Driving south over the Teesdale hills en route from Ponteland to steam trains in North Wales we stopped in Brough for a loo, then saw a sign for an ice cream parlour in Church Brough – website. The parlour is next to the castle (EH, but a free property). We had ice cream, then I left Julie and had a wander. There was a roman fort here commanding Stainmore Pass, then the castle was built. The keep is C12, and was frequently raided by the Scots. Later more comfortable living quarters were later added by the Clifford family, only to be accidentally burnt following a ‘great Christmas party’ in 1521. It was restored in the C17. A good wander, but a bit blowy.
St Michael’s church is great as well. I came in from the north side, stepped down to the disabled loo and thought “how stupid”. I then realised there is flat access through the south door! The oldest part of the church is the Norman south wall – the original church was destroyed in a raid on Brough by William the Lion in 1174. The south door is from the latter half of the C12. Even earlier is a Roman stone in the porch wall – a tribute to the Roman commander of the fort, excavated in 1880.
Young Hermes in his sixteenth year
Entombed by fate before his day
Beholding let the traveller say;
“Fair youth, my greetings to thy shrine,
Though but a mortal course be thine
Since all too soon thou wings’ thy flight
From realms of speech to realms of night
Yet no misnomer art thou shown
Who with thy namesake God art flown”.
Commagene is in modern Syria and it has been suggested that Hermes was the son of one of the many Greeks who accompanied the Roman army. The original stone is in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. There are also some lovely metal plaques.
So that’s Roman and Norman – I love the way the Norman builders built uphill. The chancel was rebuilt in the early C14 and the church was enlarged later that same century – with the north aisle added. Another reconstruction in the early C16, let’s rebuild the chancel and the north aisle. The tower dates to this time – built under the direction of Thomas Blenkinsop of Helbeck in 1513. The Tudor Nave roof is c1500. Nice woodwork in the Chancel. Various C19 and C20 work, and in recent years they added the toilet and kitchen, made space for displays – some very good history boards – and put a nave altar in. Interesting to have the War Memorial in church.
I also liked the kneelers – a lovely set. My grandad lived in Kingfisher Cottage, so this one was very special. We only stopped in Brough for a loo …