Leadgate, County Durham – St Ives

Sunday 17 September 2023, one of the Heritage Open Days. St Ives church, Leadgate, NZ130551, was buzzing. A talk was just starting, there were local history displays, some mining art, and a cup of tea available. Sadly there was no simple guide leaflet and no leaflet to take which might have told the punters something about what the church is actually doing (surely you have something to advertise when lots of new people are coming into church?). Bit frustrating, but I thought I’ll get enough information about the church from Pevsner. Having found my copy of Pevsner’s County Durham (reprinted 2002) he deals with the church as follows: “a large, plain, E.E. stone church of 1865-8 by C.H. Fowler. N aisle 1879. Towerless” (page 354). This could be a short blog! We came across Fowler at Hepple – http://www.northernvicar.co.uk/2013/03/05/hepple-christ-church/ – and he has a Wikipedia page – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._Hodgson_Fowler

The church has a very active facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/stiveschurchleadgate, and they have a page on https://www.nationalchurchestrust.org/church/leadgate-st-ives. The building is on the Heritage At Risk Register – https://historicengland.org.uk/advice/heritage-at-risk/search-register/list-entry/24185. There is a lot about the village at https://leadgatevillage.com/the-history-of-leadgate-village/. This is a railway map I found at the Tanfield Railway. I did travel the line through the village, it used to run opposite the church. I was on a railtour which was one of the last trains to Consett steel works after closure. A coal mine and three blast furnaces used to be nearby – the world has changed in the last few decades.

These picture displays and slide show were fascinating.

I also enjoyed looking at some of the publications produced by the Consett works and those produced more recently – the Local History Society seems to be a very regular publisher. The mistake I made was not to read one written by a previous Vicar about why the church is dedicated to St Ives – apparently the only church in the Northern Province to bear his name. He was a man of Brittany, 1253-1303, a renowned lawyer and champion of the poor (those two attributes are not mutually exclusive, however much we think they are). I did a google, but got sidetracked by the branchline from St Erth to St Ives, and by the Chapel on the Bridge in the Cambridgeshire version.

It is a large church, very high, and must have had some money spent on it recently. They have a nice disabled loo – shame there still has to be a portable ramp to get into church.

Rather nice that the Colliery banner has found a home at the west end of the church, though the churchwarden refused to move the font to improve my picture!

There was an exhibition by Bernard Nixon (I can’t find any more details of him on line).

There is a lovely selection of stained glass. Here are a couple. There are also a couple of War Memorial windows – and look at the number of names on the list. Frightening.

The East window is a “Light of the World” and needs some work. Although the candles were lit, the Chancel was roped off, which was annoying, but the reredos is rather splendid. I enjoyed the church, and I wish them well.

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