Ryal – All Saints

Back in the depths of winter we had driven the road from Belsay Castle across Ingoe Moor (top photo is looking north at about NZ041762) and came to All Saints’ church at Ryal (NZ016742). It is in the middle of a small hamlet, and the church was – understandably – locked. I did photo these rather interesting stones by the door.

On Saturday 22 January, on the way back from a Barrasford lunch, we stopped – and the church was open. Entering the church and looking east, it’s a lovely little stone-built church – a twelfth century chapel of ease rebuilt in 1870.

Looking west, the west wall is stunning:

According to Pevsner they are 19 medieval Cross Slabs – but there is nothing more about them on the web.




This altar has a Roman feel to it – it would look nice in my garden! There is also a memorial tablet to those killed in the building of Whittington Tunnel and Aqueduct. I assume that must be a local construction – part of the Catcleugh system? – but I can’t find a mention on the web.

Outside is rather lovely too. This is a gorgeous little church, part of the Stamfordham / Matfen group, and has a service every Sunday afternoon.

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5 Responses to Ryal – All Saints

  1. Ray Ion says:

    St. Peter .. Regarding the memorial tablet in All Saints Church, Ryal.
    You are correct in your thinking about the Catcleugh pipeline having something to do with the Whittington Tunnel and Aqeduct.
    This is roughly what happened over 100 years ago.
    The construction of Colt Crag reservoir began in 1863 but was not completed until 1884 because of some unknown (to me) hold up. In the meantime (1869- 1872) Hallington East reservoir was built (West a bit later 1884-90) and together these reservoirs sent approx. 9 million gallons of water per day South East to Whittle Dene reservoirs via pipeline, tunnels and open aqueducts. This system worked well but with the construction of Catcleugh reservoir (1895-05) the existing tunnels and aqueducts could not cope with what was now going to be 15 mgd of water. An extra tunnel was now needed and this was to be constructed (do you construct a tunnel ?) in time for Catcleugh sending out it’s 1st supply of water. The date on the memorial (1901-05) tallies with the opening of the Catcleugh pipeline.
    The Catcleugh pipeline, after leaving Redesdale, travels South towards Gunnerton then turns East to meet up with the Colt Crag pipeline close to the stone building in the field on the East side of the A68 just North of the entrance to Swinburne Quarry.
    The new (and old) tunnel is roughly 2.5 miles in distance running from the area around Matfen Hall to an area North East of Grindstone Law farm which is West of Ryal. During construction a temporary hutted village was erected in what is now the grounds of Matfen Hall and not far from Matfen Wood.
    There is another small reservoir (Little Swinburne built around the same time as Colt Crag and situated between Colt Crag and Hallington) which is part of the system as well.
    This now means that together with the brass plaque in Byrness Church (for Catcleugh reservoir) there are two Church memorials remembering those who lost their lives during works carried out by the Newcastle and Gateshead Water Company.
    Hope this is of some help both to you and others.
    I have really enjoyed reading (and YES I have spread the word) about what you do on your days off !!

    Best Wishes …… Ray Ion

  2. Keith Atkinson says:

    Entries in the Ordnance Survey Object Name Books of the 1860s sometimes provided interesting historical information, in this case the chapel of ease at Ryal.
    All Saints, Ryal was reported as “An old chapel belonging to the Church of England. It is partially ruinous and is not and never will be used as a Chapel again, a new one having been erected recently [1842] in the village of Matfen. There is a graveyard attached. Every inquiry has been instituted to find out its patron saint but without success.” All Saints’ Church, Ryal, thought to date from the 12th century, was restored in 1879.

    • Ros Allen says:

      Interestingly there are several Mary Atkinsons on this branch of the tree and a recurring name of Jacob Atkinson as well.

  3. Ros Allen says:

    I am researching family history, and in the 1851 Census family relatives, the Halls, are living in Ryal, but the ennumerator has omitted to annotate the address of each family. The church is always central to a community and I wondered whether you might add any clues to my investigations as the family seems complex. Thanks in anticipation.

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