Wark – St Michael

My lovely little church at Mibourne needs a loo – we are all getting to that age. Milbourne has no water. We need a composting loo. Wark has a composting loo. Duncan (church secretary) and I need a visit. We invite our beloved wives to come too – “Darling, come and see a composting loo”. Wark church is on the north side of the village (NY858776) with a large car park, and the loo in the old hearse house.

We inspected it with the help of Michael the Rector and Ann the Churchwarden. We want one!

Then we explored the church. It is a Greenwich Hospital church – see Thorneyburn and Humshaugh – and dates to 1818. I have not yet visited Simonburn church, the original parish church for this huge area. This church feels light and airy, and Michael says it is in reasonably good condition. The only drawback is that being north of the village, it is a struggle to get people to come.

Michael went and got the altar cross out of the safe – when the church is open they lock the cross safely away – and it is rather lovely. The wording on the reverse is fascinating too.

Michael tells me that the Reverend Spencer Wade was known as a good preacher. He impressed one of the local landowners, and got invitations to preach at Buckingham Palace. The cross was a “thank you”. One suggestion is that the cross had been given to the Royal Family by the Tsar, and its presence on the altar reminded our Royals that they had been unable to save their Russian cousins when the Revolution came. It is fascinating what you find in Northumberland village churches.

We came to find a loo, and found a cross from Buck House. Then we stopped at a pub – The Wellington in Riding Mill – for supper on the way home. I am enjoying my perambulations around Northumberland, and I’ve written about it in “Pont Island News”, the journal of Ponteland Local History Society – ‘An amble round local churches, with a bit of railway history’, page 10 of the 2012 edition. The Society has a good website at http://www.ponthistsoc.freeuk.com and blog at http://ponthistsoc.blogspot.co.uk

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