Kirkwhelpington – St Bartholomew

We decided it is a very long time since we have had a drive-round-Northumberland-and-find-lots-of-churches day. So on Saturday 11 July we drove north up the A696. There was a plan to do a tourist church trail along this road, here is my version – none of these churches I called into today can even muster a guidebook. On this occasion I found Kirkwhelpington, came into the village, jammed on the brakes and pulled onto the verge. I was yelled at by my passenger. “But, look, it’s a North Eastern Railway bench”. She wasn’t impressed. You do get some strange looks lying on the verge photographing snakes on a bench. One NER bench should be sufficient – Kirkwhelp has two! By the other bus stop, just down the road, is another wonderful bench. Presumably they were both rescued from the local station. You very rarely see them with the snakes with their tails. The bottom one is at Beamish Museum, and gives an idea what it would have looked like.

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Right, I suppose we should do the church …. . The church of St Bartholomew is in the middle of the village – NY996844 – and is a lovely, substantial church, mainly C13. There would have been a Norman church on this site, and excavations show there were aisles and transepts. Pevsner says “The story is even more confused by the presence of a steeply pointed tower arch to the nave which has two orders of scalloped capitals, the outer order with finely scrolled volutes, and extremely bold zigzag decoration in the arch both towards the E and W”. Now you know why a simpler guidebook would be a good idea! Some nice flowers in the porch, along with the Vicars’ list, and nice door.

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july b 072july b 074Inside, the arch is quite spectacular, and this other banner (their Millennium banner, not that they can spell Millennium on the accompanying notice) is good too. I liked the roof bosses too. A very pointy Chancel arch.

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There are some interesting memorials. Here is one to Charles Algernon Parsons, marine engineer. He was born in London in 1854, the son an earl. He graduated from St John’s Cambridge in 1877 with a first class degree in maths, and then (very unusually) became an apprentice at Armstrong’s in Newcastle. In 1884 he developed a turbine engine and electrical generator that were able to produce a good supply of electricity cheaply – within five years he had supplied 350 of these steam turbines. He came up with the idea of powering a ship by steam turbine, and in 1894 he produced Turbinia,  now in the Discovery Museum in Newcastle – website. She could travel at over 34 knots when the fastest warships of the day only managed speeds of 27 knots and Parsons decided to showcase his technology by gate-crashing the naval review of 1897, which was to honour Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. He set up the Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company; by 1904, 26 ships powered by steam turbines were in operation. Parsons was knighted in 1911 and admitted to the Order of Merit in 1927. He died in 1931 and is buried in the churchyard. There were memorial services for him in Newcastle Cathedral, St John’s Cambridge and Westminster Abbey.

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charles parsons

The record of their son’s death is here.

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There are some fascinating monuments in the Chancel too, on the wall and floor. It is a nice chancel, with Sedilia too.

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Good windows, I assume the plain one is by Leonard Evetts.

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Outside I had a wander round the churchyard – lovely tombs.

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8 Responses to Kirkwhelpington – St Bartholomew

  1. David Pattison says:

    ……. what about the grave of A.R.D.Pattison, FRCS? His grave is in the churchyard. No further mention of this great man: pioneering neurosurgeon based in Newcastle ( Newcastle General Hospital). Look him up on the internet …….. should be included in church information …..too late for a memorial in the church one wonders …..
    D C Pattison ……(nephew ).

  2. Barbara May says:

    Hi Interesting article but no mention of who the Vicar was during 1800 – 1916 .Lady Kathleen’s father was the Vicar at one of the Church’s in Kirkwhelpington during these years . Kathleen married Wm H Armstrong 1863- 1942 who lived at Cragside and became a Rt Hon. and later Baron I believe. He was married twice. I am interested to know who Kathleen’s father was, the Vicar. Then there is the other interest of mine – the famous Charles Parsons because my Great Grandfather worked with him on the Turbinia in the Sea Trials. Any further information would be most welcome.

  3. Graham Carlisle says:

    Thank you for interesting information; though I come to this from a different direction.
    I have a copy of T. Bewick’s History of British Birds 1797 with a bookplate which has an image of what is almost certainly Kirkwhelpington church, preceeding the ‘restorations’ of the 1890’s. The bookplate is of the (first?) owner of the book: J. G. Hodgson. I believe this could be the vicar of the church for this period. Although a curate and historian is mentioned on the web with initials: J. C.
    The book has fascinating annotations which point to the owner of the book living close to Whelpington.
    I have found no other images on the web showing the church pre alteration by the victorians; so this might be interesting to others. Any ideas about J.G or J.C. would be welcome.

  4. Judith Cook says:

    Interesting pictures of the Church, and Churchyard. I am however disappointed that there are no photos of the Swinburne Mausoleum. Is there any way I can get photos as I am researching the Swinburne Family ,my Grandmother was a Swinburne.

  5. Judith Cook says:

    Hello Graham. I may be able to help you with your query about JG Hodgson. He is possibly the John Hodgson who wrote the “History of Northumberland” You will need to get Part 2 V0l 1. On page 203 is an early etching of St. Bartholomew Church.

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