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!! 😉