This page contains the following content:
- St Cuthbert’s, Beltingham
- All Hallows Henshaw
- War Memorial at Bardon Mill and the All Hallows Reredos* at Henshaw
- Commonwealth War Graves Cemeteries
- St Cuthbert
- Bishop Ridley
Welcome to our lovely late 15th Century, Grade 1 listed church, with its outstanding stained glass windows, considered amongst the finest in Northumberland. It is one of only two perpendicular churches - wiki reference in Northumberlland. The church is open from Easter to end of October, weather permitting. A Guide book is available, together with a children’s quiz. Conducted tours can be arranged through the wardens.
The lychgate was donated by the Hon. Francis Bowes-Lyon, together with land adjoining in 1904.
The church was renovated in 1812 and 1884, and remains in excellent condition. It is the only church in Northumberland built in the Perpendicular style. It is named after St Cuthbert who was thought to have preached here, and whose body rested here overnight when fleeing the Vikings after 875. The bell was installed in 1884, and was made by John Warner and son of Cripplegate, London.
Box pews were in place before the current pews were installed, their wood was reused as panelling, and some of the doors survived with their numbers on them.
The altar window was made by the renowned Charles Eamer Kempe, and installed in 1891. The stone window-frame has no keystone at the top, and is called a depressed arch. How does the window stay up? Three of the other stained glass windows are thought to be by Kempe’s pupils, and of fine quality, as is the modern stained glass one with pictures in squares by Leonard Evetts, dedicated in 1982.
There is a metal-grated squint in the chancel and two of the stoneworks (pedestal brackets) either side of the East window and the vestry window frame are thought to date from the 12th century. The original doorway is blocked by a possible Viking grave cover, above which is an unusual grotesque mask.
There are several war memorials on the walls, the small oak one is thought to have been made with oak ‘borrowed’ from Newcastle Cathedral.
The medieval stone font was probably used for the baptism of Bishop Nicholas Ridley, who was burnt at the stake in Oxford in 1555, along with Latymer. “On this night, Master Ridley, we shall light such a fire as will never go out.” Click here if you want to read more of the story of Bishop Ridley.
A large yew tree on the North side of the churchyard could be at least 2000 years old. The churchyard also contains a Roman Altar, a Saxon Cross, and arrowhead scratches on the wall nearby.
There is something special about this ancient and quiet corner of Northumberland, with a real feeling of spirituality.
Our lovely Victorian church was built in 1889, under the guidance of architect Mr. Johnson of Newcastle. It is Grade 2 Listed. A new church was needed as the nearby Tythe Barn converted to a school, which had been used, was too small for Sunday services.
The land, a one acre plot, was given by Sir E.W. Blackett, and the £1200 needed to build the church was subsequently raised (after a vigorous canvass)!
On 30th May 1889 the church was consecrated and called All Hallows (Bishop Ridley Memorial) Church.
The beautiful stained glass altar window was installed in 1894. The centre panel is after the Victorian painting by Holman Hunt, ‘The Light of the World’.
Either side of the chancel ceiling are 38 carved wooden bosses by Ralph Hedley, put in when the church was built, at a cost of five pounds, fourteen shillings.
There is a large fretwork of the Lord’s Prayer, made in about 1925. A wooden W.W.1 memorial was donated in 1992, when the local Methodist church closed.
The high quality organ made by Copeman Hart (not a pipe organ) was donated by Clive Tomkins, and installed in 2002. Also added in 2002 was a Parish Room where a large tactile tapestry is displayed, featuring the Yew Tree at Beltingham Church, made by the Visually Impaired Pop-in Club.
The church is open each Sunday and on other occasions for regular services.Details are on the calendar. Viewing at other times can be arranged through the Churchwardens.
* A Reredos is an ornamental screen covering the wall at the back of an altar.
War Memorial Description: Tall Celtic style wheel cross on aquare 3 stepped plinth (the top step of the plinth is tapered) and 2 stepped base.
Inscription 6 o'clock face: IN MEMORY OF / THOSE FROM THIS DISTRICT / WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR / RIGHT AND FREEDOM / HOME AND COUNTRY / IN THE GREAT WAR 1914 - 1918 / (NAMES) / THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE
Inscription 9 o'clock face: ALSO THOSE / WHO FELL IN THE / SECOND GREAT WAR / 1939 - 1945 / (NAMES)
Inscription 3 o'clock face: [WW1 names]
The Names of those Commemorated on the Village War Memorial are:
- Armstrong, W
- Atkinson, W
- Batey, W
- Bell, J
- Benson, R
- Blair, M
- Bolman, J
- Bowes Lyon, C
- Bowman, F
- Cook P
- Furlong A
- Graham R
- Johnson S
- Little C
- Little H
- Little A
- Mole C
- Nicholson J
- Nicholson T
- Pearson W
- Tweeddale T
- Usher G
- Armstrong, T
- Dinning A
- Hodgson T
- Pattinson H
- Skelton J
- Surtees J
- Ward J
The image below is of the Reredos in All Hallows Church, Henshaw.
You can link to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website here.
The church at Beltingham is dedicated to St Cuthbert, the North of England’s best-loved saint. It has modern windows depicting scenes from his life. Almost all of what we know about Cuthbert is derived from the writings of the Venerable Bede, one of his greatest admirers.
Cuthbert was born in what we now call the Scottish Borders in about 635. In 651, he is said to have had a vision of a soul being taken up to heaven. This coincided with the death of St Aidan, founder of the community on Lindisfarne and pioneer of the Christian mission in Northumbria. Following this experience, Cuthbert entered the monastery at Melrose on the banks of the Tweed. He became prior in 664, already known for his ascetic spirituality and the personal discipline he modelled for his community. After some years he was elected prior of Lindisfarne, thereafter indelibly associated with the Insula Sacra or “holy island” off the coast of north Northumberland.
Bede paints a picture of a man utterly dedicated to the spiritual life. His ascetic practices included rigorous fasting, and standing in the sea throughout the night reciting psalms and prayers. This intense spirituality, his simplicity and humility, the miracles ascribed to him and his closeness to nature and friendship with birds and animals place him firmly in the tradition of the desert monks of Egypt and of early Irish Christianity. He saw life as a relentless battle between good and evil: his love of solitariness was not a retreat from ordinary life but his resolve to play his part in waging war against the demons.
In 684 Cuthbert was elected bishop of Hexham, which gives him a direct link with Tynedale (you can see his name inscribed on a board just inside the south transept of Hexham Abbey). The following year he became bishop of Lindisfarne. He was a reluctant bishop, by instinct drawn towards the life of a hermit rather than public leadership in the church. He had long made the Inner Farne his place of solitary retreat. After only two years as bishop, he died there on 10 March 687 and was buried on Holy Island.
Within a few years, his memory was becoming legendary. In effect, he was declared a saint by the end of the century, pilgrimages to his shrine began, and the Lindisfarne Gospels were written in his honour in around 701. But Viking invasions destroyed the Christian site on Holy Island, and drove the community inland to find a more secure home. They travelled all over the North, bearing their cherished treasures, the body of St Cuthbert and the Lindisfarne Gospels. Medieval churches dedicated to St Cuthbert often preserve the memory of places where they stopped on their journey, such as Norham and Chester-le-Street. The long pilgrimage lasting more than a century ended at Durham where a cathedral was built to house Cuthbert’s shrine and Gospel Book.
Here at Beltingham and the nearby chuch of St Cuthbert at Old Haydon, we believe we have two of the stages of this ancient journey of the community of St Cuthbert. This means that these parishes are directly linked to Lindisfarne where the journey began, and to Durham where it ended, and to all the holy sites in between. That can help us to think of ourselves as the successors of St Cuthbert’s community who are constantly on the journey of faith, hope and love.
The family name of Ridley is well known in Northumberland, especially in Tynedale. In early Tudor times the family owned estates in the upper South Tyne valley such as Ridley Hall near Beltingham and Unthank Hall upstream by Plenmeller across the river from Haltwhistle.
It is possible that the most famous member of that family was born at Unthank in about 1500. At any rate, Nicholas Ridley, a prominent bishop of the Church of England who was martyred in 1555, grew up there. He was educated at the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle, from where he went to Pembroke College Cambridge. He was ordained in the 1520s. A shrewd theologian and controversialist, his advancement in the Church was rapid, thanks to his being noticed by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. By the 1530s, the Reformation was beginning to take hold in England, and Ridley became one of its foremost champions. In 1547 he became Bishop of Rochester and assisted Cranmer in compiling the Book of Common Prayer, first published in 1549. He was appointed Bishop of London in 1550.
Following the brief reign of the protestant young king Edward VI, catholic Mary Tudor was crowned queen. The course of the Reformation was reversed and its principal leaders imprisoned, including Cranmer the archbishop together with bishops Latimer (of Worcester) and Ridley. They were tried at Oxford for heresy and in 1555 condemned to be burned at the stake. Latimer’s words to Ridley as they burned, quoted in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, have etched themselves into the English protestant consciousness: “Be of good comfort Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England as I trust shall never be put out.”
The three “Oxford Martyrs” as they are often known are commemorated in the city by a cross set in the middle of Broad Street outside Balliol College, and by the 19th century Martyrs’ Memorial outside St Mary Magdalen’s Church.