Having skidded back down the valley we came through the hamlet of Alwinton, crossed the River Alwin, and turned up to the church (NT924057). Up being the operative word. The have an excellent magazine (“Over the Bridges) and a new parish website is excellent. It has quite a lot about each church, and they have just started a blog. A parish of 180 square miles – one of the largest in England. http://coquetdaleanglican.org/alwinton/ is the main parish website; there is another for the concerts they hold there (which look wonderful) – http://www.alwintonconcerts.org/
Outside the church there is an open air Easter Garden which is rather nice, and it is a bit of a stride up into the south door of the church. Not sure I’d like my headstone being used as a paving slab.
Inside the word “up” takes on a whole new meaning – I’m used to a couple of steps up to the Chancel, but this is ridiculous.
There was a Norman chapel on this site, a square Nave and a plain narrow arch leading to the Chancel. The choir was rebuilt and lengthened in the 12th century, and soon after narrow aisles were added. In the 14th century the Chancel floor was raised to provide a crypt for the Clennell family – I wonder how many generations of old ladies have cursed the Clennell family as they struggle up the stairs to the altar.
In 1627 the curate, Alexander Menzies, recorded that “The walls of the church and chancel are in great decay. No glass and noe doores for the church, but that it fell open.” It seems to have taken another century before it was repaired, and a century after that a Durham architect, George Pickering, was (to quote their website) “let loose” on the building. The nave was completely pulled down and rebuilt. There’s a few nice tombstones in the north aisle – jam and marmalade on sale (very nice) and facilities for making tea and coffee (“Free. Help youselves”).