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

Seaham ~ May 2018 ~ part 2

Part 1 HERE

Let’s have a wander around the harbour and beach first.

There was a boat removal going on while we were there

having a paddle in the sea



Come in No.10 your time is up!

Everyone found it entertaining

The Audience

The beach was clean and not too packed,

Far From the Madding Crowd


The Madding Crowd (1)


The Madding Crowd (2)

Seaham’s Lighthouse was built in 1905 to mark the town’s north breakwater. The cylindrical metal tower is painted in an alternating black and white pattern and is 10 meters in height.  A green light is shown from the glazed lantern at the top of the tower, which gives a single flash every 10 seconds or in bad weather shows a fixed green light. The tower also holds a Fog Horn which gives a blast every 30 seconds in periods of low viability. So glad I don’t live next to that!

Actually that’s a big fat lie, when the weather kicks off here Seaham lighthouse is the place to be with a camera, check this out a couple of minutes of this film by Ian Britton,



On the way back up the hill from the beach, we saw some more madding crowd coming down,

Don’t worry lad, you’ll grow into it!


Sorceror and apprentice.


In Seaham, towels are the new must-have jackets.


That’ll do for today, stay tooned folks!




Seaham ~ May 2018 – Part 1

Last time out we went to Cheeseburn Sculpture Park in June, I must have been excited to get it done as I completely missed out a couple of other outings that Sophie and I went on in May, so I’m going to be chronologically challenged. No matter, it’s all time travel anyway. 🙂

SO, Seaham. It’s a coastal town, once named Seaham Harbour.   It’s been around a fair long while and has one of the 20 oldest surviving churches in England.   Back in the day (1815) it was a rural agricultural community,  but somehow a local landlords daughter, Anne Isabella Milbanke, managed to catch herself a beau by the name of Lord Byron and got married to him in Seaham Hall on Jan 2nd, 1815. Now Anne was a bit of a puritan and Lord Byron was a bit of a hmmm, what word to choose for him?… rascal? anyways, he was amoral and agnostic and she a god fearing girl.  No surprise the marriage disintegrated and they legally separated in 1816, on the grounds of his having sex with various men, women, his half-sister and for sodomising his Missis. Before that ignominius ending they had a daughter, Ada Lovelace, who became a famous mathematician and invented the first computer algorithm.   Byron was bored in Seaham and wrote to one of his pals “Upon this dreary coast we have nothing but county meetings and shipwrecks; and I have this day dined upon fish, which probably dined upon the crews of several colliers lost in the late gales. But I saw the sea once more in all the glories of surf and foam.` He skedaddled out of the country a month after Ada was born.  It’s worth noting, for Seahams sake more than mine, that Lord Byron, apart from being a cad, (fab word that!) was a British nobleman, poet, peer, politician, and leading figure in the Romantic movement. He was good pals with Percy Shelley, another great British poet and his Missis, Mary, who outdid both of them when she wrote Frankenstein IMHO.

Seaham, strangely, has been in the movies, it was featured in “Billy Elliot”, and (I kid you not) “Alien 3”.

Of course, it was also a mining town and had it’s share of mining disasters as we found when reading the gravestones in the church.


Well let’s crack on with some pictures,

First, we went down to the harbour

boats (of course, not gonna find cars parked there 🙄)

Seaham has had a lifefboat station since 1870, and though closed down in 1979, the station was renovated in 2012 and now houses one of Seaham’s historic lifeboats, the George Elmy.  In November 1962 the Elmy and her crew went out in appaling weather conditions to rescue a missing fishing boat. They found her and after three attempts they miraculously rescued four men and a nine year old boy.  On the return journey they battled against mountainous seas in an heroic effort to return to port, but at 5.20 pm, just yards from the harbour entrance they were overwhelmed by gigantic waves and capsized with the loss of the entire crew and all but one of the people that they had so bravely rescued from the fishing boat. The George Elmy was a right old mess of a wreck, and although the people of Seaham didn’t know what happened to her after that, she was carted off, extensively repaired, and returned to service with the RNLI, ending up in Dorset where she did a great job and was finally decommissioned in 1972 where she shuffled off into obscurity.  Then, in 2009, one of the Seaham Heritage group members spotted her for sale on Ebay She had been converted into a fishing vessel and was laid up in Holyhead neglected and forlorn. Of course this story has a happy ending, the heritage group bought her and restored her to her former glory’. I just LOVE happy endings!


Ray Lonsdale is a local sculptor and is becoming quite famous.   Originally a steel fabricator, he now works in steel to pursue his passion for sculpture. He has 2 statues in Seaham, we found the latest down by the marina, called The Coxwain.

think he’s missing something..

It was commissioned by the town’s East Durham Heritage Group and Lifeboat Centre who spent months raising the £24,000 needed to fund the piece, made to honour the sacrifices made by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution crew and staff who worked at the Seaham Harbour station between its opening in 1870 and its closure in 1979.

Ray’s first statue for Seaham is known as  ‘Tommy’ a 1st WW soldier representing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which many of the returning soldiers endured.



photobombed by unknown small person.

People leave memorial tokens to their WW1 relatives on the statue.

Seaham did seem to be a bit statue potty bearing in mind it’s only a small town, but all good for photographing.

Of course someone had to do a statue of Lord Byron and Anne Milbanke, and it’s situated just outside Byron Place Shopping Centre.

George & Anne failed in their attempt to win Dancing with The Stars, Bruno Tonioli thought their technique wooden and lacking musicality.

Created by local artist David Gross they are supposed to be dancing at their wedding. Mr Gross said ‘the figures are facing different directions in reference to their brief relationship‘. At least they are together forever in Seaham. In wood.

Lastly there is a statue to the mining community, entitled The Brothers. Created by Brian Brown, who previously worked at Silksworth pit, and unveiled in 2011.   Celebrating Seaham’s mining heritage, the sculpture of 3 miners represents the 3 mines of Seaham: Seaham Colliery, Dawdon Colliery and Vane Tempest.

think we’ve been shafted chaps…

that’s enough for part 1 I think, stay tooned for part 2, bet ya can’t wait.

all pictures can be clicked on to embiggen them where they look even more glorious if that were possib;e (it is, try it 😀 )

further interesting reading if you are a geek like me

The George Elmy Restoration Project

Lord Byron

Missis Lord Byron is also a very interesting lady.

Day 54~366

I was working in Sunderland today, managed a couple of pictures. Firstly I stopped for lunch in a carpark and saw a Mum and her teenager on top of a car,


Later in the afternoon I had to park up on the sea front at Seaham, while I waited for a client to get home from her bowling match, it was a bit wild and windy, so just took a couple of shots.

The beach


and the safety belt,


Think I like that one most, so that is for the daily shot!


The Sunday Fraggle report ~ bits & bobs edition.

Well it’s slim pickings at the moment with my photography.  I’ve been working extra hours, and it gets dark here at 4.30pm so once I get home from work, sorted home work out, and had dinner, it’s being difficult to feel inspired or motivated. On top of that the weather is pants. But hey- ho I did get a couple to be going on with.

Last weekend we went to the Annual Free convention held in Tynemouth, about 20 mins up the road from us. It’s (obviously) a yearly event where die hard fans of the band Free meet up, have some drinks and see Free tribute bands, as well as special guests from back in the day. This year the tribute band was Freeway, who were really good, and prior to them we had a solo singer, Toby, who Free’s now departed bass player Andy Fraser, discovered and recorded with. Not my cup of tea songs wise, but he was a great guitarist.


after him we were treated to a couple of class musicians, the guitarist Chris Spedding and singer Mr.Snips (real name Steve Parsons) both of whom joined a band called The Sharks, formed by Andy Fraser after Free split up. They were great and told loads of stories from the olden days when they were hot stuff in the music business.

Mr.Snips & Chris Spedding
Mr.Snips & Chris Spedding

I had a little outing to Seaham to visit the 1st WW memorial there. Its a statue called 11-0-1 but nicknamed Tommy.

This imposing metal sculpture, entitled 1101, owing to the fact the armistice went into effect at 11am on November 11, 1918, stands 9ft 5ins tall and weighs 1.2 tonnes.

Built out of special corteen steel, it has been installed on Seaham seafront in Country Durham to mark the centenary of the start of the Great War and was supposed to remain in place for three months. But the townspeople of Seaham wanted to keep it, so they raised the £85,000 it cost to buy it to keep.

Created by local artist Ray Lonsdale, the sculpture is also intended to represent Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which many of the returning soldiers endured. Mr Lonsdale got his idea for the piece after hearing a story about a soldier from nearby Murton who won a war medal.

Tommy collage

there is a plaque on the rear

tommy plaque

I visited a client who lives by Woodhorn Church,  St Mary the Virgin.  It was built in the early eleventh century but most of the external features are from a restoration of 1842. The church was made redundant in 1973 and is now Woodhorn Church Museum.


The lady who owned our cats before we got them got in touch with me on Facebook, and sent me some pictures of Storm & Skye when they were kittens

Skye & Storm
Skye & Storm

and I’ve taken some of them this week too 🙂

Batcat (Skye shadow)
Batcat (Skye shadow)
Bag puss 1
Bag puss 1 (Storm)
Bag puss 2 (Skye)
Bag puss 2 (Skye)

Skye has taken to sitting under my work station when I”m on the computer when Phil isn’t here to entertain her.


but she much prefers to be with Phil 🙂

Saturday morning papers reading club.
Saturday morning papers reading club.

As always, I’m back to work tomorrow, a long day ahead. So time to get sorted and ready for action!

laters gaters

🙂 ❤

new post up on the fragglefilm blog BTW 🙂