Gosforth – All Saints’

I gave platelets first thing – time to link to the platelet website. This is a very good thing to do – and gives me a couple of hours every four weeks to lie back and give an armful. I like doing it more than giving blood – with platelets they take the blood out, remove the platelets, then put the blood back. I don’t feel wobbly from a lack of blood. Damn clever these machines! I then had a couple of hours to kill before the dentist – you don’t really want a link to my dentist’s website. (Incidentally, while on holiday in Cornwall back in the summer I had to have emergency dental treatment at Lostwithiel dental surgery. This morning I received their emailed newsletter. I pressed “delete” and extracted it from my in-box).

I had a wander round All Saints’ Gosforth – at the junction of West Avenue and Linden Road, NZ241677. The church website is http://www.allsaints-gosforth.org.uk. Sorry about the exterior photos – it was raining.

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I was pleasantly surprised to find it open, although the fact that it was was hardly advertised. Nothing on the main door, and in the vestibule no welcome notice, just a “Code of Practice for Church Building Users” – it is the sort of notice that should be sung to Anglican chant: “A minimum of two of the three sets of external doors should be unlocked when the building is in use by smaller groups, less than sixty …”

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Andrew has just become Vicar – I wish him well. They have four services on a Sunday – Parish Communion with choir etc at 0930 and “Forty minutes of informal worship, fellowship and singing for all ages” at 1100.

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The church was built in the 1880s. The parish church was originally St Nicholas, the one by the metro in South Gosforth, but the population of the parish grew from about 1,000 to about 6,000 – new communities were being built to the west of the Great North Run. The Reverend Frederick Bindley, Vicar of St Nicholas, formed a committee – so Anglican! – and appointed William Cochrane as Secretary. He came from a family of engineers who made suspension bridges – Cochrane, Grove and Co were the contractors for Brunel’s Clifton Suspension bridge. (Many years ago we had a little yellow mini. Julie was driving. She gets to the toll machine. Stops to wind the window down to put her money in. Fails to put the handbrake on. Car moves forward. Julie can no longer reach toll machine. Cross queue behind her!). There is more about the family at http://www.blackcountrybugle.co.uk/Black-Country-men-built-Victorian-Great-Britain/story-21746456-detail/story.html

According to the church website, William Cochrane was a brilliant mining engineer. http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/William_Cochrane says he introduced the Guibal ventilating fan into this country – you learn a lot from this web, and you’d learn even more if I understood what the Guibal ventilating fan is. I am impressed that he bought the site for the church for £362 and even more impressed that he used his expertise to investigate the coal seams 88 fathoms down – that’s 161 metres down. He kept the project going through constant setbacks. It was not easy to raise the money, apparently Mrs Cochrane would drive round the parish in her landau once a month a penny from the men at the Regency Pit (I wonder if they gave it willingly for the glory of God, or wondered why they were giving their pennies when the mine owning class could so easily afford the pounds?).­­

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Building work began on 28 February 1885 and it was consecrated on 2 October 1887. The building was designed by Robert J. Johnson, the Diocesan architect – one of his drawings (and some nice photos) is at https://www.flickr.com/photos/davewebster14/10993176445/in/photostream/. I think we will agree they did a very good job. Pevsner describes it as “a good, competent example of the large late Victorian ecclesiastical building in a prosperous suburb”.

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Nice crucifix outside the church. Millennium tapestry in the porch – shame it is not better displayed – and a memorial tablet to a bell ringer who died in the First World War. A very high church with a good selection of banners. Some interesting pieces of work.

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Much of the wood carving is by Ralph Hedley. To quote the church website “The Rev. Frederick Bindley could hardly contain his excitement about the design of the chancel screen and said it was ‘simply the loveliest thing he had ever seen with the colours of the East window shining through it’. The screen of varied design suggests the ever beautiful and sacred form of the fleur-de-lis enriched by three carved flowers.  Above is the rich cornice with a frieze of carved leaves and fruits of the vine and below, from the Tree of Life, hangs a delicate frieze of twisted stems and leaves. Hidden amongst these are the lower forms of life, such as snails, toads and mice, which all give Glory to their Maker.” I should have got in closer to find the snails! I don’t know who made the Christ in Majesty that hangs above it.

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I wish they would get rid of some of the clutter.

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The East window depicts Christ receiving a child into the company of the Saints and conveys the idea “of such is the Kingdom of Heaven”.  This is not a normal theme for an East window, but was donated by William Cochrane in memory of one of his sons, Herbert Bertram, who died in 1870 after falling down the stairs just a month before his sixth birthday. “Introduction of the reredos, also given by Mr Cochrane, caused some commotion in the Church Committees. Mr Cochrane himself had stipulated that the East window should never be obscured. The situation was overcome by pretending the gift was from an anonymous donor and Mr Cochrane changing his own ruling. The reredos depicts the Annunciation with Mary standing on one side and the Angel Gabriel on the other.”

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There is a good variety of stained glass. A variety of artists. Some windows good, others bad – I don’t think much of the “Light of the World”.

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I enjoyed my wander round this church – then went and presented my teeth to my dentist. Such fun!

 

 

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