 🏴‍☠️

Grand Master Burdon and his wife, the last surviving daughter of Major Thomas Packenham Vandeleur of Belfield, Co. Limerick.

The bushes behind the robin on a cross are not bushes, that’s a full length fallen tree courtesy of Storm Arwen, and a few of the headstones got battered.

Snowdrops and Robin

Going inside there are both anglo saxon and Norman features

the Norman arches of the chancel and apse.
apse

The church was re-roofed in Victorian times, thanks to Mr J.C. Langlands.

nave, roof, and font at the end.
effigy of a lady ? Queen Maud.

So that’s the end of our initial foray into the churches nearest our favourite café in Northumberland. The following week we did two more, and had lunch again 😊 and they’ll be up in the next couple of posts. I bet you’re all agog so stay tooned!

📷 😊

clickable pics for embiggerment.

Full album HERE for last week and this weeks posts.

refs- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matilda_of_Scotland
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_III_of_Scotland
https://www.northernvicar.co.uk/2019/10/26/old-bewick-northumberland-holy-trinity/

Bishop Auckland & Auckland Castle~ February 2020 ~ Part 1

A cold yet sunny day out in February had Sophie and I visiting the newly refurbished castle at Bishop Auckland, so get your ☕️ and 🍪 and we’ll do

The History Bit *LONG POST ALERT*

There’s 1,134 years to get through, and a lot of Bishops,so this will be a potted history (again) and here we go!

King Alfred, sort of.

In 886 King Alfred (last seen forgiving Uhtred in The Last Kingdom series 4 🙂 )created the See (area of a bishop’s ecclesiastical jurisdiction) of Durham when he gifts “all the lands between the Were and the Tine to Saint Cuthbert, and to those who should minister in his church, for ever, by which they may have enough to live upon, and not be forced to struggle with want and necessity.” In 1000, St. Cuthbert is laid to rest in Durham. Bishop Aldhun, previously known as the Bishop of Lindisfarne, becomes the first Bishop of Durham.

1020~1021 Bishop Eadmund is the first Bishop of Durham to live on the site of Auckland Castle.

Willy Conk

1071 WIlliam the Conqueror appoints William Walcher the first non-Englishman to hold that See, being a Norman. Walcher increases his power by purchasing the Earldom of Northumbria in 1076. He is known as the first of the Prince Bishops but was murdered in 1080, which led William to send an army into Northumbria to harry the region again. He’d already harried the North once. We’re always harried up here.

William St-Calais

1081 and Willy Conqueror bestows the Bishopery on a Norman monk, William de St-Calais. Too many Williams I think meself. He worked very closely with Willy Conk, going on important missions and suchlike. When Will Conk’s son William Rufus acceded to the throne, St-Calais was given special powers (not like Captain America or Superman etc) and becomes a political and military, as well as religious, leader. He can raise taxes, mint coins and hold his own parliaments. These royal privileges allow the Bishop to govern the north on behalf of the king.

1093 ~ Building work starts on Durham Cathedral, which is still on my list to visit! The building is at the cutting edge of Norman technology and pioneers many new building techniques and architectural features and was completed in 40 years.

Pudsey

1153 and we have Bishop Hugh de Puiset, or Pudsey as he was known, a nephew to King Stephen of England and Henry of Blois. He was chief Justiciar (roughly equivalent to Prime Minister) under King Richard 1st and when Dick began his reign in 1189, Pudsey bought the offices of Earl of Northumbria and Sheriff of Northumberland. In 1183 he commissions a survey of all his holdings, known as the Boldon Buke (Buke is a days of Yore word for ‘Book’) similar to the Domesday Book, detailing all the revenues and obligations owed to him, and showing how rich and powerful he was. Pudsey is known as a builder, working on the Cathedral and building a bridge in Durham, and in 1195 builds a great banqueting hall complete with minstrel’s gallery at Auckland. He also owns hunting rights across his vast estates, a unique privilege only belonging to the king elsewhere. Pudsey’s impressive hall allows him to lavishly entertain his retinue and court following the hunt. (Mmmm banquets!) It is the oldest surviving part of the Castle, now St. Peter’s Chapel.

Edward I

In 1283, Prince Edward, son of Henry III has Anthony Bek esconced as Bishop of Durham. Beks comes from a family of knights, and is noticed by Edward through his eclesiatical work. When Edward goes off on a crusade in 1270, Beks goes with him, and continues to work for him in high office on their return. In 1298 he rides off with Edward to fight in the Battle of Falkirk against the Pesky Scots, led by William Wallace (last seen in Braveheart, with half his face painted blue and an Ozzie accent). They win, and in 1308 Beks pays Galfrid, the Bailiff of Auckland, £148 to “….sumptuously build and incastellate the ancient mannor place of Auckland.” A great Throne Room is constructed and a four storey lodging block, as well as a magnificent two story chapel.

The Throne Room
Edward III

Moving on to 1346, and Edward III is on the throne, and off to Crécy to fight the Pesky French, and Bishop Thomas Hatfield is with him, last of the warring Bishops. In the meantime, the Scottish King David II takes advantage of their absence and Descends upon Durham. 6-7,000 English troops led by the Northern Dukes muster in the Deer Park at Auckland Castle before marching to Durham. They defeat the Scottish troops and capture the Scottish king in the battle of Neville’s Cross. (Which you may remember from this post about Crook House)

Cuthbert Tunstall

In 1530 the Bishop of London, Cuthbert Tunstall, was ordained as the Bishop of Durham, succeding Cardinal Wolsey, by papal decree. Henry VIII is our King now, and suspects Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall of treason, largely due to the bishop’s role as advisor to Catherine of Aragon during her divorce trials. Henry had Thomas Cromwell raid Auckland Castle for incriminating evidence against the Bish, but Cuthbert had been forwarned that was going to happen and no treasonable doohickies were found. Tunstall goes on to survive as Prince Bishop through four turbulent Tudor monarchies.

James Pilkington

James Pilkington was the first protestant Bishop of Durham, serving from 1561 until his death in 1576. He is also the first married Bishop when in 1564 he marries Alice Kingsmill. The marriage was carried out privately as Queen Elizabeth is rumoured to dislike married clergy. 

Sir Arthur Hazelrig

From 1642-6 the English Civil War kicked off, the middle part of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, In 1646 when this bit was over and Cromwell and his New Model Army had had won and locked up King Charles 1st, the Bishops are stripped of their power and their lands and estates seized. Auckland Castle is sold to Sir Arthur Haselrig, who in spite of being a 2nd Baron, was a parliamentarian who supported Cromwell and became his northern governor, in 1648. Haselrig and his son brought a large amount of property in the north east which included the manor of Bishop Auckland. Haselrig destroyed the medieval Chapel built by Bishop Bek, reputedly with gunpowder, and re-used the stone to begin building his own manor on the site, which never got finished.

John Cosin (1594-1672),

1660 and the monarchy has been restored. Charles II is on the throne and makes John Cosin Bishop of Durham. A loyal Royalist, Cosin had been exiled to France with the court of Queen Henrietta Maria during the English Civil War. Cosin believes that beautiful music, objects and architecture can lead people to God, which leads to accusations of popery, but he was muchly anti the Roman Catholics in his writings. On his arrival at Auckland he sets about repairing what he describes as ‘the ravenous sacrilege of Haselrig.’ He transforms Pudsey’s banqueting hall into St.Peter’s Chapel, (hmm, banqueting or praying, I know which one I’d be doing!) by raising the floor, and replacing the roof. He added the clerestory and screen and commissioned a set of magnificent silver-gilt altar plate (the Auckland Plate), new richly bound copies of the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer, and a tapestry depicting Solomon’s meeting with the Queen of Sheba to be used in worship. (Not a banquet though is it?).

St.Peter’s Chapel
Chapel Ceiling
Nathaniel Crewe

On to 1674 and here comes Bishop Nathaniel Lord Crewe. His tenure as Bishop of Durham saw the first two new parishes to be erected in England since the Reformation, Stockton-on-Tees and Sunderland in 1712. The Church of the Holy Trinity in Sunderland, now redundant, was the base for responsible local government in the growing port town for the first time since the Borough of Sunderland, created by the Bishops of Durham, was crushed by Cromwell. Bishop Crewe installed the organ, which was built by Father Smith, a German Master Organ maker who had emigrated to England in 1667. It is still in the chapel now.

Bishop Richard Trevor

1771 and we have Bishop Trevor in da house. He buys Jacob and his Twelve Sons, a series of paintings of the Jewish patriarchs by Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbarán at auction in London for just over £124. He is outbid for the painting of Benjamin, Jacob’s youngest son. Instead he commissions a copy of the painting from Arthur Pond. The Bishop hangs the paintings in his newly re-furbished dining room at Auckland Castle. Bish Trevor is a busy boy, as he also spends a fortune remodelling Auckland Castle and the Deer Park, including a new clock tower to the design of Sir Thomas Robinson of Rokeby. Trevor employs Jeremiah Dixon of Cockfield (of Mason-Dixon line fame) to lay out the park. Trevor also builds a new bridge over the River Gaunless and the Park’s deerhouse.

4 of the Zurbarán paintings.
The Dining Room

Shute Barrington

Shute was the son of a 1st Viscount Barrington, and rose up the ranks of religious roles to be ordained as Bishop of Durham in 1791. He employs celebrated architect James Wyatt to remodel Auckland Castle in the fashionable Gothic style, and Wyatt creates an impressive processional route from the State Entrance to the Throne Room. The Bishop’s secretary William Emm records the work, noting that ‘no expense has been spared or thought too great to render it comfortable and fit for the residence of a Bishop of Durham.’ These remodelled rooms are used for social occasions, allowing the Bishop to entertain and influence his wide circle of acquaintances. (Mucho banqueting for this chap I think!)

William van Mildert

William van Mildert was the last of the Prince-Bishops. ( there are still Bishops, just not Princey ones.) As part of the University of Durham’s foundation, behind which he was the driving force, he gave Durham Castle to the university, where it became the home of University College. That left Auckland Castle the sole residence of the Bishop of Durham. He was often described as a ‘stormy petrel’ on account of his outspoken expression of his views. In 1831 he naffed off Reformists by leading Bishops in the House of Lords to vote down the Reform Bill. He believed reform would cause ‘strife and disunion, envy and discontent…seditions and heresies, the spirit of insubordination and contempt of all lawful authority.’ For these views the bishops were declared enemies of the people and the people of Durham burnt an effigy of him at the gates of Auckland Castle.

J.B.Lightfoot

1875 Sees J.B Lightfoot in the post, he was mostly a scholar and theologian and wrote lots and lots of books and articles on religious stuff. He is also responsible for adding stained glass windows and a carved oak altarpiece depicting the lives of the region’s most significant saints, including St Cuthbert and St Hilda. 

Brooke Westcott.

1891 and Brooke Foss Westcott is ordained as the Bishop of Durham. A man with a social conscience he brokers a meeting in Auckland Castle between the mine owners and the union leaders which ends a bitter three month miners’ strike. Calling it the happiest day of his life, he is subsequently the first Bishop of Durham to be invited to address the Durham Miners’ Gala, a tradition continued by many later Bishops.

Hensley Henson

1920 and the controversial Bishop Hensley Henson takes over the dioscese of Durham. A chap not backwards in coming forward, and at Oxford when he was studying he was nicknamed Coxley Cocksure. He was a good guy though, and in 1938 publically criticises the British government for their appeasement of dictators Hitler and Mussolini. He is one of the few public figures brave enough to condemn prime minister Neville Chamberlain for what he terms ‘doing business with a gang of murderers.’ Throughout the 1930s Henson continues to raise awareness of the plight of Jews in Germany.

Bishop Hensley’s desk in his study
© National Portrait Gallery, London
Ian Thomas Ramsey
by Bassano Ltd

Dr Ian Ramsey was a clever chap. He came to Durham as Bishop in 1966 having been a Professor of the Philosophy of Religion at Oxford University. In spite of that he becomes known as ‘the people’s Bishop’ as he is prone to going out into local communities and engaging with people from all walks of life. His speeches in the House of Lords form a significant contribution to the rapidly changing social and political life of Britain in the 1960s, and he speechificates on many topics from advances in medical science to rising hemlines. He is featured in ITV documentary ‘A World of my Own’ in 1969.

@BBC
Bishop David Jenkins

Another controversial Bishop, David Jenkins is ordained in 1984, under great scrutiny. He had done an interview for the ‘Credo’ tv programme, and the press were reporting he denied the existence of Jesus. The press misrepresented him there, no surprise. He said in an interview: “I wouldn’t put it past God to arrange a virgin birth if he wanted. But I don’t think he did.” He also naffed off Margaret Thatcher by speaking out about the miners strike, asking for compromise and condemning government policies which are ‘indifferent to poverty and powerlessness.’ Thatcher refers to him as ‘cuckoo’.

@BBC
Brenda and Michael Turnbull.

In the ‘there’s always one’ category, in 1994 Bishop Michael Turnbull was the man in the hot seat. Just before he was enthroned as Bishop, (they still call it that even when. being non-princey) he was asked to give his thoughts on homosexuality in the clergy, and he said it was incompatible withfull-time clergy. Then the News of The World reported Turnbull had previously, in 1968 been convicted of an act of gross indecency with a Yorkshire Farmer. Anyways he was sorry, so he still got the job, and did good works. Brenda, his wife, is the first to develop the castle as a venue, with an exhibition space and facilities for conferences, weddings and other occasions.

Back in 1948 a new Church Commission was set up, and took over the ownership of Auckland Castle, it’s fixtures and fittings. In 1997 they decided to sell the Zurbarán paintings bought by Bishop Trevor which have hung in the Castle since the 1750s. This is vigorously resisted in a fourteen year campaign led by Bishop Auckland Civic Society. The Commissioners don’t stop trying though and again in 2010 they intend to put the paintings up for auction at Sotheby’s for an estimated £15 million.

@chroniclelive
Jonathon Ruffer

Luckily in 2012, financier and philanthropist Jonathon Ruffer decided to invest in County Durham. He donated £1 million to the Durham Foundation and in 2013 he donated £15 million to preserve Auckland Castle through the Auckland Castle Trust, which he is the chairman of, this included the preservation of the 12 paintings. He donated £18 million to restore the Bishop’s Palace and created a museum on the history of Christianity and faith in Britain.

I think that’s enough for this week, but we’ll continue having a look at Bishop Auckland next time, so stay tooned!

refs:- lots of wiki pages on Bishops

http://www.auckland project.org.

http://www.albion-adventures.obsidianportal.com/characters/hugh-de-puiset

http://trinitycollegechapel.com/about/memorials/brasses/westcott/

Crook House & Gardens~ November 2019

On a rather miserable showery day, Sophie and I went off to Framwellgate in County Durham, to visit Crook Hall. As always, I will edumacate you firstly with….

The History Bit ☕️ 🍪

Crook Hall was built around 1217 and is one of the oldest inhabited houses in Durham City. The oldest part is an open hall, built in sandstone and with a Welsh slate roof. In the 17th Century the hall was extended forming a Jacobean manor house, and in the 18th Century a large brick Georgian house was appended to the Jacobean part. A fair hotchpotch that.

Originally known as the Manor of Sydgate it was initially granted to the Archdeacon of Durham’s son Aimery, who, in 1286 passed it on to Peter del Croke, hence it’s new name, Crook Hall. (Not much difference between Croke and Crook I suppose). Peter died in 1320 when the hall passed to his son, also called Peter who died in 1343 and passed it to his son Richard. Here we are going to do a little shimmy and a side step because during Richard’s tenure, a chap called John de Coupland stayed at the hall, where he met and fell in love with Richard’s daughter Joan, whomst he later married.

John was a squire from Northumberland, and on his way to fight in the Battle of Neville’s Cross. Now, the Battle of Neville’s Cross was part of the 2nd Scottish Wars of Independence, (they still have not given up on that!) and on 17th October 1346, the Scottish King, David II brought his army of 12,000 pesky Scots half a mile to the west of Durham where they got absolutely mullered by 6-7,000 English chaps led by Lord Neville, Ralph to his pals. The Scots made their stand on a hill where stood an Anglo-Saxon stone cross, and after the battle Ralph paid to have a new one erected.

King David was badly wounded, having had two arrows to the face, and hid under a bridge over the River Browney, but his reflection in the water was noticed by a detachment of English soldiers, lead by our John, who promptly took the king prisoner. Mind you, the king knocked John’s teeth out in the process, he probably felt better for that. Edward III who was the English King at that time, ordered John to hand over King David, which he did, and was rewarded with a Knighthood and a yearly sum of £500 for life! £470,000 per year in 2020 terms, I’d give up a few teeth for that!

John continued in King Edwards service and became Constable of Roxburgh Castle and Sherriff of Roxburgshire, his other posts were Custodian of Berwick-on-Tweed from 1357-1362 with an interruption in 1362, then Escheater (someone who collects the assets of dead people who don’t have relatives) for the county of Northumberland 1354 & 1356, Sherriff of Northumberland in 1350, 1351, 1353, 1354, 1356 and had custody of David, who was imprisoned in England for 11 years, in 1351, 1352, 1353 and 1356 and Deputy Warden of East March-1359. There were gaps in his service, for unknown transgressions, but he was never publicly disgraced. After the war he had married Joan and lived at Crook House until about 1360. John was ruthless and ambitious in his aquisition of land, revenues and power in the North and made many enemies through being so inclined. In 1362 he was ambushed and killed while crossing Boldon Moor by nine lance holding chaps and eleven archers, and whilst the King had his murder investigated and found out who the perpetrators were, by then they’d scarpered over the border to Scotland and couldn’t be arrested.

So on to 1372. The Hall at this time had been owned by John de Coxhoe, the nephew of Joan De Coupland, having been given it by his dad William. A family called Billingham, descended from a man called John De Cowhird, lived at Billingham and had taken their surname from the place.  De Coxhoe granted them posession of the hall, and in they moved. Alan and Agnes were the first of a family that lived there for nearly 300 years, and passed through many generations. In 1426 Thomas Billingham was the first man to give Durham Market Place a water supply from a well on the Hall’s ground.

Then came Cuthbert Billingham who was a highly strung chap with a bad temper, often quarelling with his Mum and his sister, and he decided to cut off the water supply that Thomas had sorted, and redirected it to supply his own mill. Needless to say the fine citizens of Durham were in uproar, had him arrested and put in prison until he promised to put it back to rights! Apparently there is a ghost at the Hall, The White Lady, a neice of Cuthberts who, it is rumoured, he killed in a temper tantrum, but who knows? 🙂

The next family to take posession was the Mickletons. Christopher Mickleton (1612-1669), was attorney at law, of Mickleton, Yorkshire and had a flourishing practice in Durham. He moved into the hall in 1657 and was undersheriff and clerk of the peace. He was briefly deprived of his posts but was reinstated and became prothonotary of the Durham court of common pleas and deputy registrar of the Durham chancery court. After moving in he suffered again under the parliamentarian regime, becoming only deputy to his old post of prothonotary at the Restoration, and even that post he soon lost. However, his posts had given him access to many legal records and he began the family tradition of manuscript collecting. These manuscripts are from the later 13th century to 18th century, mostly later 17th century. Original manuscripts and transcripts relating particularly to the history of North-East England, with much of national interest, from the Middle Ages to the early 18th century. The collection includes substantial 17th century correspondence, and much material on the administration of the palatinate of Durham and the working of the palatinate courts. There are 103 volumes & 3 rolls in Latin and English, with occasional French and Greek held at Durham University Library, Archives and Special Collections. Christopher passed the hall on to his son James as a wedding gift to him and his wife Francis, and it is they who built the Jacobean part in 1671. By 1720 it was in the hands of John Mickleton who had to sell the place to pay for his debts.

The Hopper family of Shincliffe took over the building in 1736, and added the Georgian west wing. Between 1834 and 1858 they leased the property to Canon James Raine, an antiquary and topographer. He married Margaret, the daughter of Reverend Thomas Peacock, in 1828 and they had three daughters and one son; a Reverend of the same name. James Raine the son was most famous for his controversial account of the excavations of 1827 of St. Cuthbert’s Shrine in Durham Cathedral (J. Raine, St. Cuthbert: with an account of the state in which his remains were found upon the opening of his tomb in Durham Cathedral, in the year 1827  (Durham, 1828)). He was frequently visited by the romantic poet Wordsworth and his wife, and also by John Ruskin,  a leading art critic, patron, draughtsman, watercolourist and philanthropist. James Raine died at Crook Hall in 1858.

In 1859 the Hall was lived in by James Fowler, his wife Mary and their children Hannah, Anne, Elizabeth, James, John and Matthew. He originally worked for his brother James as a sales representative, but after Mary died in 1862 John began his own business as an ale and porter merchant. As well as his flourishing beer bottling service he also had an additional venture selling animal feed in the Market. He did his beer bottling in the medieval hall, after knocking a hole in the north wall so the carts could deliver beer straight to the room. He died in 1888 and the house then went to Matthew as all the other kids had left home by then.

Matthew. 🙄 Sigh. Like any typical 28 year old unmarried male with a substantial inheritance, he partied and drank himself daft, and though he did take over Dad’s business, he lost more money than he made. Took him 2 years to drink himself to death. Matthew’s older brother James returned to Crook Hall with his family, and gave up Dad’s (ruined) business and instead dealt in milk and farming with his other brother, John. James lived there until 1922, when at the age of 68, he died, and his family couldn’t maintain the business, so The Fowlers left Crook Hall.

The Hall changed hands a good few times after the Fowlers left, there were The Pereiras in 1926 who levelled part of the garden to make it a tennis court, then the Hollidays in 1930 who sold it to John Cassells and his wife who developed a lot of the gardens. Then in 1976 Colin and Suzanne Redpath came along and modernised the Georgian wing.

In 1979 major restorations were carried out when  John and Mary Hawgood bought Crook Hall, and it was brought back to it’s former glory. Ian Curry, the Consultant Architect for Durham Cathedral, along with his associate Christopher Downs, directed the restoration of the medieval and Jacobean parts of the house with the work being carried out by Brian Nelson. The main work was to the medieval hall, and windows were restored and the north wall was rebuilt. The Jacobean part was returned to it’s original arrangement, and a new staircase was built in keeping with its medieval and Jacobean surroundings, whilst a turret was constructed to allow the old wooden stairs to be exhibited as a feature. The old Coach House was also restored and converted into a self-catering holiday flat in 1985.  English Heritage donated towards the costs of the restorations.

In 1995 Keith and Maggie Bell bought the Hall and still live there today. A year later they renovated the coach house, to use as their office, and also in 2018 the Coach House Appartment to rent out as a self catering holiday let. They bought the meadow next to it in 1996 and created a maze as a central feature of the gardens, and opened it up to the public. It’s been a great success and in 2015 added a new entrance and a cafe.

You reached the end of the history lesson, well done!! You really are my favourite visitor! 😘

Now on with the pictures!

First, the Hall

Entrance to the hall

We went in the medieval part first, it was cold in there!

From the hall you can see into the Jacobean part across a corridor

It was warmer and very cosy, the original staircase is on the right.

there was real fire on the go, it smelled lovely!

there are little details everywhere,

and a view of Durham Cathedral.

one of the Georgian Dining rooms next

We went upstairs to the Attic room

it had a great view of the Cathedral and overlooked the front garden.

Also upstairs is the Minstrels Gallery which overlooks the medieval hall

On the table we found one of Mrs.Bells scrapbook diaries, lovely to see and read.

So that’s all I got in the hall, next time we’ll have a look around the gardens, so stay tooned!

refs:-

http://crookhallgardens.co.uk/history/

Blood, Sweat and Scones: Two Decades at Crook Hallhttps://books.google.co.uk/books?id=QlY1DwAAQBAJ&pg=PA187&lpg=PA187&dq=Alan+and+AGnes+Billingham&source=bl&ots=n86XXnehzt&sig=ACfU3U2fTA5pOB6sWZxfd8C_RcjxkdlnaA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi2ovWeyuXoAhWhQhUIHf1gD2AQ6AEwAXoECAoQKQ#v=onepage&q=Alan%20and%20AGnes%20Billingham&f=false

Durham University Library Special Collections Catalogue

http://reed.dur.ac.uk/xtf/view?docId=ark/32150_s1w37636792.xml#node.1.4.3.1

https://web.archive.org/web/20121009000019/http://www.crookhallgardens.co.uk/pages/history.htm

 

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/

Bamburgh Castle Revisted ~ August 2019 ~ 2

Part 1 HERE

After a good wander around the grounds we went to visit the museums. The first museum we got to was the Armstrong & Aviation museum, which houses some of the stuff that Armstrong produced for WW2, and some stuff from WW1.

Big Gun

Mangled Aircraft Engines

I’m sorry to say I didn’t take notes or many photo’s in this museum, I’m not sure why it didn’t float my boat,  however there was a really nice vintage car that I liked.

Armstrong Siddeley 1936

We also visited the Archaeology Museum and saw some nice bling that they had dug up. The pieces were incredibly small, but beautifully decorated, and they were covered by a magnifying glass so you could see the detail. Not easy to shoot through 2 layers of glass so not the best shots ever, but you can see what I mean.

These date between 10th and 12th century A.D. It’s possible that metal work or scrap recycling was going on in the vicinity of where they were found, so could be dated earlier than the layer in which they were found.

The top piece was discovered in 1971 and has been named the Bambugh Beast. It is believed to date from AD 600-AD 700 and is reminiscent of Anglo-Celtic illuminated manuscripts such as the Lindisfarne Gospels. The lower piece was discovered in 2011, it is sheet gold, edged with beaded wire and decorated with small balls of gold.

There is also a Stones museum which we looked into.

The information sign says: “This carved panel displays two ‘Celtic’ heads carved into the front face with long, drooping moustaches. Carved heads are common in Western Europe from the Iron Age to Medieval date. These figures are more suggestive of Irish or French origin than the north of England and will be the subject of further research.”

An anglo-saxon well can also be seen there.

The Victorian Well head on the well dug in Anglo Saxon times. First described by Simeon of Durham in 774, there was originally a church on top of this hill with a spring which was “sweet to the taste and most pure … that has been excavated with astonishing labour.” The well is 44 metres deep and 2 metres in diameter and is located in the bottom of the keep of the castle.

Of course the castle rooms are all home to interesting bits of history

 

17th century Flemish Crossbow

There’s a nice little keepsake of Queen Mary’s signature from a vist she made there in 1924

Stay tooned for part 3 when we visit the state rooms.

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 Page


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

Shrewsbury ~ November 2018 ~ part 1

A little break from our North Eastern adventures, as Phil and I went off to Shrewsbury to a model show Phil wanted to attend, and we took an extra day there for me to wander around Shrewsbury and take some photos of course.

Shrewsbury is a market town, on the River Severn, 9 miles from the border with Wales.It has a largely unspoilt medieval street plan and over 660 listed buildings, including several examples of timber framing from the 15th and 16th centuries, so I knew it would be a fab place to photograph.

The (potted) History Bit

Originally the capital of The Kingdom of Powys in the early middle ages, it has been the site of many conflicts between the English and Welsh, with The Angles, under King Offa of Mercia taking possession in 778.  William the Conqueror held off the Welsh hordes who besieged the town in 1069 and 5 years later William gave the town as a gift to Roger de Montgomery who built the castle in Shrewsbury.  Between 1135 and 1153 a civil war raged in England and Normandy, known as The Anarchy, by which time Empress Maud, who wanted to rule England, had installed her own man in the castle at Shrewsbury, William FitzAlan, a nobleman of Breton ancestry. He was a major landowner, a Marcher lord with large holdings in Shropshire, where he was the Lord of Oswestry, as well as in Norfolk and Sussex. However, King Stephen put paid to that as he had already claimed the throne and successfully besieged the castle during the war.

It was in the late Middle Ages (14th and 15th centuries) when the town was at its height of commercial importance. This success was mainly due to wool production, a major industry at the time, and the wool trade with the rest of Britain and Europe, with the River Severn and Watling Street acting as trading routes.

In the spring of 1349, The Black Death plague arrived and took a high toll on the population of Shrewsbury. Records suggest it was devastating. Examining the number of local church benefices falling vacant due to death, 1349 alone saw twice the vacancies as the previous ten years combined, suggesting a high death toll in Shrewsbury.

In 1403 the Battle of Shrewsbury was fought a few miles north of the town centre, at Battlefield; it was fought between King Henry IV and Henry Hotspur Percy, with the King emerging victorious, an event celebrated in William Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act 5.

Well, that will do for historical bits, though of course, the town’s history is much more extensive.

We stayed in College Hill Guest House just outside the town centre, it’s a 16th-century dwelling.  Everything was higgledy-piggledy, the floors creaked with every step, the stairs and walls leaned, but you could feel the history.

College Hill Guest House

We made ourselves at home 🙂

So let’s have a wander around.

We came across this rather magnificent terracotta and red brick building

An Eye, ear and throat hospital opened in 1881, now converted into flats.

 

The next interesting edifice we came across was just around the corner.

Town Walls Tower

Town Walls Tower is evidence of Shrewsbury’s history as a strategically important settlement close to the border with Wales. It formed a key part of the defensive walls that once surrounded the town and is now the last surviving example of those defences. The building of Shrewsbury’s perimeter walls is dated to 1220 and 1242. Henry III issued a royal mandate urging the men of Salop to fortify the town, and grants for building walls were made during his reign. The king visited Shrewsbury on several occasions, pursuing his campaign against the Welsh. By the 14th century, the walls had fallen derelict, and Henry IV commissioned further rebuilding. Town Walls Tower was probably added during this time when the town was at risk from attack. A map of 1575 shows the town almost fully encircled by walls featuring several similar towers. They were a means to observe land around the town and river. All gone now except this one.

But today we’re going to walk through the alleyways of Shrewsbury.

 

 

 

 

 

Henry Tudor House is a restaurant and bar located in one of the most historic half-timbered buildings in Shrewsbury, believed to be the place where a beleaguered Henry Tudor sought refuge on his way to the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

 

The Golden Cross is reputed to be the oldest licensed public house in Shrewsbury and records show that it was used as an inn as far back as 1428, some years before the introduction of formal licensing.

Stay tooned and we’ll visit some more medieval buildings next time.

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