Horsley – Holy Trinity

We continued up the A696, onto the A68 and stopped at Holy Trinity, Horsley – NY841972. The view across the valley, looking west, is lovely.

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The church is on the east side of the main road and there is little parking, just some hardcore on the verge. Much better to stop on your way south rather than north. My wife is disabled – and Horsley is not a church for her. Look at all those steps!

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The church was built in 1844 by J. and B. Green, at the instruction of Lord Redesdale. Pevsner says it is Neo-Norman. There was no guide, no magazine, no notices, nothing to tell us when the services are. The team website has more information.

In the porch, and I love the way it takes up residence with a traffic cone, is a Roman altar. Apparently it comes from Featherwood, 3½ miles north of the fort at Rochester, and is dedicated to Victory and Peace. Some other lumps of stone too – interesting. What on earth are they?

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There is obviously some work being done on the organ – no mention of it on the website. Otherwise, quite a simple church.

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I like the design on the altar, and the font and font lid.

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The Redesdale family date back to the C14, and David was the second son of 1st Baron Redesdale. Wikipedia says he was not bright enough to join his elder brother at Eton, so went to Radley with the intention he should join the army. He failed the entrance exam for Sandhurst and was sent to Ceylon to work for a tea planter. In 1900 he returned to England and joined the Northumberland Fusiliers as a Private for the Second Boer War. It does make me wonder how he got on in Ceylon, and what the other soldiers made of him. He served with distinction and was wounded three times, loosing one lung – how on earth did you cope with that in 1902? He married Sydney Bowles in 1904, and they had one son and six daughters. The daughters are the Mitford sisters, the last one of whom – Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire – died last September [2014] – bbc news.

David served in WW1 with the Northumberland Fusiliers as a Lieutenant and served as a Logistics Officer in Flanders. He was mentioned in dispatches at the Second Battle of Ypres. He was invalided out in 1916 – it makes me wonder how, with only one lung, he ever got in. By the 1920s he was a large landowner, but not a wealthy one. He lived at Swinbrook in the Cotswolds. By the 1930s he and his wife were known for their extreme right-wing views, and in 1938 they accompanied their daughters to Germany, attended the Nuremberg Rally and met Hitler. When War broke out, Redesdale was, above all, a patriot – but his wife stuck to her Nazi sympathies and the two became estranged. They separated in 1943. By the late 40s Lord Redesdale was living in Northumberland as a virtual recluse. He died in 1958 and is buried at Swinbrook. His wife is buried there too – here it looks as if the date of her death was added later.

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july b 103The Hon. C. Mitford on the WW1 memorial is David’s older brother Clement who was killed in 1915 at the Battle of Loos.





Here is a memorial to the Reverend Thomas Stephens – Vicar for 40 years.

july b 096Outside are some interesting memorials, and I have never seen a plaque like this on a headstone before.

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Kirkwhelpington – St Bartholomew

We decided it is a very long time since we have had a drive-round-Northumberland-and-find-lots-of-churches day. So on Saturday 11 July we drove north up the A696. There was a plan to do a tourist church trail along this road, here is my version – none of these churches I called into today can even muster a guidebook. On this occasion I found Kirkwhelpington, came into the village, jammed on the brakes and pulled onto the verge. I was yelled at by my passenger. “But, look, it’s a North Eastern Railway bench”. She wasn’t impressed. You do get some strange looks lying on the verge photographing snakes on a bench. One NER bench should be sufficient – Kirkwhelp has two! By the other bus stop, just down the road, is another wonderful bench. Presumably they were both rescued from the local station. You very rarely see them with the snakes with their tails. The bottom one is at Beamish Museum, and gives an idea what it would have looked like.

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Right, I suppose we should do the church …. . The church of St Bartholomew is in the middle of the village – NY996844 – and is a lovely, substantial church, mainly C13. There would have been a Norman church on this site, and excavations show there were aisles and transepts. Pevsner says “The story is even more confused by the presence of a steeply pointed tower arch to the nave which has two orders of scalloped capitals, the outer order with finely scrolled volutes, and extremely bold zigzag decoration in the arch both towards the E and W”. Now you know why a simpler guidebook would be a good idea! Some nice flowers in the porch, along with the Vicars’ list, and nice door.

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july b 072july b 074Inside, the arch is quite spectacular, and this other banner (their Millennium banner, not that they can spell Millennium on the accompanying notice) is good too. I liked the roof bosses too. A very pointy Chancel arch.

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There are some interesting memorials. Here is one to Charles Algernon Parsons, marine engineer. He was born in London in 1854, the son an earl. He graduated from St John’s Cambridge in 1877 with a first class degree in maths, and then (very unusually) became an apprentice at Armstrong’s in Newcastle. In 1884 he developed a turbine engine and electrical generator that were able to produce a good supply of electricity cheaply – within five years he had supplied 350 of these steam turbines. He came up with the idea of powering a ship by steam turbine, and in 1894 he produced Turbinia,  now in the Discovery Museum in Newcastle – website. She could travel at over 34 knots when the fastest warships of the day only managed speeds of 27 knots and Parsons decided to showcase his technology by gate-crashing the naval review of 1897, which was to honour Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. He set up the Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company; by 1904, 26 ships powered by steam turbines were in operation. Parsons was knighted in 1911 and admitted to the Order of Merit in 1927. He died in 1931 and is buried in Westminster Abbey.

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charles parsons

The record of their son’s death is here.

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There are some fascinating monuments in the Chancel too, on the wall and floor. It is a nice chancel, with Sedilia too.

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Good windows, I assume the plain one is by Leonard Evetts.

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Outside I had a wander round the churchyard – lovely tombs.

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Posted in Evetts' windows, Northumberland, Railway interest, World War 1 | Leave a comment

Hunstanworth, Durham – St James

On Thursday 9 July we went for a drive down to Hunstanworth, leaving the County as we did so. St James Hunstanworth – NY 949490 – is in County Durham, but in the Diocese of Newcastle.

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The church, vicarage, school and cottages were rebuilt at one go in 1862-3 for the Reverend Daniel Capper. He was born on 28 October 1804 at St Pancras, moved to Cheltenham at the age of 12, and entered Queens College, Cambridge, in 1823. He graduated in 1828 and the following year married Anne Saunders. Her father was rector of St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe in London. The sheet about Capper on the noticeboard in Hunstanworth names the church as “St Andrew’s Wardrobe” which is a lovely image! Capper was priested in 1831 and became incumbent of Hunstanworth in 1834. Much of the land belonged to his paternal grandmother’s family – they were the Ords of Newbiggin Hall (not the Newbiggin Hall in Newcastle, but one just across the Derwent). He was also made rector of Huntley in Gloucestershire in 1839. (His father got him that job!). Anne died in 1837, and he married Horatia – her father was an admiral. His mother died in 1861 and he inherited all the family wealth – and there was a lot of it. He spent it in Hunstanworth, Huntley and elsewhere. His health started failing in 1865, and he resigned from Huntley and sold off the Northumberland/Durham lands. He died in Cheltenham in 1886, and is buried in Huntley.

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His architect was Samuel Sanders Teulon. Pevsner describes him as “one of the most ruthless and self-assertive of the High Victorian rogue-architects”. I thought this was rather rude, but it turns out to be an accepted term  – see the Victorian web. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/property/advice/3296661/Master-builder-Samuel-Sanders-Teulon-1812-73.html is an article about Teulon himself. Born in 1812, he married Harriet, had four daughters and four sons, lived in Hampstead, and died in 1873. He was an Evangelical and designed many churches – including Huntley.

I like his geometic designs in the roof and the curves and shapes. There had been an earlier church on this site, which had itself been rebuilt in 1781. The pile of stone by the west end is the remains of a Pele Tower. I like the weather cock too.

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july b 034Inside we have a nice sturdy font, a large church – I’m sure it must seat more people than have ever lived in Hunstanworth – and a pulpit built into the south wall.

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july b 017The Commandments are painted on the Chancel Arch, and the Chancel is rather nice too. Small organ, and an interesting Arabic carpet hung on the north east wall.

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july b 027Stained glass in the Chancel is by Lavers and Barraud of London, in the Nave it is by Kempe, 1879 and 1881. Some of the shapes are almost as lovely as the colours.

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Hunstanworth is a Thankful Village, a village that lost none of its men in the Great War. There are three memorials in church, and a lot of information at this website, and its local page about this village – there is a lovely photo of Joshua Jameson, one of the village men. Medwyn and Dougie have their own website.

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Staindrop, Durham – St Mary the Virgin

I wanted to visit Staindrop church to catch up with Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmorland – see my blog on Great Salkeld. We were driving south down the A68 to go and see friends living in Yorkshire, so turned off and came down into Staindrop – St Mary’s church is on the right, just beside Raby Castle. That looks well worth a visit – website. The church has its own website – and its grid reference is NZ132206. At this point I pause to wonder how many northernvicar readers use the grid references – but as a Cambridge Geographer (OK, Part I Geographer, I did Theology for Part II) I shall continue to quote them. I see that John, the other Selwyn Geographer from our year of 1980, is now Director of Strategy at Ordnance Survey. (Julie, my Selwyn Lawyer who would regularly go and drink with John and his pals at the Hat and Feathers. says her strategy as far as maps are concerned is “don’t get lost”). Did you know James Bond took a First in Oriental languages at Cambridge?

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Anyway, the church has a nice guidebook – lovely black and white drawings “reproduced from Canon H.C. Lipscombe’s ‘A Detailed History of Staindrop’ – I think he was Vicar here for 58 years, that’s time to write a very detailed history. He also restored the church and is buried by the door. Lovely sundial on the C14 porch, but no mention of it in the guide.  Later on, inside the church, I found a plaque to Canon Lipscombe.

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When you enter the church you immediately find some wonderful tombs. Now I should be disciplined, work my way round the church – but I cannot believe anyone could walk past these tombs and not stop. Interesting question as to why they are by the door and not at the East End.

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The first one, made of oak, is of Henry Neville, who died in 1564 and his two wives. Anne was the daughter of the Earl of Rutland, Jane the daughter of Sir Richard Cholmondeley – it’s the one you pronounce Chumley. I climbed up to take photos from above, if I had looked down and through the railings I would have seen their children carved in the niches of the tomb, and the family crest.

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Down between the two huge tombs, is this one of Margary, the second wife of Ralph, Lord Neville, died circa 1343. I’m not sure why she is here separately, or which Ralph her husband was.

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He is presumably not the Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland, who we came across at Great Salkeld, and who lies in this incredible alabaster tomb. He died in 1425, and lies between his wives, Margaret Stafford, daughter of Hugh, Earl of Stafford, and Joan Beaufort, daughter of John of Gaunt and half sister of Henry IV. Back in 2013 we enjoyed The White Queen on the BBC, an adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s novel. It was also blogged about by Northern Reader (Julie is now blogging regularly again – why not follow her?). Warwick the Kingmaker was the grandson of Ralph and Joan. Dame Cecily was Cecily Neville, Ralph and Joan’s daughter. She was the mother of Edward IV, George (Duke of Clarence) and Richard III. The stone for the tomb probably came from John of Gaunt’s quarry at Tutbury in Staffordshire. Today it would be quite a task to transport a huge block of stone from Tutbury to Staindrop – how on earth did they do it?

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I tore myself away from these magnificent tombs, purchased my guidebook from this wonderful chest, and tried to work this church out. Some models in the south aisle helped.

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The Saxon church, dedicated to St Gregory, was, according to the guide, in “classic Saxon cube form” and occupied the space between the screen and the third arch of the main aisle. You can see the remains of Saxon windows, which I spotted, and a Saxon sundial, which I didn’t. The small church was then enlarged into an abbey with the addition of a tower at the west end and a small chancel at the east.

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In Norman times the side walls were demolished and replaced with Norman arches. There is a mason’s mark which was the trade mark of John d’Ireby. He was also responsible for Bulmer’s Tower at Raby Castle and the keep at Carlisle Castle in the early C14. In 1343 the south aisle was constructed on the instruction of Ralph Neville (who is remembered in the Battle of Neville’s cross near Durham) to form the Lady Chapel where his mother and later Neville ladies could be buried.

juned 067juned 068juned 069The east window of the south aisle, is dedicated to Henry, 2nd Duke of Cleveland, and contains three ancient shields of glass. These are the three at the top left and relate to the houses of Percy, Clifford and Greystock. The ones on the right are C19 copies and relate to Neville, Dacre and de Ros.

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The Sedilia in the Chancel is a portion of the remains of the old chancel before it was rebuilt circa 1230. On the north wall is a small, slanting window which was the hermit’s window from which he could look down on the main altar. Lovely coloured ceiling too.

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The chancel screen is C14 and the pews are C15, having their origins in the day of the collegiate church which was founded in 1408. In that year Cardinal Langley granted a licence to Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland, and he founded a college on the north side of the church. It was the only college founded by a lay person, and the endowment amounted to £126.5.10d. I love the 10d – apparently the complete value today would be about £300,000. You couldn’t endow much today for £300,000.

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The East Window is constructed in perpendicular style and is of Victorian origin. It was designed by John Cory and replaced a previously similar window of medieval origin. The glass was supplied by Messrs Warrington of London, and donated by Henry, Duke of Cleveland, in 1855.

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There are some hatchments in the Chancel, and plenty elsewhere in the church, especially in the north aisle. Most of them are for members of the Vane family of Raby Castle – Sir Henry Vane purchased Raby in 1626, and he petitioned Charles I to become lay rector of St Mary’s. In 1698 his grandson Christopher Vane became the first Baron Barnard. There are other lovely memorials in the north west corner. I didn’t work out who they all are! The St Gregory Chapel is the end of the north aisle, and there are some interesting niches and a lepers squint which are associated with C14 chantries. There are other memorials over by the south door – lots and lots of words.

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So, what have I missed? The WW1 memorial is quote something, and they have worked on everyone’s stories. An interesting WW2 memorial too. The font is late C15 and made of Egglestone marble. As you all know, or would if you had read Sally Badham’s book Northern Rock: The Use of Egglestone Marble for Monuments in Medieval England, which is British Archaeological Reports British Series 2009, “Egglestone marble was quarried at four sites around Barnard Castle on the banks of the Tees in the later Middle Ages, reaching a peak in usage in the fifteenth century. … Whilst there is no evidence of the stone’s use in building work, it was used in a range of other monuments such as cross ledger and incised slabs, tomb chests, fonts, and most importantly as the setting for memorial brasses. [In this book] patterns of patronage are noted and the appendices contain a complete list of Egglestone marble pieces with evidence for dating and patronage.” I’m sure it would be £38 well spent!

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It is a lovely church, and one which must be quite a struggle for this small town to maintain. Outside is lovely too – just enjoy the photos.  We must come back and enjoy the town.

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Posted in Durham, Outside Northumberland, World War 1 | 2 Comments

Carlisle Cathedral (again)

carlisle-lms-lner-travel-poster.-1925-419-pLet’s have a 1925 railway poster to celebrate this return to Carlisle. I last blogged about Carlisle Cathedral in January – it wasn’t much warmer in June! They are now working on the stone work by the south door, but signage makes it very clear that the Cathedral is open and welcoming. I also liked the “Keep calm and come to Evensong” poster. Last time it was too dark for good photos, this time my battery expired. This time I purchased a guidebook, now all I need to do is read it. Enjoy a few more photos.

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This is the altar in the Duke of Lancaster’s Regimental Chapel. The area at west end of the Cathedral has war memorial and personal military memorials dating back to 1856, and regimental colours dating back to 1745. It was formally established as a Regimental Chapel in 1949, to the design of Stephen Dykes Bowers. He was the chap who designed the extensions to St Edmundsbury. The local regiment developed from the 34th Regiment of Foot to the Border Regiment, the King’s Own Regiment; to the present Duke of Lancaster’s. There are Crimean memorials, WW1 memorials – and this museum at Carlisle Castle looks worth a visit.

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Elsewhere there is a rather nice memorial to Dean Close. He was born in Frome in 1797, educated at St John’s in Cambridge, and became curate of Willesden in north London in 1822. To me Willesden is Willesden Junction, how strange to think of Willesden before the Junction. He went to St Mary’s Cheltenham in 1824 and was there until 1856. He was a noted evangelical who, according to his obituary, “opposed alcohol, tobacco, horse racing and theatrical amusements” – he sounds a bundle of laughs! More positively, he had a great interest in education – a reminder how much work the Church of England puts into education. Let’s have a shout-out, as they say on Radio 2, for our own Church School, Richard Coates Middle School, which was rated as Outstanding in its recent SIAMS inspection – details here – well done! Francis Close became Dean of Carlisle in 1856 and remained there until 1881, by which time he was 84. 25 years as Dean – imagine the changes he must have seen in the city. He died the following year.

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There are four painted panels on the back of the choir stalls. The panels were painted in about 1485 – 90, and one of them bears the monogram of Prior Gondibour. I am pretty sure that these paintings on the south side are of St Augustine of Hippo. Here are two of the panels with the illustrations explained.

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On the north side is St Cuthbert, though he is not in such good condition. It would be lovely if they would take a decent series of photos and make them available – though I should probably check in the bookshop before I write that!

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Last time I photoed the Salkeld Screen, but it wasn’t a good photo. It bears the initials of Lancelot Salkeld, Dean of Carlisle, who became Dean in 1541, and the arms of Henry VIII, who died in 1547. There are twelve very finely carved heads, six on each side. Some are in contemporary dress, others in Roman style. The ladies are rather lovely.

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The tracery of the East Window dates from the C14. The upper lights show the Last Judgement with Christ in Glory. The lower lights are scenes fro life of Christ by Hardman & Co (1881). It is rather lovely.

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We sat and enjoyed Choral Evensong – Lloyd responses, Sumsion in A – with the girls’ choir. and the beautiful Quire ceiling. We will be back!

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We then went on to the station to see Timbertown Girls, a play about the WW1 munitions factories north of the city – see this website. I had seen the poster for this last time we were here.


It was advertised as being in the Undercroft at the station, so I emailed to ask if we could get a wheelchair down there. Lovely reply, and free tickets, and a seat at the very front. I hadn’t realised it was a young people’s group from Langholm, and they were marvellous. It was humorous, and rather moving. The cast were brilliant – it was well worth the drive over.

The following Monday I was in Carlisle station again, but on a non-platform road. I joined the Cambridge University Railway Club for a trip on Network Rail’s New Measurement Train – we went from Newcastle along the Tyne Valley through Hexham to a siding at Carlisle, then south over the Settle & Carlisle line to Leeds. The NMT does what it says – measures track, gauge width, cant, tilt, has clever machines that look inside the rails for stress fractures in the metal, looks up at the overhead wires. There is lots of detail here and you can watch it on youtube

To make my fellow railway enthusiasts very jealous, here is a photo from the sidings at Carlisle, and another in Newcastle station. It was a wonderful day – my thanks to Seb and Colin from CURC, and Mandy and the team from Network Rail.

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Posted in Cathedral, Cumbria, Railway interest, World War 1 | 1 Comment

York, Goodramgate – Holy Trinity

Holy Trinity is a church in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust – there is a lot about the church at their website.

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The first existing record of the church is a charter of 1082, though it is thought this charter is a forgery! There is some Norman work and C12 tracery still in existence. The east end was rebuilt between 1470 and 80, and the rebuilding probably included the whole chancel of north aisle. The tower was added in 1495-6, and not a lot happened since.

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It was a busy churchyard, full of people eating their lunches in the sun. Inside was a contrast. C17 box pews – never the most comfortable, but they kept the kids in place. There was a proposal to remove them in 1896, but the work was not carried out. The double-decker pulpit, which allows the preacher to see everyone despite the high pews, was installed in 1659 and cost £6. It is made of oak. The bible was read from the lower lectern, and the sermons preached from the top level.

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The picture dates to 1882 and is by John England Jefferson of Malton – it shows the church closest to its Georgian form.

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The font is late C15, with an oak cover of 1787.

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The Mayoral boards commemorate the Lord Mayors of York with connections to the parish. The grandfather clock shape is unusual, and there is a Mayoral Pew.

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This WW1 memorial is to the Bedern Boys, young men who attended the Bedern National School just down the road. According to http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/yorks/city-of-york/pp440-460#h3-0011 “This school for boys, girls, and infants was built between 1872 and 1873 by the York National School Society with aid from the state and the central funds of the National Society. The site, at the corner of Bedern and St. Andrewgate, was given by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. … There was accommodation for 570 in 3 schoolrooms and 3 classrooms. The attendance in 1873 was 325; fees were 1d. to 4d. for boys, 2d. to 6d. for girls, and 1d. to 2d. for infants. The school first received an annual government grant in 1880. The accommodation had been increased to 608 by 1897; the average attendance was then 544. In 1913 the infants’ department was closed and the school reorganized to accommodate 407 pupils; alterations to the buildings were made after 1914 with the aid of a grant from the National Society. … From 1932 there were junior mixed and infants’ departments only. The school was requisitioned for military purposes in 1939 and closed in 1940.” There is an ongoing project to trace families and fill in some of the history – marvellous!

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Some stone coffins in the NE corner, and a rather nice window (which isn’t mentioned in the guide).

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The East Window is rather nice. It was given by the Reverend John Walker, rector, in 1471. He is the man kneeling beside the crucified Christ. John was a man doing well. He was a Keeper of the York Guild of Corpus Christus in 1471, a prestigious Guild which also had Archbishop George Neville, aristocrats and wealthy merchants as members. Archbishop Neville was given another living at All Hallows, Barking, in London – it makes you wonder if he ever went to Barking. Walker, or fuller or tucking, is a step in woollen cloth-making – so it is possible that he came from a family connected with textile manufacturing. In his will of 1481 he bequeathed numerous cloaks and lengths of cloth to family and friends. He was also a member of the Guild of St Christopher and St George – who both appear in the window. There is a representation of the Trinity – the Son on the left (note the Crown of Thorns), presumably the Father in the middle and the Spirit on the right.

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The Commemorative Slabs in front of the high altar reflect the high status of the men whose graves they mark. Three were Lord Mayors of York, and the fourth (right) Lyonel Elyott was the son of Thomas Elyott, a Groom of the Bedchamber to Charles II.

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This is the altar in the SE Chapel, while the one in St James’ Chapel is ancient and stone – before the Reformation stone altars were common. On this one you can see the consecration crosses. The stone is magnesium limestone, probably quarried in Tadcaster. There is also a Hagioscope, an angled window built into the chapel wall to enable a chantry priest to say Mass in synchronisation with the priest officiating at the high altar.

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Rather a nice postcard blown up and on display – tourists have been coming here for many years, and you can see why.

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Lanercost Priory, Cumbria – St Mary Magdalene

St Mary Magdalene, Lanercost Priory, Cumbria, was a place I first visited while walking Hadrian’s Wall in 1982. We have called in occasionally since then, but Friday 22 May 2015 was the first time we stopped at the Lanercost Tea Room – website. Very nice indeed, and I like that their website says they are blessed by having a Priory next door. Then there is the English Heritage Priory – http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/lanercost-priory/ – all the ruins. The third part of the Trinity is the parish church itself – http://www.lanercostpriory.org.uk/index.html. It looks as if the three work together well, to everyone’s advantage. The Lanercost Festival is coming up at the end of this month – http://www.lanercostfestival.co.uk/

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The Normans captured Carlisle in 1092, but most of the land to the east stayed Scottish until 1157 when Henry II wrested control of the north from the Scots. To consolidate his power, Henry established Hubert de Vaux as overlord of Gilsland and, when he died in 1164, encouraged his son Robert to found an Augustinian priory in his memory – it was probably founded in 1169. No doubt they used wood, and stone from the Wall – it does make you wonder how much stone the Wall held! The Augustinian Order was founded in Italy and southern France in 1059, and believed that clergy serving in cathedrals and churches should live communally according to monastic principles. Augustinians were therefore canons rather than monks, and lived according to the Rule of St Augustine of Hippo. Carlisle, Hexham and Jedburgh were also Augustinian houses, and in Suffolk I had some connection with the Augustinians at Clare – http://www.clarepriory.org.uk/augustinian-friars.html

It was never a big monastery, often failing to reach the normal minimum of 12 canons and a priory. The 1536 report said that Prior John Robinson led a community of eight canons and a curate. The priory church had gained parochial status in 1287 and had its own priest by 1314. The nave of the priory became the parish church, and this saved it from destruction at the Dissolution. We entered the parish church, and received a good welcome from the volunteer on duty. It is a high, splendid church – with a view of the rest of the Priory through the east window. I wandered round while Julie found the second hand book stall.

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One interesting embroidered panel of the history of the Priory. Edward I visited here in 1306-7 and stayed for five months. He had been in 1280 and 1300, when he had been generous to the Priory, but by 1306 he was 67. He was an old man and his health was poor. He had come north on campaign against the Scots, but by the time he arrived here on 28 September he was being carried in a litter and it was clear he would go no further. Queen Margaret was with him, as were another 200 people. You can imagine the disruption and expense of his visit. He – they – stayed through the winter, not moving on until March. In 1311 Robert Bruce led an army to the priory door. Although the church and monastery were not too badly damaged, they destroyed many of the prior’s other properties. Famine in 1316, cattle disease in 1319, a Scottish raid in 1346, Black Death in 1349 – and so it went on. By 1536 the monastery was valued at £85, and closed in 1538. The tapestry shows Henry VIII’s final triumph.


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In the late C19 George Howard, the 9th Earl of Carlisle, a philanthropist and artist who lived at Naworth Castle, commissioned extensive work by leading Arts and Crafts designers, including William Burne-Jones and Charles Ferguson. Behind the altar is this woollen embroidered Dossal by William Morris. It was embroidered by Mrs Bulkeley, the wife of the then Vicar, and Mrs Dodgson and Mrs Chapman, wives of previous Vicars, and first hung in the Priory on Easter Day 1887. In 2013 they had a major restoration programme and have produced an excellent book on the subject (by Christine Boyce). If you are interested in William Morris, I highly recommend a visit to the Gallery in Walthamstow, north London – website. We went last year and had an excellent afternoon. Back in Lanercost, the lady from the V&A described this Dossal as “a particularly beautiful and original design made by Morris for a friend at the peak of his career as a designer. It is one of the few commissions remaining still in-situ.” In order to preserve it, the church has put a programme in place to protect the dossal from light, insects, mice and, to quote the book, “contamination by candle wax, spillage of communion wine and contact with decorative vegetation and water”. Those of you who work in churches will have alarm bells ringing – “no flowers or other vegetable matter should be permitted in the Sanctuary”. In the red corner we have the Dossal ladies, in the blue corner the Flower ladies – and the Vicar is probably caught in the middle!!

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There are some lovely Arts and Craft windows as well – one of which replaces a former window, broken by a football during a kick-around involving the then Vicar’s sons.

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There are some good display boards about the Lanercost Cartulary – the original is in the Cumbria Record Office. A cartulary is a book which contains copies of charters, recording grants or surrenders of land to the Canons. It was obviously much easier to look through a book than a pile of charters. It was started between 1252 and 1256 either during or soon after a major battle in the courts with their own lord, Thomas of Moulton, baron of Gilsland. They lost that law suit, but were better prepared for any future ones. A single canon wrote the whole book, collecting charters from the previous hundred years. He up-dated it for a time, and different canons copied additional charters for another century. The last is dated 1364. There are lovely drawings in the margins, and these are reproduced in a little book “A Window onto Late Medieval Cumbria; the drawings in the Lanercost Cartulary” by John Todd. It is unlikely that the priory church ever looked like this.


At the Dissolution the charters and cartulary went to the new owners of the land – the family at Naworth Castle. The cartulary was quoted in court in 1826, and then disappeared. There was a fire at Naworth in 1844 and it was assumed it had been burnt. In fact the registrar of the court in 1826 had taken it home – to Castletown House, north of Carlisle. It was re-discovered in 1982. The original charters were at Naworth until 1830 when the chief steward of the Howard estates called them to be sent to Castle Howard. They were taken by cart to the Tyne, loaded onto a boat, and the boat was wrecked on a sandbank in the Humber. The cargo was rescued, but since the ship had also been carrying Verdigris (acetate of copper) the documents were stained green or washed blank.  They were then loaded onto carts, buried in a snowstorm, and when they finally got to Castle Howard were laid out along the galleries to dry – all sense of order and history was lost. By 1985 it was only possible to identify ten of the original Lanercost charters, out of the 360 or so that were copied into the cartulary.

Before I make rude comments about aristocrats and their care for their records, it is worth reading this beautiful memorial. “In this church lies buried Charles Howard Fifth Son of George Sixth Earl of Carlisle also Mary his wife daughter of James Parke Baron Wensleydale, who died at the age of 21 after one year of married love. He mourned for her all his life finding his consolation in sincere and simple piety in unselfish and fervent love for old and young and in a single minded and ardent devotion to the cause of progress and liberty which cause he supported with unwavering steadfastness for 39 years as Member of Parliament for East Cumberland. He died beloved of all AD 1879 aged 65 years. Their son George Howard places this tablet in loving remembrance.” Even the aristocracy know pain.

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Here is another plaque, commemorating Hubert Howard and Christopher Howard, sons of George Earl of Carlisle and Rosalind his wife.  One died at Omdurman in 1898 and the other at Slaines Castle in 1896.
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I am not going to do lots and lots of photos of the rest of the Priory, but here is a site plan to give you a flavour of all that is there. It is worth visiting. Beautiful stone – even better if the sun is out – some lovely vaults, and some fascinating tombs.

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This wall-tomb and monument is supposedly of Sir Roland Vaux. However he was alive in the C13, whereas the form and style of this tomb-monument suggest a date of 1350-1410. It is most likely to mark the grave of a member of the Dacre family. The Dacres were the patrons of the priory, so they are buried at the east end.

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This is Lord Thomas and Lady Elizabeth Dacre – Lord Thomas had had an important role on the English side at Flodden, and died on campaign in Scotland on 24 October 1525.

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This one is slightly earlier, probably about 1510 – it is of Sir Humphrey and Lady Mabel.

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The baby is Elizabeth Dacre Howard, daughter of George and Rosalind Howard. She died on 17 July 1883 only four months old. The terracotta effigy is by Sir Edward Boehm.

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A sad image to end on – but rather nice that a Priory originally built in 1169 is still a holy place, despite all the Scots, the Reformation, and everything else can throw at it. OK, the ruins are owned by a charity, the feeding is done by a business, but the church is still there working with them all, adding a dimension of prayer and worship.



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