Lindisfarne – St Mary

Our friends Janet and Pat have a cottage on Holy Island, and we have been trying to get there for the last four years. We finally managed on March 24 – on a day when the sea fret lay low all day (actually not too bad in the morning, got worse in the afternoon). Let’s get the history correct – Pevsner puts it beautifully: “There is an almost ethereal monotony to the stretching sands and the vast sky [he didn’t visit in the fog], and one cannot help a feeling of awe as one treads the ground where St Aidan arrived from Iona in 635, invited by King Oswald to found a see and monastery. It was organised in the Irish way, but where its buildings were and what they looked like we cannot be sure. They were destroyed by the Danes. After 875 there seems to have been no monastic life on the island, though the earliest remains in the parish church perhaps point to the existence of a church before the site was refounded in 1083.”

The church is next to the Priory (we’ll blog that next), and once inside (good disabled ramp) we are greeted by Fenwick Lawson’s statue of the carrying of Cuthbert’s coffin – they went via Elsdon, Corsenside (remembering two churches I’ve blogged) and ended up in Durham. There is a bronze version of the statue in Millennium Square in Durham, installed in 2008, I assume this wooden one was the original. Finding it tells me that the Lindisfarne one is dated 1999 (and he can’t spell “Millennium”). Nice gallery on the website of his other work.

They have some of the framed pictures by Sheila Mackie – her illustrations to Magnus Magnusson’s book on Lindisfarne. (I found a copy in Hexham Oxfam bookshop – another book on the ‘to read’ pile. I’m currently enjoying Mark Mason’s book ‘Walk the Lines – the London Underground, Overground’ – great fun! Let’s see if I can do a “northernreader” and add the pictures of the books …















The East Window is 1883 by Mayer of Munich. According to Wikipedia, they were the stained glass window suppliers to the Holy See (do you get “By appointment to the Pope” on the back of your van?) – Lindisfarne isn’t mentioned in Wikipedia list of their glass. I liked the Celtic design in the sanctuary carpet – good photos at

Two lovely Evetts windows (Cuthbert on the left, Aidan on the right).








A busy church with lots of visitors. I photoed a bit more, and went on to the Priory.

Later in the day, when the fog was thicker we walked down to the sea beside the church, and enjoyed the wallflowers. We looked across to St Cuthbert’s Island – where there is a medieval chapel I need to visit (when the tide is out).



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