The Northernvicar is Peter. I retired in April 2023 as Vicar of Allestree and Darley Abbey in the City of Derby – having started there in July 2016. This summer we will be moving back to Hexham in Northumberland. 

I was ordained 25 years ago, and served my Curacy in seven parishes north of Bury St Edmunds, then my first incumbency in four parishes just south of the town. I then did seven years in St Edmundsbury Cathedral, as Chaplain, then Canon Pastor. I then went north to the beautiful County of Northumberland where I was Vicar of Ponteland in the Diocese of Newcastle.

I started this blog when I moved north in 2010 – hence the name. I visited many Northumberland churches and took photos. Then I extended the blog to other churches I have visited as I have travelled round this lovely country of ours. I moved south to Derby Diocese in 2016, so I’ve done some exploring in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire, and I go further afield too.

While in the North I walked Hadrian’s Wall, so I blogged that too – I like my Romans. Having walked Hadrian’s Wall, I started walking the Derwent Valley Heritage Way – amazing history along one river. Sometimes I blogged my walks.

During Covid I started writing a daily Facebook Ramble and I added them to this blog every month or so. In 2021 I decided I want to travel all the railway network again – I’ve done it twice already, but train travel is a pleasure, most of the time. I rather enjoy doing the difficult curves, rare track and having an explore while I do it. You will find those journeys recorded too. 

My wife Julie is northernreader – she is the brains of the outfit, and I recommend her wonderful writing. Her blog is https://northernreader.wordpress.com/. As well as reviewing books, she also explores bookshops. 

33 Responses to About

  1. Tony Stevens says:

    I would just like to complement you on you blog. I have always had an interest in churches, castles and the like, and recently I have started to photograph them, especially the churches, both inside and out. I prefer the smaller and more remote churches as I feel that they have a more intimate feel to them rather than the grander cathedrals. It is also easier to set up a tripod without having to worry about bothering other people.
    I came across your blog by accident whilst researching a feature of The Church of St John the Baptist in Edlingham, and now regularly refer to it for information and inspiration.
    As I do not believe in taking without giving, I will always drop at least £10.00 in the church’s collection box for the privilege.
    I would however like to ask you if there are any protocols I should adhere to in photographing the interior of churches. At the moment I tend to visit only when the church is empty and only enter the areas the congregation would have access to.

    • Thank you Tony. I am now feeling even more guilty that I have been so slow in visiting and blogging anywhere else. Thanks too for donations when you visit – I know how much these buildings cost to maintain. (And if they have Gift Aid envelopes handy, please fill them in so we can take the money the government gives us!). I know of no written protocols for photography. Assuming there isn’t a “No photography” or “Photography only with a permit” notice, you can go anywhere open to the public and photo. If I entered a church and someone was there – perhaps doing the flowers – I would chat first and say “May I set up the tripod for some photos?” Obviously, be careful with a tripod not to damage anything, and don’t do things like stand on pews. I am sure God wouldn’t mind if you were – as I sometimes do – to cross into the Sanctuary to take a particular photo. Again, if someone was there, i would ask first; if someone came in while I was doing it, I would be friendly and hope they weren’t upset. Unless you get a really stroppy person most are very happy you are interested in their church – and if they’re not happy, assume they’re having a bad day. (Even Vicars can have bad days!). Best wishes, Peter.

      • Tony Stevens says:

        Thank you for the advice, I’m happy to know that I am already following your advice re Gift Aid and respecting the sanctity of the churches.
        No need to feel guilty though, there is more than enough here to keep me busy for a long time.
        Tony S

  2. Simon White says:

    What a great blog. Love to see Felton on your next blog. Church always open and new artisan bakery in village is just fab. Keep up the good work. Simon

  3. Hi Peter,

    Wonderful blog. I wonder if I might use some of your beautiful photos of St Andrew Bolam in a personal YouTube I’m putting together. It involves Robert Reymes, the man in the effigy and possible family connections with my family in England.

    Thanks and please keep posting those beautiful photos.

    Kind Regards,

    Steve St. Clair

  4. Hi Peter,
    Congrats on the blog – I often dip into it for historical info on my travels both online and whilst on the road. Was wondering if I could use your picture of the Allgood headstone at https://northernvicar.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/ingram-st-michael-and-all-angels/ for my own blog post? I will credit you, of course, and provide a link back to your blog. I won’t be publishing my post for several months as I have a backlog of articles! You can check me out at http://www.northeasthistorytour.blogspot.co.uk/
    Mick Southwick.

  5. Jess says:

    Finally got round to reading your blog and I love it, especially the local stuff. What rich and dramatic history and …..right on our doorsteps. Your voice and personality really bring the buildings and their stories to life. This has definitly sparked further interest for me and I eagerly look forward to you next installment.
    Thank you for the history lesson.

    Jessica x

  6. C B Newham says:

    I’m not sure how long you’ve been in the benefice, but it might have been you that let me into Milbourne church in July 2009 so I could record it. Glad to hear it’s open on weekends. As for Ponteland – I’ve been twice. Lovely church.

    • Yes, it would have been me. Milbourne unlocking is a bit hit and miss – the problem when few people live close – but we try. The age-old problem: if it is unreliably unlocked, people don’t visit. If people don’t visit some in the congregation ask “why do we bother leaving it open?” Head, brick wall, bang! I really ought to blog about St Mary’s and Holy Saviour – a job for the summer.

  7. Enjoying your church visits, and have been keeping a particular eye out for those in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust. We’ve been sharing them with our Twitter followers and they’ve been a hit.

  8. Andy says:

    Dear Peter,

    Thanks for your blog. My wife and I are planning a trip to Hadrian’s Wall and Scotland. Her surname is Robson, which apparently is traceable to “Hroethbert, the name found on a stone cross in the Robson heartland at Falstone.”

    So I began looking for info on Falstone, which in turn led me to your former church; hence, to you. Might you happen to know where this Hroethbert stone is found?

    Thanks and God bless,
    Andy in Toronto

    • admin says:

      Dear Andy,
      That sounds fascinating. Falstone wasn’t a church I looked after, just one I visited – and I obviously missed that stone. Go onto http://www.newcastle.anglican.org/default.aspx, use “Find a church” on the right, search for Falstone, and email Susan the Team Rector or one of the Churchwardens.
      Enjoy the Wall and Scotland!
      Best wishes, Peter

  9. Mike says:

    Hello Peter,
    I have just come across your blog which I have read with great interest. I have in particular an interest in the church at Gunnerton. I am writing a book on Monsignor Hawes churches in Western Australia. Would I be able to use your photographs of Gunnerton Church in my book? Any photographs used would of course be acknowledged
    in the book.
    Kind regards

    • admin says:

      Thanks for the comment on my blog. You are very welcome to use any photos of Gunnerton on your blog. I realise though that my Gunnerton photos are not my best. I went to do an evening talk there and it wasn’t the best of light. I now live about 150 miles from Gunnerton, but I do have friends in the North East who are good photographers. If you want me to ask one of them to get you some better photos, I’m sure that could be arranged. Best wishes, Peter

  10. Paul Wilson says:

    Dear Peter,
    Would you mind if I were to upload one of your photos of St Mungo’s Simonburn (the one taken through the stone archway) to my family tree on Ancestry? I will of course credit ‘Photo by the Revd Peter Barham’ or whatever is your preference. I notice quite a few people are requesting to use your images so it may be worth adding a note about rights status and re-use on your blog. Many thanks
    Best wishes

    • admin says:

      Dear Paul, Yes, of course you can use it, and that credit is fine. Good thought, I’ll add that. Struggling with the tech at the moment. Cheers, Peter

  11. robin says:

    Great blog. Like the mix of Romans / Religion and Trains!
    How about an occasional picture of the organ console (forget the pipes I’m an organist) when you visit the churches:)
    Also next time your up north make sure you visit the shrine of Antenociticus, It is just behind a great Persian/Syrian restaurant off the west road called Fazals (http://www.fazalscafe.co.uk/cakes). Also info about Antenociticus :

  12. Russell and Gill says:

    Dear Peter,

    we discovered your blog while researching St Wilfred Cumbria. Although we are local, we have not yet managed to get inside yet so were delighted to find your virtual tour and excellent photos. We are setting up a geocache for St Wilfred as part of a popular series on churches, to help visitors to the area find this hidden chapel. The geocache will not be located in the church grounds but information from around the outside of the chapel will lead to the coordinates of the final location. Can we place a couple of pictures from your blog on the cache site and also a link to your blog for those who can’t get inside on the day but would like to learn more? Many thanks.

    best wishes

    Russell and Gill

  13. Ashley Compton says:

    Hi Peter and Julie! I stumbled across your blog while looking for something else. Pleased to hear that life seems to be going well for you. Hard to believe that Hannah is now a grown woman and not the little girl I knew. Paul and I are still in Lincoln. I’m now teaching at Bishop Grosseteste and Paul at the University of Hull. If you ever find your way back to Lincoln, when the world can move about again, you should look us up.

  14. Hello Rev. Peter

    My name is Chris Helme, a retired Police Officer here in Brighouse. West Yorkshire. Since I retired I now write local history about my community and present talks both live and zoom to local groups. I am currently finishing my preparation for one about Grace Darling. On your website you have a really nice interior photograph of St Aidan’s. Would you give permission for me to use the interior photo on my PowerPoint show. This is for a retirement home in Leeds. It will not be used for any other purpose and where I got it from will be acknowledged on the slide.

    Thank you


  15. Jacquetta Megarry says:

    A most interesting series of posts, Peter, and many thanks for sharing all this. I am particularly interested that you found the gravestone of Eric Linklater in St Michael’s Church, Harray. We are working on a guidebook to St Magnus Way that visits this church and by happy coincidence his son Magnus has already agreed to write our Foreword. Please can you email me as I’d like to ask about reproducing one or two of your photos in the guidebook? Many thanks.

  16. Mrs Stephanie Broughton says:

    Hi, not sure if this is the best way to contact. I stumbled on the blog about your visit to St Mary the Virgin Astley, near Nuneaton Warwickshire as I was researching for helping out at an open event at the church. I’m glad you found our ‘hidden gem’ interesting. Would you mind if I used/credited some of your images- so much better than my limited efforts. Any visitor donations will be given as a result on this month Heritage Open days – 9th-11th, of course to the upkeep of the building.
    Kind regards,

  17. Robin Walker says:

    Please forgive this somewhat unorthodox way of contacting you personally: I could not discover a more direct route.

    I am compiling a bibliography of books related to the University of Cambridge, and have come to “Backstairs Cambridge” by your mother Jane. Where I quote author’s names, I like to disambiguate them as far as possible from other people of the same name. I wonder, therefore, whether you are able to tell me her maiden name, middle names (if any), and year dates of birth and death.

    If you are also able to give any hints about the book’s illustrator Lucille Cranwell, that would be an added bonus.

    Many thanks in advance for any help you are able to give.

  18. Robert Forsythe says:


    ” This summer we will be moving back to Hexham in Northumberland.” Do make sure you catch up with myself and Fiona in Prudhoe when you make the move. Although we now live in both Castle Douglas and Prudhoe as Clare our daughter is getting married Nov 4.

  19. Lynn Bayne says:

    Hello Peter: Could you assist me in seeing the church where my great-grandfather, Peter Cooke Jones, was vicar. My husband and i will be in England in mid-June and I would like to see St.James and the vicarage where my grandmother, Edith Marion Jones, grew up. We are wondering what are the travel options to get to Hunstanworth from either Newcastle-upon-Tyne or Durham. We will not be driving so we have to rely on some sort of public transportation. Any assistance you can provide will be greatly appreciated.Lynn.

  20. Lynn Bayne says:

    Thanks Peter. Hexham it is.We have enjoyed your blogs. Lynn.

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