Bothal, Northumberland – St Andrew

DSC00470A Sunday afternoon drive – if we’d gone to a garden centre we’d be really middle aged. St Andrew’s Bothal is quite close, and yet I have never visited (though I have done the lovely walk from Morpeth to Bothal and back along the River Wansbeck). The church is at NZ240866, it is an interesting road up and down the river bank. It is not always open, though their website invites visitors to contact them, and the guidebook says it is open Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday afternoons in the summer. Today John the Vicar was about to take a baptism when I arrived.

A nice guidebook to the church, castle, Lady Chapel and village. It was written by Barry Mead who has been to Ponteland on a few occasions to give some good talks. A fascinating Grade 1 church. There was a Saxon church, though I missed the Anglo-Saxon carved stone in the north wall of the Chancel, and then a Norman Church was built during the first half of the C12. Richard Bertram was Lord of the Manor and the man behind it, what relation was he to Roger Bertram who built Ponteland’s tower? Richard’s son Robert was given the title “Baron of Bothal” by Richard I in the 1190s, and he enlarged St Andrew’s in the early C13 – he added the Chancel, South Chapel and North Aisle. In 1343 Robert Bertram IV (sounds very American!) added the South Aisle. The nave roof is late C14 – not many 600 year old roofs still doing the job they were designed for. There were a couple of Victorian restorations, and major repairs in 2011.


The most magnificent tomb is the Ogle Tomb. Ralph Ogle, second Lord of Bothal was born in 1468 and died in 1513. His wife was Margaret Gascoigne. It originally stood in the North Aisle and was moved to the South Aisle in the late 1600s. When it was moved some of the side panels were put back in the wrong place. I think the figures are beautiful.


The graves in the North Aisle are Robert Bertram I and Lord Owen Ogle (C15).


The Skull memorial is for Anna, wife of Dionysius Wilson, who died when she was 22 and was buried on 2 April 1612.


I find it a little surprising that most of the wording on this tablet is in Latin, except for the Bible quotation in English.


There is some nice medieval glass in various windows.


There is also some late Victorian glass in the Chancel, including the East Window. John looks a little female.



There are some nice silk banners hanging on the north wall.


There are some wonderful figures and carvings in the Nave – stone and wood.


It is a lovely church from outside. One of the bells is dated 1615 and the yew trees are great, as are the wide variety of trees on the north side. William Charles Ellis (Rector 1861 until 1923) was the noted horticulturalist who planted them – there is a memorial to him in church. DSC00446DSC00475


I missed various stone coffins and an old font by the door. I think that one of these chest tombs is of William Lawson who built Longhirst Hall in 1824, and the other one is of George Smalridge, Rector 1761 to 1804. The memorial is in a poor state of repair, but apparently says “Here lieth to rot the body of George Smalridge who was permitted by Providence to drag through a miserable existence of 43 years as the Rector and Scourge of this Parish. He lived without Virtue and died with Repentance on the ?? day of January 1804 aged 70 years. In vain the Garb of Virtue he put on who preached up Piety and practised none. Let Guilt take breathe, and all the Sons of sin have time like him to mend their manners in.” Wonderful.

DSC00478The War Memorial was erected in 1923. The flowers are lovely and the trees are special. The weeping ash on the left represents the tears of the fallen, and on the right the leaves of the Japanese maple turn bright red in the autumn, symbolising the blood of the fallen. What a lovely idea. There are photos of them in church.


I couldn’t stay longer as the Baptism party arrived, so we went and had coffee in Morpeth.


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One Response to Bothal, Northumberland – St Andrew

  1. Tom Hughes says:

    Delightful story. The Rev Ellis, so long the rector of Bothal, was separated from his wife, the mother of his many children. She was the appellant or petitioner in the divorce papers – which I have not seen.

    I hope to visit Bothal church very soon as part of my research.

    It isnt Northumnerland but Romaldkirk is nearby and I recently posted about a Victorian rector there on my blog

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