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Stamfordham Church of St Mary

In the civil parish of Stamfordham.
In the historic county of Northumberland.
Modern Authority of Northumberland.
1974 county of Northumberland.
Medieval County of Northumberland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NZ07657200
Latitude 55.04253° Longitude -1.88207°

Stamfordham Church of St Mary has been described as a probable Fortified Ecclesiastical site.

There are no visible remains.

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Parish church. Possibly Saxon quoins at west end of nave, also blocked Saxon, early Romanesque arch in west wall of tower. Elsewhere C13, extensively restored 1847 by Benjamin Ferrey. Squared stone and ashlar with fish-scale tile roof. Tower, nave with aisles, chancel and vestry.
Tower: 3 storeys. Small lancets on ground and 1st floor; paired-lancet bell opening with roll-moulded surround and central column with waterleaf capital.
4-bay nave with 2 lancets to each bay. Buttresses between the bays. The detail all of 1847.
3-bay chancel is more clearly of re-used C13 masonry. The plinth, priests' door and string are Ferrey's but the windows seem original (cf. interior). East end has 3 stepped lancets.
North vestry has picturesque tall octagonal chimney with pyramidal cap.
Interior: porch has 3 medieval grave covers and part of C15 tomb with 2 angels bearing shield. Round rere-arches to tower lancets. Arcade of double-chamfered arches re-cut but original; the octagonal piers are replacements. West piers have heavily-restored stiff-leaf capitals. West responds and slightly-ogival tower arch are original. Chancel arch and east responds have triple-shafted corbels. Chancel windows with roll-moulded surrounds, and east window with multi-.moulded surround. Trefoiled piscina. Chancel south side: segmental niche with effigy of knight; north side segmental niche with dogtooth and effigy of priest. Also in chancel half a C13 effigy of knight, wall tablet to Dixon family 1721 and later, with coat of arms. North aisle: John Swinburne, 1653; large standing monument with Baroque carving in the style of Capheaton Hall. South aisle: part of C14 relief of the crucifixion built into east wall; also a painted cartouche to Wm. Akenside, and Sam his son, 1776. (Listed Building Report)

There was an early medieval Saxon church here in C8. An arch from this building can be seen in the Norman medieval tower, built in C13. The church was restored in 1848.
Brook writes 'The tower is strongly built with few narrow windows and a small tower arch making it defensible'. As with other parish churches described as defensible by Brooke the actual 'defensive' features can be explained as structural (in this case a Norman Church incorporating, and partly based upon, earlier Saxon work - for which a 'small' tower arch would be usual). All parish churches could be used as places of refuge during raids and there is apparently some evidence of a fire set against the door to the tower but most raids were aimed at taking livestock ("In 1374 livestock belonging to the vicar of Stamfordham was stolen and his servants were attacked." - Heddon-on-the-Wall Local History Society website) and the actual risk to persons can be overstated. However, while Gatehouse does not think the intent was to build a fortified church tower the narrow entrance to the tower does mean this tower was more than usually adaptable as a defensive structure.
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:09

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