A few miles north of Edlingham lies Bolton Chapel – we followed the wonderful metal signs (the one photographed is just opposite the church). Grid ref = NU106137. If you look carefully at this friendly noticeboard you will see it tells you to ring the bell for access. Bolton Chapel is a chapel of ease to Edlingham, and they’re now in a group based on Whittingham.
In 1855 a burial cist containing an urn was found on the north side of the church which, along with the circular enclosure, suggests that this may have been a sacred pre-Christian site. Some Roman artefacts have been fund, and the settlement itself is Saxon. The earliest reference to a church here is in two 1175 charters in Durham. In 1209 King John met William the Lion, King of Scots, here.
In 1225 William’s daughter Isabella and her husband Robert de Bos founded a leper hospital here. 60 years later the master of the hospital and several of the brethren were accused of stealing goods and burning houses at Branxton – early Border reivers. Ten years after that (in 1295) the army of Edward I was amassed in Bolton, and in 1313 sheep were bought from the hospital “for the use of the royal household” as they went north (again) to deal with the Scots. Two hundred years later the army of Henry VIII camped here prior to Flodden. In Bolton Chapel he and other nobles “partook of Holy Communion and pledged themselves to defeat the Scots or die on the field”. This year is the 500th anniversary of the Battle – http://www.flodden1513.com
The only remaining internal feature of the early church is the Norman chancel arch, but the Nave was completely restored in 1860. The chancel dates from 1868. There’s a very decorated font and an odd North Transept.
Lots of interesting memorials on the walls. Some quite ancient, others Victorian. There are big houses nearby – Bolton Hall, Broome Park and Shawdon Hall – and the families have been part of Border history for many years. Indeed one was a secretary to Lord Chancellor Eldon – I wonder how often he came back to Bolton.
Up in the Chancel, stars on the ceiling and a couple of Jubilee kneelers. History goes on.