Thursday, 2 June 2016

Getting the chills in the village of Chillingham, Northumberland

Chillingham Wild Cattle sign Back in the holiday cottage, on one of the picture maps of Northumberland, we had spotted a picture of some white cattle and as I'd also seen them mentioned in the local mythology book too I was intrigued to know more. Added to this, the local church looked a beauty and off we went to explore.......

There's a castle at Chillingham, an extremely haunted one with a torture chamber. The views into the estate are magnificent, bats on the gates and a vista with a bronze statue of Viscount Gough on horseback. Edward I used the castle as a fortress for his warring with the mighty William Wallace and then it became home to the Grey family. These days it's a privately owned attraction that you can visit. You can read more about the castle's history and ghosts here.

The white Chillingham cattle are an ancient herd and well hidden away, you can go on a tour to see them. Fierce in nature and not approachable, the herd of around 100 have no veterinary treatment and are left basically to their own devices. We saw no glimpse of them and with having the dogs couldn't go on the cattle walk or into the castle but nevermind for there was the church to have a look at and I was excited about the tomb in there.
Chillingham bat gates Chillingham drinking fountain Chillingham Castle and bronze statue St Peter's Parish church, founded in the 12th century has some interesting graves in the churchyard and inside has a medieval tomb that is glorious - the best I've ever seen. It's 15th Century and is for Sir Ralph Grey and his wife Elizabeth with their effigies on the top of the tomb chest. Walking through the churchyard through the lush grass I found some nice 17th century gravestones with angels and lots of moss and lichen on them. The church is right next door to a gatehouse of the castle. St Peter's Parish Church Chillingham 18th century gravestone Nice box pews but not so keen on the modern east window and altar, very jarring with the rest of the the nave of Chillingham St Peter's
A very early grave slab now in the foundations of the wall as often happens.foliate leaf tombstone church banner There are traces of paint on the tomb and all the saints around the sides are such a rare survivor, normally such iconoclastic symbols were destroyed in the Reformation or Puritan times. Such beautiful detail of saints in niches and angels. This is why I love to look around churches, you never know what you are going to find and learn about. 15th century decorated tomb saints and angels Northumberland map Sir Ralph Grey with his feet resting upon a lion.Sir Ralph Grey tomb Northumberland You can often find old photos on the walls of churches, invaluable if you are into the history of them. This one shows how the church used to have a gallery, extra seating space up high. Very few churches still have galleries so it was great to see this picture. old photographs St Peter's Church Chillingham Opposite is a gatehouse to the castle, I wonder how many many have passed this way over the centuries from there to the church. Maybe one of the ghost hunts at the castle would show us...St Peter's Chillingham gate


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