THE CHURCH AT ANCROFT

Ancroft was one of four chapelries which the monks of Holy Island established to consolidate their estates on the mainland. The others were at Tweedmouth, Lowick and Kyloe. The monks of Holy Island seem to have built the church around 1089 and interestingly the stone for Lindisfarne Priory came from Cheswick in Ancroft parish. The

dedication is to Saint Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Despite repeated restoration work, several fine features of the original Norman building still remain:

1. The south wall of the nave, west of the buttress;

2. The blocked up original doorway the west of the present door;

3. The bottom section of the tower; 4. The round headed window in the west wall;

5. The corbel table (the arched stones below gutter level) from the west angle to the east end of the nave.

The tower is 13th century or very early 14th century and is a good example of a peel tower. It is unusual in that it is actually attached to the church.

Before a parsonage house was built in the early 19th century, the three storey tower provided the living quarters for the priest who served the parishes of Ancroft and Tweedmouth.

Holy Island and its castle can be seen from the top of the tower.

The east end stained glass window was put in as a memorial to the Rev. William Hewitt who restored the church in 1836 after finding it in a  ruinous state.

During the incumbency of Mr. Henderson, later Archdeacon of Northumberland, the church underwent further, typically Victorian, restoration and extension. 1883 saw repair work carried out on the tower. A large new bell was provided to hang alongside a smaller one

which came from John Wesley's Foundery Chapel in London. The original font had been

removed during the time of Oliver Cromwell  and is now in Chillingham church. The present

font was carved out of stone from Finchale  Abbey  in  County Durham. The panels were carved by an Italian sculptor employed at Durham Cathedral.

Conflicting stories claim that the font  was  given  by  either Archdeacon Thorp, warden of

Durham University at the time, or by the Rev Dr Gilly.

A little to the west of the tower is the headstone which marks the graves of the eight nuns who escaped from France   during the Revolution, They lived at Haggerston under the protection of Sir Carnaby Haggerstone.

Inside the churchyard gate, to the west are some steps known as the "Louping on  stane" by which a woman who was going   to   ride behind a horseman could mount to the saddle in a decorous and

dignified manner.

 

 

 

Activities