A reminder that you can keep up to date with the life of a busy parish church at http://www.pontelandstmary.co.uk – lots of good photos of the delights of Christmas. We had over a thousand people through the door on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day – to say nothing of several hundred in the days leading up to it. My photo of Wharlton church in the snow was the Christmas cover picture on the Diocesan website – www.newcastle.anglican.org.
On Boxing Day I wanted a ride on the Tanfield Railway – Julie came too on the understanding that afterwards we would go on to Hexham and I would take her round Waterstone’s AND NOT COMPLAIN. I have sent some photos to the Tanfield’s blog – http://www.tanfield-railway.blogspot.co.uk. Here is one of them (the signalwoman’s name is Angela).
The Tanfield Railway is in Durham (so we drove past Tanfield church!). I stopped at Ebchester – which has some good Roman stuff – but was locked. Whittonstall is the next village along the Dere Street. I found parking – the pub was open – church grid reference NZ071572. There must have been a church here for centuries – after the Norman Conquest the Balliol family settled at Bywell; Wittonstall was a chapel-of-ease. In 1569 it was objected that the curate was allowed “to churche three women and maybe certaine persones in latton [Latin] , in such rites and forme as was prescribed by the Pope.” In 1818 the chapel was described by a curate as “a perfect hovel” and by 1830 it was in ruins. The new church is a simple little Victorian building, 1830 by Jonathan Marshall – Chancel added in 1893.
Lovely view from the churchyard over the hills looking north, nice headstone, and a pleasant little church. I wonder what the future for it is in such a small community?