Elsdon, Northumberland – St Cuthbert (for the third time)

From Hartburn we drove on through Cambo, and the gorgeous road to Elsdon – stopping before the village to get a few photos. I do love Northumberland.

St Cuthbert’s church is a favourite. I’ve blogged it twice, but visited a couple of times more. On one occasion I came here for a meeting to discuss what adaptations they could make to the building to make it more of a tourist centre in the village – although nothing like on the scale of Derbyshire, Elsdon is one of those hub villages. I wanted to see what they had done in the three years since we met.

I was very impressed with the War Memorial displays on the north wall. They have done an excellent job researching those who gave their lives. I had two complaints – the sun was in the wrong place (and they can’t do anything about that). My other is that there is a headstone of Rufinus, a Roman soldier. He was commanding officer of the fort at High Rochester, and it was erected by his wife Lucilla, the daughter of a senator. I would love the display to make a link between the soldier of the Roman Empire, and the soldiers of the British Empire.

Lots of pews in this church, and a lovely view through the East Window. Some nice memorials, and the plans to remove some of the pews are on display. A refreshment area in the north transept, a display area in the south, and the area around the font was going to be levelled. They have done a good job of the south transept floor, and they are displaying a model of Harbottle Castle, but no sensible noticeboards or proper displays. Nothing done on the north or west ends – rather depressing.

Inspired North East was set up while I was in Northumberland – £¼ million of lottery funding, a “Spirit in Stone” website listing exciting churches in Durham and Northumberland, a guide book, display boards in various churches, links to the visit of the Lindisfarne Gospels returning to Durham in 2013, and projects for churches to work on their heritage. Less than a decade later, Durham diocese seems to have withdrawn, Newcastle seems to have one part-timer, neither the Spirit or the Inspired websites have been updated recently, and you won’t find “Churches to visit” on a visible page of the Diocese of Newcastle website. Search for “tourism” and you will find just one reference – leading to Inspired, and their out of date website. So depressing.

I cheer myself up with the knowledge that this church, the West Window, and the life of the village will last longer than a diocese and its slogans.

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