I love the drive north from Ponteland up the A696 in the direction of Carter Bar and Scotland – and it is silly that I’ve done so few of the churches along it. We went out on Saturday 24 July, and turned right along a road signposted “Elsdon – light vehicles only”. I like roads like this – Julie is never quite as keen! Elsdon NY936933 is a gorgeous little village – a village green, a Pele Tower, a church, and a tea room. The tea room was a pleasure – it is a cyclists’ cafe, front room of a home, lots of people sitting outside in the sun. Two steps to get onto the terrace. My wife walks with crutches – immediately a table was brought down to our level. The fried egg sandwich was everything a fried egg sandwich should be – ah, if my blood pressure nurse reads this … and the apple pie and ice cream … – (that should be OK – apple is one of my five a day).
Then I wandered into St Cuthbert’s church – open and gorgeous.
Pevsner says it is a church “with a complex history; it was once larger than it is”. Various bits are 12th century – though there must have been one here much earlier than that. Apparently Cuthbert’s body rested here – presumably Corsenside was the next stop. The arcades were added in the 14th century. The bell turret dates to 1720 – “the most conspicuous feature of the church, a heavy square piece with two tiers of ball finials and a stumpy spirelet. It is splendidly wild and rustic.” Marvellous prose!
Lovely nave and very narrow arcades.
Up at the East End I liked the sedilia, and used my privileged role as a Clerk in Holy Orders to photograph the priest’s heating system:
There are wonderful monuments all round the church. The earliest is a Roman tombstone found NE of the fort at High Rochester, erected to a commanding officer Rufinus by his wife Lucilla, the daughter of a senator. In the churchyard some more wonderful stones.