Otterburn – St John



It was early last month – July – when I got to Otterburn. I’ve driven past quite a few times, up and down the main road. This time I stopped, in their nice new car park (NY885932), and went in. I had driven via Elsdon, and it is Elsdon that, for many centuries, looked after this huge area. Otterburn church was built in the mid 1850s and became a separate parish in 1921. It’s now part of the North Tyne and Redesdale Team – still need to visit Horsley and get in to Byrness. Currently Susan in Bellingham is looking after the lot, and they’re looking for a House for Duty priest to live in Otterburn. There is obviously life in the villages and churches, but it’s a huge area and a huge task.

The building cost £3,000 and was designed by John Dobson, the famous Newcastle architect. The church guidebook tells me that one of his other churches is St Edward’s in Sudbrooke, Lincolnshire, which is one of the parishes in which I did my parish placement while at Lincoln Theological College 1991-94 and my Julie did some of her Reader training. I have just been on their website and see that the Rector then is still the Rector – Robert Spaight has been there since 1989. He was a fishing vicar I seem to recall – yes, the www tells me “he is the Press Officer of the British Fly Fair”. Happy days!

The other thing that happened in Otterburn – another site I have driven past on many occasions – is the Battle of Otternburn, 19 August 1388. I need to get my head round some of these Northumberland battles – Wikipedia links the Battle of Otterburn with the destruction of Ponteland Castle. Earl Douglas for the Scots and Hotspur (Henry Percy) for the English – last time I did anything about Hotspur was A level Shakespeare in 1980. Tradition has it that the head of this stone cross is the Percy Cross that was erected on to the battlefield.

It’s a nice lofty church, though it does feel very Victorian. The little bag in the bottom corner of the photo contains a Warden’s staff (or should that be ‘stave’ – is ‘staves’ the pural of staffs?). I had 16 churchwardens when I looked after 8 Suffolk churches – when they all got their staves out it was a bit like Morris dancing. (Pause to watch the wonderful 1976 Two Ronnies morris dancing sketch – – marvellous!).

Most of the glass is Victorian, and not particularly stunning. There are a couple of Evetts’ windows – one of them in memory of the wife of Colonel Henry Ralph Carr. The Colonel’s book “Sapper’s War” was shelved by the window – it’s on Amazon for a couple of quid. And let’s finish with close-ups of some of Evetts’ glass work.




















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