Heddon-on-the-Wall – St Andrew

I had been to Heddon (NZ135669) before, on a trip with our Coffee Club, and this time visited with dad. The Wardens were sitting in the meeting room they’ve inserted at the west end, and gave us a guided tour and a cup of coffee. They have done a lot of work on the tourist potential of the church – realising that all visitors are welcome visitors.

It would be lovely to think that Roman Christians worshipped on this site, the Wall is only a few hundred yards to the north. The original church is Saxon, with a suggested date of 650, and you can see Saxon work in the chancel. One suggestion is that Heddon is the village of Oswy, King of Northumbria, where, according to Bede, Finian second bishop of Lindisfarne baptised two future kings in 653 AD.

This cross is probably quite ancient – is it an original preaching cross?






This is a fascinating stone – one story gives it Arthurian links … Excalibur, the Round Table, and a more lady-like something on the left???

This is a lovely east window – a Jesse window showing Jesus’ family tree, with David and Solomon. It was inserted in 1873.

The rest of the stained glass is by the firm of C.E. Kempe & Co. Ltd, installed in 1921, and they are a lovely set. Every window has a saint or two (or more), all beautifully clothed, and many of them local. There are some nice photos of them in the recent book Cuthbert and the Northumbrian Saints by Paul Frodsham – published by Northern Heritage at £12.99.

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/peter.fairweather/docs/Kempe_mainpage.htm gives a biography of Charles Kempe, and there is a good article at the Church Times website http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/content.asp?id=46977. Born in Sussex in 1837 his original plan was to seek ordination, but he had an acute stammer so that was not possible. While in Oxford he was influenced by the work of Burne-Jones and William Morris and decided, in his own words, that if he could not serve God in the sanctuary, he would make the decoration of the sanctuary his life’s work. He started work with the firm of Clayton and Bell, then founded his own firm. Some of his work is in Simonburn church in north Northumberland. He died in 1906, but the firm continued until 1934. There are two books about him and his work, but as Amazon says one costs over £50 and the other is unobtainable, I won’t add them to my Christmas list.

All in all, a rather nice church. Heddon station is miles from the village, on the old line across to North Wylam (opened 1885, closed 1958), and there are nice photos of that at http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/h/heddon_on_the_wall/index.shtml. I must have walked past it while doing the Wall.

We went on and lunched in the village of Horsley – www.thehearth.co.uk. A good bacon sandwich!

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