Church service on Sunday 2nd April 2017 in memory of William Brown, local mining engineer (1717-1782).
We really don't know when Heddon's St Andrew's Church was founded, but around 680 AD is the general consensus.
H.M. & J. Taylor in their monumental work 'Anglo-Saxon Architecture' put it in the period 600-800 AD).This fits with its dedication to St Andrew, which suggests that it may be contemporary with Hexham Abbey (674), Corbridge (676), Bywell St Andrew, and Newcastle St Andrew.
Bede, the Father of English History, has a couple of intriguing references in his 'History of the English Church and People', completed in 731.
In Bk.III, chapter 21, he records the baptism of one King Peada "by Bishop Finan .... at a well-known village belonging to the king (i.e. Oswy, king of Northumbria) known as 'Ad-murum', and, a little later King Sigbert was baptised "by Bishop Finan in the king's village of Ad-murum, so named because it stands close to the wall which the Roman's built to protect Britain, about twelve miles from the eastern coast". These incidents are both dated by scholars as 653 AD.
There can be little doubt that "the wall which the Roman's built ..." is Hadrian's Wall built about 122 AD, beside which Heddon village stands. Bede does not mention the name Heddon, but there is no record of this name (Hedun) in use earlier than 1175. 'Ad-murum' is translated 'At-Wall', not so different from 'On the Wall' (though in Latin our name is usually 'Hedon super murum').
Did Bede think that Hadrian's Wall began right on the coast (he twice tells of it running from sea to sea), and therefore assumed that the twelfth milecastle (at Heddon) was twelve miles from the coast?
On high ground, a splendid defensive position, Heddon as we know it would be an excellent site for 'the king's village'.
The site of Ad-murum has been located at various points from Newcastle in the east, to Walbottle and Heddon in the west. But the actual site of the King's village has never been found. The local historian, Cadwallader J. Bates, writing in 1885, argued strongly that Ad-murum with its royal villa was at Heddon.
If this is true, Heddon existed (probably under another name) in 653, and there the second Bishop of Lindisfarne, Finan, baptised the future kings of the Middle Angles and the East Saxons.
We usually date our church at 680, just after Hexham. If Ad-murum were identified with Heddon (and there is no evidence of it elsewhere) then almost certainly we could claim that we had a church here before 653.
Bewcastle Cross stands in the graveyard of St Cuthbert's Church, close to its south porch in the small village of Bewcastle in Cumbria. The tapered yellow sandstone shaft stands 14 feet 6 inches (4.4m) high and has lost its original cross-head. The four faces of the pillar are elaborately decorated and also carry runic inscriptions on three of the four sides.
The date of the cross and the translation of its runes have always been controversial. However, it is generally believed to date to the late 7th or early 8th century and may commemorate the early Anglo-Saxon kings of Northumbria. F M Stenton in Anglo-Saxon England (1974) says the cross commemorated Alhlfrith, son of Oswiu, and his wife, Cyneburg, daughter of Penda.
Some scholars have suggested care should be taken as the evidence is unreliable and changes may have been effected by over-ambitious cleaning of the stone in the mid-19th century, and erroneous or deliberate re-cutting of the inscriptions.
Essay 5, The Bewcastle Cross in Runes and Runic Inscriptions: Collected Essays on Anglo-Saxon and Viking Runes by Raymond Ian Page & David Parsons, Boydell & Brewer Ltd, 1995.
It is often twinned stylistically with the Ruthwell Cross in Dumfriesshire, now preserved inside Ruthwell Church. This is carved in a very similar style and carries both Latin and runic inscriptions.
On Monday 13th June 2016 Christopher Wardale talked at our monthly meeting about one of his lifetime passions, stained glass. His first degree from Newcastle was in Fine Art and he has been designing and researching the ancient and modern art of stained glass ever since. He trained as an Anglican priest, now retired, and has considerable knowledge of of some fine examples of stained glass in the north-east.
His talk revolved around a Metro tour of Newcastle but was interspersed with historical information and personal anecdotes.
William Wailes (1808–1881) established a stained-glass firm in Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1838 which became one of the largest in the country. Wailes made a name for himself through the provision of windows for local churches and at the height of the business had 76 employees turning out a new window every day.
Christopher Wardale described how Wailes' produced windows often show particular colour combinations making them easily recognised.
Photos by A Curtis (2015)
Select the links for further information on this web-site about the church and its stained glass windows.
I was intending to write a description of the church interior to accompany these photos but found I couldn't better that already on the Great English Churches website: Heddon on the Wall.
The standards of both description and photography are superb and I thoroughly recomend it for anyone interested in our beautiful historical church. I reproduce jusst two quotes from the text below (the emphasis is mine):
All in all, there is a lot to see here in a church that seems to be in the shadow of other churches nearby with Anglo-Saxon provenance. Quite why this should be so is not clear to me. Heddon is both attractive and interesting and few churches are more welcoming to visitors. If you are in the area on the Trail of the Anglo-Saxon please don’t miss Heddon-on-the-Wall off your itinerary.
Churches of Northumberland
On Monday 11th May John Grundy visited the village to give us a talk on the Churches of Northumberland. It was suitably held in St Andrew’s Church and organised jointly between the Church and Heddon Local History Society. John still has a dedicated following and some 50 people were treated to him at his best; a two hour romp through Northumberland and Durham, given without notes and with his traditional style and humour. Things he has forgotten, mostly dates, he just makes up, making a joke of it, then filling out another impossibly complex tale with more remembered facts that no one else could possibly hold in their head. Note taking was impossible although I tried.
The basis of his talk, illustrated with a slideshow, was the history of the churches in Northumberland followed by an all too brief discussion of St Andrew’s itself, showing how the features of our parish church fit into the whole. If his enthusiasm could be bottled, John could make a fortune.
We had been kindly invited to the church by Rev. Mark Nash-Williams for a talk by John Grundy and Peter Ryder on Tuesday 7 May 2013 about recent research which showed that the church is 300 years older than anyone realised, and probably vastly more significant.
We had previously had talks locally from both John and Peter and they are always entertaining, so I wasn't going to miss a double act, especially on their expert subject of old and, in particular, church buildings. The evening certainly lived up to expectations but my note keeping was far from accurate as the acoustics in the church were not ideal and I was sitting near the back. Thus I apologise in advance for the mistakes I have undoubtedly made in this brief report.
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- Old Photos
- Letter from the Emigrant Clergy of Frenchman's Row (1802)
- Alleged Brutal Murder at Heddon-on-the-Wall (1876)
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- Heddon Village Show (2015)
- War veterans singing send-off (September 2015)
- Anglo-Saxon history (2014)
- Heddon WI at 100 (2017)
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