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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.