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Heddon super Murum:

The History of Heddon on the Wall


by George Clarke (c.1963)
Part 1: The Church of St Andrew
And the rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house;
and it fell not for it was founded upon a rock. St. Matt. VII 25
St Andrews, parish church of Heddon, occupying the site of a high summit is veritably built upon a
rock, the sentinel and symbol, through centuries of a host of witnesses to the abiding love of God.
There is no record of its foundation, there may even have been here a place of worship in Roman
times, but the first builders chose a very significant site for their little sacred edifice here in Saxon
times.
Archaeologists and antiquarians have expressed divergent opinions on the period of building of the
Saxon church; some assign its building to the earliest Saxon churches at Corbridge and Escomb about
AD 650, whilst others favour a later date, between AD 800-950. The fact that in the Hundred Rolls in
AD 1274, Heddon appears as Edwinistre may suggest that, like Ad Gefrin (Yeavering Bell) and
Edwinesburgh (Edinburgh), it was one of the hill forts of King Edwin; however there are reasonable
grounds for identifying Heddon super Murum with Ad Murum, the royal villa of Oswy, which the
Venerable Bede plainly says was close to the Wall, at the distance of twelve miles from the eastern
sea. Bede also tells us the Wall was built from sea to sea; measuring this distance along its course,
where would Ad Murum be if not at Heddon super Murum, the twelfth milecastle. It is interesting
to note that super Murum (Ad Murum) should have been attached to Heddon for many centuries.
In the Feodarys Book AD 1568, Heddon is referred to as ville de Heddon super Murum and as
Hedon super Murum in the Lay Subsidy Rolls of 1296 and 1336.
After the Roman evacuation and the Aelian Bridge was broken down, traffic upstream would be
diverted to Stannerford, opposite Close House, which in those days was the first safe ford up the
river, and after crossing it, travellers north would come to the Wall (Ad Murum) at Heddon.
Here then at Heddon in AD 653 both Peada, prince of the Middle Angles, and Sigebert, king of the
East Saxons were baptised with their followers, by Finan, Bishop of Lindisfarne, at the court of King
Oswy; and whence they took home with them to Repton and to Tilbury the missionaries who formed
the germs of the present dioceses of Lichfield and London (Bede, Eccles. History book III c.22).
We have many churches along the course of the Tyne dedicated to St Andrew, as was the one
Wilfred built at Hexham on his return from Rome, and it would be reasonable to assume that these
churches were built before the destruction of Hexham in the ninth century; the fact that Heddon
church is dedicated to St Andrew is some proof of its high antiquity.
The dedication of the church in honour of St Andrew continued until about the middle of the
eighteenth century, but in the visitation of Archdeacon Thomas Sharpe AD 1729 it was known as St
Phillip and St Andrew. This rather unusual dedication continued until AD 1772 when it became
known as St Phillip and St James, the saints who are coupled in the calendar. This dedication
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remained until AD 1886 when at the instigation of Cadwallader John Bates, its ascription was
restored to that of St Andrew.
Six townships comprised the Heddon parish in early times, viz: Heddon super Murum, East Heddon,
West Heddon, Houghton, Whitchester and Eachwick, although at one time East Heddon was known
as Hydewin or Hedwin. These six townships, originally independent of one another for civil
purposes, came to be grouped into one ecclesiastical parish, the reason is not known but possibly
many townships in Northumberland lost their churches through the desecration of the Danes in the
ninth century.
These six townships forming an enclave or isolated portion of the Barony of Styford after the
Norman conquest was bestowed by Henry I on Hugh de Bolbec during the period AD 1100-1135.
Hugh de Bolbecs grandson, Walter de Bolbec, who founded the monastery of Blanchland in AD
1165, gave all rights and patronage which he and his ancestors had in the Church of St Andrew at
Heddon to God and the Church of St Mary at Blanchland, and the canons serving God there, for the
sake of the souls of his father, and of his other ancestors by a charter witnessed by his lady, and
mother Sibilla, by his brother Hugh de Bolbec, by Wielard the parson of Styford, Hugh de Crawedon,
Reginald de Kenebell, Ralph de Gray and others. The Bolbecs derived their name from the town of
Bolbec, near the mouth of the Seine in Normandy, France. Blanchland in Northumberland (probably
until then called Walwardhope) derived its name from the priory of Blanche-Lande (Blancha-Landa)
in Normandy founded in AD 1155.
On obtaining this grant of Heddon Church is about AD 1165, the canons of Blanchland appear to
have immediately commenced building the present church, as was usual for monastic foundations,
to rebuild or improve churches given to them.
The original Saxon church at Heddon would be a plain and simple building, consisting of a sanctuary
or apse and an aisle-less nave with no buttresses, its windows few and placed high up in the rough
walls. The sanctuary would be where are now placed the choir stalls, and the nave would extend to
the third pillar and its width would be between the present pillars. The foundations of the south wall
of this old nave, in line with the pillars, were revealed in AD 1937 when the floor was renewed; and
the foundations at the east end, seen from under the vestry floor are of Saxon origin. Little is now
visible of the Church of St Andrew before AD 1165 except for the quoin or corner of rough stones
still seen outside built in for eighteen inches into the east wall of the south aisle. This piece of long
and short work has been the east end of the south wall of the very early nave, and has been
assigned to the earliest period of Saxon building in Northumbria, i.e. the latter part of the seventh
century.
The canons of Blanchland, in their efforts to rebuild and improve the old Saxon edifice, commenced
their work at the east end and in building this, the present sanctuary, those Norman builders
expended much of their skill and art as was consistent with the style of architecture at that time, for
the Normans were renowned church builders.
By a very fine zigzag or chevron arch unique in both construction and position, the Norman chancel
is divided into two portions, the vaulted sanctuary to the east and the choir to the west. The chevron
or double row of teeth stick out horizontally from the arch and not as in most cases perpendicularly.
Similar arches of this fashion are to be seen at Norham and Jedburgh, and perhaps most fine of all at
St Peters Northampton, and in the great hall of Rochester Castle.
The flat springers of the arch stand on either side four inches further in than the springers of the
double ribs that support the vault. On the north side, the flat springer of the arch is six inches high,
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that of the double rib eight inches; on the south side the proportions are reversed, being seven and
five and a half inches respectively. A string course runs round the interior of the east portion only;
slabs are laid at its north-east and south-east angles to carry single pilasters set cornerwise on, from
which the double ribs of the vault spring intersecting each other, over to the triple semi-columns, set
on similar slabs, but in the line of the walls, and which support the zigzag arch. These triple pilasters
have all flat-faced capitals, with escalloped or invected edges. The north cluster differs from the
south in having what look like small stems between the escalloping. The bases of the two single
pilasters and of the two clusters are all different.
One of the origin little round headed Norman windows, a mere six inch slit, three feet long and
widely splayed on the inside is preserved in the north wall near the altar. There was probably a
similar window in the east wall. A small lamp ring is still seen inserted in the key-stone of the vaulted
sanctuary. In the choir of the chancel, in the south wall outside, there is a doorway with a single
large lintel stone and which must have belonged to the Saxon period; and in the north wall, above
the present vestry door, is a semi-circular doorhead in a single stone and which also appears of
ancient character. This doorhead appears now at a great height from the ground, but the bases of
the chancel arch prove the chancel floor to have been originally about eight inches above the
present level. An external door in the north wall of a chancel is an unusual feature; there was one at
Jarrow. Part of the splay of a Norman window was found in the north wall to the west of this
doorway, in breaking the arch for the organ chamber; it was covered with red and black frescoing
which appears to have been general throughout the church and was especially noticed on the simple
Norman font. There are portions of the walls in the choir which have a Saxon appearance, some
larger stones set high up may hide the original Saxon windows. The flattened appearance of the
zigzag arch has given rise to much speculation and conjecture as to its cause, a small key-stone
seems to have been inserted.
There is a perceptible leaning of the chancel walls towards the outside. The enormous number of
internments in the chancel may have caused the foundations to subside, more than a thousand
persons have probably been buried in the church.
Mrs Jane Cowling, widow, formerly of Richmond, was interred in the Quire under ye easter Little
Window, Jan. ye 25th AD 1707/8 (Heddon Register). The easter Little Window probably means the
original Norman east window. Mrs Jane Cowling was the mother-in-law of the Rev. Miles Birkett,
vicar of Heddon AD 1693-1709. Her internment under, or just behind the communion table appears
now revolting and irreverent; but then it was quite in the ordinary course, for we read also that
Mary, dau. to James Carmichael, vicar, was buried in the church nigh the south end of the
communion table 9th September 1712; her sister, Eleanor on 26th April 1721, nigh the south wall just
below the steps ; while their father and mother both buried in the chancel, within the rails.
The dimensions of the sanctuary are 15ft 11 east to west by 13ft 5 north to south and the choir
16ft 9 in length.
It has been suggested that the depression of the zigzag arch may have been caused by the superincumbent weight of the east wall of a central tower between this arch and the nave. The
abandonment of this project, or the fall of the tower would account for the slightly later date of the
west portion of the chancel.
On the outside of the chancel, this zigzag arch is supported by two characteristic Norman buttresses
that finish off with a rough slope to a string course just below the parapet. About 8 feet from the
ground these buttresses are crossed by the semi-hexagonal string course that runs round the walls
and corner buttresses of the east portion of the chancel, but it is not continued round the west
portion; as previously stated, the interior string course also just runs around the east portion. This is
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a point worthy of note in the controversy of the east and west portions of the chancel; it is also to be
noted that on the exterior of the chancel south wall, the courses of masonry of the east and west
parts are on different levels. It can also be said that the masonry of both the interior and exterior of
the west portion and that of the east are anything but homogeneous masonry. It was the opinion of
Mr Cadwallader John Bates, that the canons of Blanchland found the Church of St Andrews at
Heddon consisting simply of an ancient nave, with an apse at the east end. With the intention of
building an entirely new church, they began the vaulted compartment over the present altar to the
east of the apse, in order to have this ready for the celebration of mass before pulling down the old
nave. The zigzag arch was to have been the chancel arch of the new church but when this sanctuary
was finished, the canons changed their minds, from motives of economy and joined it on as best
they could to the old nave, destroying the apse in the process.
In doing this they may have intended to or even built a second Norman arch to link up with the nave;
it is not known if this second arch was ever built, or whether it collapsed or was removed, but the
pillars and capitals of this second arch are typically Norman and represent the second stage of
Norman work in the church. The arch these pillars now support is not Norman but a fine example of
later work, about AD 1250. The semi-octagonal shafts of this arch rise from different levels, the
north one having the more elaborate capital with a nail-head moulding, the south one [with] more
refined base. There can be little doubt that the present choir of the chancel occupies the site of the
sanctuary of the early Saxon church.
It is evident, that when this rebuilding of the chancel was being done, the old Saxon nave was still
standing and it was on this ancient nave that the Norman builders next turned their attention.
Before the close of the twelfth century, about AD 1190, the two eastern bays of the north aisle were
built, representing a very noble example of Transition work. Both the semi-column at the chancel
corner and the column west of it have elaborate Norman capitals and the arches they support are
massive and pointed. Another bay was then added with its round column of much the same
character but much higher than the Transition ones and supporting a wide soaring arch. On
completion of the north aisle, work was then commenced on the south aisle early in the thirteenth
century about AD 1220, with the building of three bays and arches.
The work on the south aisle shows a much more distinctive and expert character in church building
to that of the north aisle and which provides interesting comparison. Here on the south side we have
much finer dressed and more closely fitting stones, the pillars with cleaner carved octagonal capitals,
and the arches with internal ribs; the moulding over the arches does not come down to the capitals
as it does over those of the north aisle. It was at about this time also when the two double-lancet
windows were inserted in the south wall of the chancel, which have carved between the tops of
their lights, curious faces, the one in the east window crowned.
When the building of these aisles and outside walls was completed, the whole nave was roofed in
one long straight pitch, the mark of which can still be seen on the outside east wall of the south
aisle. As was usual at that time, the walls of the aisles would be very low, and the windows, if any at
all, would be small. From the report of Arch-deacon Thos Robinsons Visitation in AD 1760, there
were no windows at all in the north aisle. The principle door of the church opened into the
westernmost bay (at that time) of the south aisle, which would have some sort of dormer or gable
for additional height from that of the wall.
The detached shafts of this doorway are still seen and which have square capitals supporting a bold
architecture with a hood moulding over it , but now covered by the rough acute-arched vaulting of
the porch added in the fourteenth century; the bases of the shafts are hidden by stone seats. It
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would be at the time of the building of this porch when the walls of the aisles were raised and
roofed to a pitch flatter than the centre of the nave, though not so flat as their present pitch and is
also visible on the east wall of the south aisle.
From this period of rebuilding there is no record of any major change in the church until the middle
of the nineteenth century, the years AD 1841 to 1845, when a thorough renovation took place. The
gallery which had been erected at the west end of the church was taken down and the nave
lengthened by the addition of an extra bay to each aisle. The pillars and capitals of these two new
bays provide an interesting contrast, the stone facing eastward is 13th century work, that of the west
side being 19th century work. In place of the vestry which was under the gallery and pulled down, a
new but rather eccentric octagonal vestry was built out at the west end, the doorway leading into it
through the west wall can still be traced in the plaster. Plans of the nave are shown in a church book,
both before and after the alterations; the stairway to the old gallery breasted past the third pillar in
the north-west corner. The lay-out of the seating is shown with the names of those paying pew rents
for their respective pews.
The easter Little Window of the sanctuary, referred to in a previous page, was taken out at this
restoration, when a plain three light window with the Bewicke arms and the letters M.B. in coloured
glass was inserted. An account of the money required to complete the alterations is given; this
period of work lasted over a period of four years, AD 1841-45. An interesting item of expenditure in
the account is Lawsons bill for tablets with the commandments. What has happened to these
tablets of the ten commandments, for there is so trace of them now. The plumber work was in
account with Robert Watson, plumber, coppersmith, brass founder of High Bridge, Newcastle; an
allowance was made on the total of 24-15-11 for scrap of the old metal boiler, old pipes and lead
leaving a net amount of 21-0-0. A new wrought iron boiler and pipes were installed. This shows the
church had a central heating system prior to AD 1841.
The octagonal vestry at the west end was demolished in AD 1870 and a new one added on the north
side of the chancel, thus covering up its external features. From the church books we learn that the
Church Restoration committee decided on a thorough restoration of the church and fittings. Various
land-owners in the parish agreed to have their lands taxed according to their rateable value to
secure the sum of 500, and a further sum of 500 was promised by Mr Bewicke and also 100 by
Col. Joicey. This restoration took place in AD 1873-1874 when the church was re-roofed and reseated and the organ chamber inserted between the new vestry and the north aisle. Work was also
done in the sanctuary, where, up to this time, the spaces between the double rib vaulting had been
filled with lath and plaster; this was taken out and cement put in thus making the roof as solid and
hard as stone. Also done at this time was the removal of the plain glass and Bewicke arms and the
present beautiful glass inserted in the east windows.
A note left by the Rev. C Boulker showed the number of sittings (seats) dated 25th July 1893:
Appropriated
Free
Free Choir
Children

231
51
24
60
----366
With this number the Church would be closely packed.
As indeed it would be, but no such problem as packing the church presents itself today with the
apparent apathy towards church attendance.
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The three windows from east to west in the north aisle have on the outside the letters J.A.B. and the
date AD 1839 carved in the stone above; apparently a dedication to some person or other. (Bates
family).
It was during the incumbency of the Rev. Wm. G Pringle, vicar from 1905-1932, that the windows in
the nave (south aisle) were refitted with new very fine glass; this was done through the generosity of
Sir James and Lady Knott, one of the two light windows in the south wall being in memory of their
two sons, Major James Leadbitter Knott, D.S.O. and Captain Basil Knott who were killed in action in
the Great War 1914-18. The subjects of these windows are well chosen and give an interesting
picture of early church history, with early and latter day saints.
During the year 1934, the Rev. S. E. R. Fenning, vicar of Heddon 1932-35 put his shoe heel through
the flooring boards whilst walking across the vestry floor. Upon examination, it was found that the
floor was very badly affected by dry rot and the installation of a new vestry floor was proceeded
with. When the old flooring was taken out, the old Saxon foundations of the choir of the chancel
were to be seen; a short flight of stone steps was also discovered, these led to a walled up opening
of a tomb upon which is this forbidding inscription:
A Armstrong, Vicarius [vicar] et Isabella Uxor [wife] Woe be to him who disturb the ashes of the
dead lying in this little vault which was solely made at their own expense and for their own use AD
1781.
St Andrews, through the years, has been lighted as any other church, first by candles, then to oil
lamps and when the gas mains were laid to Heddon about 1910, gas lighting was installed, a great
boon at that time. A further improvement to the lighting of the church was made in 1936 during the
incumbency of the late Rev. Harold Nixon, when the church was fitted with electrical lighting given
by the Robinson family in memory of their father, Colonel Ernest Robinson, C.B.E., D.L., J.P. who died
at Heddon Hall 14th August 1935.
The tragic death of the Rev. H. Nixon in a motor accident near to St Davids, Pembrokeshire whilst on
holiday came as a great shock to the whole parish. The Rev. Nixon, aged 40 years, left a widow and a
very young daughter; he was interred at St Issells churchyard, Saundersfoot, Wales on 7th July 1936.
Through the generous assistance of the parishioners of Heddon, a further internal renovation of the
church was undertaken in 1937. When the old seating was removed and the flooring taken up, the
work of renovation proved to be much more difficult and costly than at first anticipated. Much of the
old earth, which was unwholesome and damp was removed, and was replaced with concrete,
special attention had to be given to the bases of the pillars of which part of the foundations had
given way, much grouting and concreting having to be done to them.
A most generous gift was made at this time of the beautiful oak seats by Elizabeth, Lady Knott, the
inscription reads:
This church was re-seated by Elizabeth Lady Knott in loving memory of her husband, Sir James Knott,
Baronet AD 1937.
Mr Hicks, church architect, carried out the work of reseating and by his very able work, the dignity
and character of the church was greatly enhanced; the pillars and their bases were now shown
revealing more clearly and pleasingly the architectural beauty of the church, where hitherto the
seating was cluttered up against the pillars tending to dwarf them. It was quite fitting that this
ancient church should be re-seated by seats which had been removed from its parent church, St

Nicholas Cathedral, Newcastle. The donor, Elizabeth Lady Knott was the second wife of Sir James
Knott.
A new central heating system was also installed, a new coke fired boiler, new circuit piping and
radiators.
The church porch was re-pointed by Messrs ... in 1954 at a cost of 31-0-0, and the whole church repointed in 1955 by Wm. Wallace of Heddon at a cost of 126-12-7.
A new boiler is now being installed, 12th October 1959, which can be fired either by coke or
automatically oil-fired; water is also to be piped up to the church in the same operation.
The dimensions of the nave are 51 ft 6 long, 20 ft wide and north and south aisles 10 ft in breadth.
On the final dissolution of the monastery at Blanchland in AD 1539, the right to present the living of
Heddon church passed to the Crown, which has held it to this present day, but in AD 1542 it was
granted for one turn only to Claxton and Mitford.
The corn tithes of West Heddon were assigned to the vicarage as a charitable augmentation from
the Crown. The impropriators of the tithes in AD 1760 are given as Sir Robert Bewicke and James
Wilkinson of Durham. Calverley Bewicke, the son of Robert Bewicke married Deborah Wilkinson, the
niece of William Wilkinson, and perhaps by some family arrangement the whole of the great tithes
of Heddon Parish became the property of the Bewickes.
Ralph Spearman wrote in AD 1815:
The present Mr Bewicke holds the corn tithes of Heddon and Houghton and a modus for Close House
and East Heddon, corn tithes of Eachwick are and have been held by my ancestors. Landowners of
the manor of Whitchester held their own tithe and the vicar the tithe of West Heddon.
In AD 1826, Archdeacon Singleton stated:
The impropriation is in the Bewicke family and produces annually about 250. The vicarage which
has vicarial tithes de jure and is endowed with the great tithes of West Heddon and is worth about
350.
As impropriators of the tithe rent charge the Bewickes were lay rectors and, in consequence, a duty
of keeping the chancel of the church in a proper state of repair lay upon them.
14th June AD 1813. Memorandum re respecting the Vicarage of Heddon on the Wall.
11th March AD 1796. The Rev. Thomas Allason was inducted to the temporal rights of the said
Vicarage by the Rev. Francis Read.
AD 1672. A true terrier containing an account of what belongs to the said vicarage signed by Samuel
Rayne, then vicar, and John and Thomas Pattinson, church-wardens.
AD 1724. Another copy of a terrier containing an account of the particulars of the living but not
signed by the vicar.
AD 1773. The above terrier by Samuel Rayne again signed by Andrew Armstrong then vicar, and John
Tubman and John Stappard, church-wardens.
AD 1807. Demand made by Mr J Armstrong (at that time valuing tithes for the vicar of Heddon) for
the tithe of lamb and calf, of the tenants of the township of East Heddon, they the said tenants, not
being able to prove or establish any prescriptive modus in lieu of the said tithe.

In the years AD 1805, 1806 and 1807, Mr James Armstrong acted as valuer and tithe agent for the
vicar of Heddon he finding it difficult to reconcile some of the farmers in the said parish to his
valuations, required Mr Thomas of Denton to assist him.
In the years AD 1810, 1811 and 1812, Mr Robert Ryle of Ponteland has been employed to value the
tithes of the said parish.
From the time of being inducted into the said vicarage, the Rev. Thomas Allason has invariably
wished to accommodate the parishioners at a fair and equitable rate with their tithes.
Notwithstanding his desire to accommodate and oblige his parishioners on the most reasonable and
moderate terms, some have frustrated his wishes by evading payment of their tithes by sinister
pretences, and converting their lands into a mode husbandry intentionally to deprive the vicar of his
just rights.
The different persons successively engaged to value the tithes of the said parish will verify the truth
of what is hearby alleged; as well as acknowledging the general recommendations given them to
value the tithes with such moderation as to preclude any just reason of complaint.
On account of various new buildings and improvements made and completed during the incumbency
of the Rev. Thomas Allason, a new Terrier has become necessary describing these alterations as
herewith annexed.
Heddon 2nd July 1827
A true note and Terrier of all the Glebe lands, meadows, gardens, orchards, houses,
tenements, portions of tithes and other rights, privileges and appurtenances belonging to the
living or Vicarage of Heddon on the Wall, in the Diocese of Durham and County of
Northumberland, now in the use and possession of the Rev. Thomas Allason, Vicar of the said
church and parish; taken, made and renewed this second day of July, one thousand eight
hundred and twenty seven.
1st The vicarage house, fifty feet and eight inches long from east to west; with a cottage
house in a direct line with the vicarage to the west; and a garden in front of the vicarage,
consisting of three roods of land and upwards. To the east of the vicarage is a wash-house,
twenty one feet in length, formerly a stable. Between the said wash-house and vicarage, is a
small shrubbery, where the Barn, Byer, and farm stable was formerly placed; and the former
stack-yard, converted into, and forming a part of the garden. On the north side of the
vicarage is an ornamental shrubbery encompassed by a wall, with an iron and wooden gate
to the east and west end, made by the present incumbent, at the expense of twenty five
pounds.
On the north side of the turnpike, upon the east end of the glebe land, were built, at the
expense of the present incumbent, the subjoined stables and as here enumerated with these
dimensions: Coach house eighteen feet; stable and dog-house with barn and granary above,
thirty eight feet long; pig-house, ten feet; Byer, hemel, and west stable, thirty eight feet long;
hen-house on the north side of the coach-house with a stack-yard on the north side of these
several buildings extending the whole length thereof. Also the churchyard containing about
three roods or more or less; bounded on the north side by the common; on the east side by a
farmyard of Mr Bates; and a cottage house and garden belonging to the impropriators; on
the south by a part of the impropriators house, with a garden, draw well, and cottage house
belonging to Nathaniel Clayton Esq., with some cottages, the joint property of Clayton,
Collingwood, Shadforth; and on the north-west again by the common. Also a parcel of
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ground (the glebe land), containing about fifteen acres more or less, bounded on the north by
a turnpike and lands belonging to Nath. Clayton Esq; on the east by gardens and cottages
belonging to N Clayton Esq; on the south by another turnpike and the common; and on the
west by a part of the common and lands belonging to C Bewicke Esq.
Also the May tithe in kind of all the lands of or belonging to the township of Heddon-on-theWall. For all other parts of the parish there is a particular respective fixed annual rent,
usually payable upon Michaelmas day in the following manner, i.e.:
-s-d
Close House
0-2-0
Houghton
0-4-8
East Heddon 0-10-4
Whitchester
1-0-0
Eachwick
0-10-2
West Heddon 0-2-8
-------2-9-10
Also a right of Common, i.e. a right to feed and graze upon all the Common of the township
of Heddon on the Wall, at all seasons of the year, with all sorts and kinds of goods and
chattels, and for all other uses and purposes of whatsoever kind which the inhabitants of the
said township of Heddon on the Wall do make of the said common. And also in case of
division of the said common, a right to share in the same, in proportion to the value of the
said vicarage of Heddon on the Wall.
Also the tithe corn in kind of all the lands of West Heddon and the west part of the said lands
of West Heddon, now commonly called Pickerings lands and houses.
Also all the small and petty tithes, throughout the whole parish of Heddon on the Wall,
payable in kind at the usual and customary seasons, i.e. Easter Dues at Easter; that is a
penny for every chimney that smokes; also communion money, i.e. three half pence for every
married, and two pence for every unmarried person at the age of sixteen and upwards.
Also Lamb, Wool and Ducks at Mid-summer; the lambs to be run in tens together; and the
wool to be laid into ten fleeces; and the owner both in the lamb and wool, first to take up
two, and then the tither to take the next best, both of the lamb and wool. The ducks tithable
in the same manner with lamb and wool. But in the case of half a lamb, half a fleece or half a
duck, the owner and tither, as they can agree, are the one to set and the other to choose,
whether he will take or keep the tithe in kind; or take or give a sum of money.
Also Calf, Goose, Turkey, Bees, Foal money, and Ewe money, all payable at Michaelmas in a
manner and form following: i.e. Calf, Goose, Bees, and Foals in like manner, in every respect
with the Lamb and Wool. The Ewe money is four pence per score by custom. For pigs, there is
nothing due unless there is five pigs, upon which there is due half a pig at a month old, one at
six and so on to fourteen.
Also fish are due in kind, from the fisheries at Heddon on the Wall and Close House, in like
manner as lamb, wool and calf are due, during the whole season of fishing. Also hens are
payable in kind, throughout the whole parish at Christmas. Also the potato and turnip tithe
are payable in kind throughout the whole parish. As also the tithe of assistment is due

throughout the whole parish. The tithe also of all sorts of fruit in gardens, with roots and
undergrowth are also due in kind and payable as such things become fit for use.
Also surplice fees and mortuary are due throughout the whole parish in the following
manner, i.e. for churching a woman, sixpence; and fourpence for registering a child. For a
wedding with publication of banns, three shillings and six pence. For a wedding with license,
ten shillings and six pence; for a burial of a parishioner in the churchyard, one shilling and a
penny. For the like in the church, one shilling and six pence for doing the duty, and three
shillings and fourpence for the burial ground, or discretionary fee, i.e. that the incumbent
pleases to insist upon for leave to bury in the church. For the burial of a parishioner in the
chancel, one shilling and sixpence for doing the duty and six shillings and eightpence for the
burial ground, or what the incumbent pleases. For the burial of every other person, not a
parishioner, either in the churchyard, church or chancel, what for ever the incumbent
pleases. There has been taken on this account, at several times, various sums according to
the discretion of the incumbent. The mortuaries are of three kinds, prescribed and limited by
law, i.e. ten shillings; six shillings and eightpence; and three shillings and fourpence,
according to the value of the deceased persons effects.
For leave to fix a head-stone in the church-yard, ten shillings; and for a tomb-stone, one
guinea. But as nothing of this nature can be done without leave from the incumbent, these
fees are discretionary, i.e. whatever the incumbent pleases to insist upon to erect a stone of
whatever kind.
In testimony of the truth of the aforementioned particulars, we, the vicar and church
wardens have set our hands the 2nd day of July 1827.
Thos. Allason, Vicar of Heddon on the Wall
Geo. Armstrong and John Dobson, church wardens.
The Tithe Commutation Act was passed in 1836. The commutation of the tithes took place between
AD 1844 and 1850, commutation of tithe in kind into money charges on land.
A letter or statement found in the church books:
Case
The endowment of the living of Heddon on the Wall (or Heddon super Murum as sometimes
called) in the diocese of Durham and County of Northumberland.
The living is a small or discharged Vicarage in the Kings Books and properly speaking in the
gift of the Crown and as such always disposed of by the Lord Chancellor.
Whether the above mentioned endowment is now extant, and if so, where is the same to be
met with, and how can an authentic copy thereof be obtained.
Dedicated to St Phillip and St James.
The Church of Heddon super Murum was long since appropriated to the Abbey of AlbaLanda, alias Blancalanda, alias Abbey of Blanchland in the County of Northumberland. In
consequence of this appropriation, the Vicarage was endowed; but when, I cannot say, not
having had the good fortune to meet with the endowment thereof.
This endowment, if in being, can only be extant in the Bishops Register at Durham. Search
must therefore be made there. I hope it will be attended with success, if it is true, (as I have
been informed) that Bishop Trevor, about a year before his death, had appointed proper
persons to methodize and digest the records of that registry, which have for many years been
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in great disorder. If it is found, an authentic copy thereof, duly stamped and signed by the
Registrar will, I apprehend, answer any purpose for which it may be wanted.
And: Coltee Ducarels
Doctors Commons
10th July AD 1771.
Case for Dr Ducarels opinion.
Mr Brough Attorney
14th November AD 1781
A work of renovation was carried out on the simple Norman Font by Messrs Emes and Barnard in AD
1824.
The church is possessed of two beautiful sets of silver communion vessels. The older of the two was
given by Miss Mary Spearman in AD 1824 and bears the following inscription:
This Plate, Cup, Flagon and Font were presented by Miss Mary Spearman of Eachwick Hall in the
Parish of Heddon on the Wall for the use of the Holy Communion, AD 1824.
The more recent silver, which is in use more often these present days, is inscribed as follows:
To the glory of God, this Paten, Chalice, Flagon, with the cross and candlesticks are dedicated by her
husband in loving memory of Beatrice Evelyn Leather, born 1st April 1882, died 30th November 1905.
There are four tombstones in Heddon churchyard with their inscriptions still legible but which are
gradually crumbling away and they are worth putting on record.
1) Just south of the path, at the south-east corner of the porch, is a headstone in memory of a
child bearing a good old border name:
Here lies interred The Body of Jane Revely, who departed this life August ye 26th day 1724,
aged 2 yeares.
2) A little to the south of this last, we read:
Here lyeth ye Body of John, son of Ralph Peascod of Heddon on ye Wall, who died May ye
12th 1730, aged 21 years, also Wm & Bridget, who died young.
3) To the east of the footpath half way between the entrance to the churchyard and the porch,
is a small stone with embattled edges, having on its east face:
Here lieth interr'd ye b... of John Bewick of Darras Hall husbandman, who dyd Novbr ye 24th
1730 aged 26 yrs.
And on its west face: ----- that the said John Bewick hath left the sum of ten pounds to the
poor of the parish of Heddon on the Wall to be distributed amongst them at the discretion of
the vicar and churchwardens of the said parish.
4) At the south-west corner of the church:
Here Lieth the Body of John Waddle, who Departed July ye 17, 1731, aged 44 years.
5) At the west end of the church:
Here lieth ye body of John Watson mason who die ye 27 February 1729.
6) To the south-west:
Here lies the body of Margaret Smith who died June ye 6th 1700 aged 29 years.
7) At west end:
Here lies the body of Jacob Laws who died ye 4th February AD 1746/7 aged 53 years.
8) Here lies ye body of George Hunter, son to Robert Hunter of Howton [Houghton] who
departed ye 29th December 1746 aged 29 years.
9) Alder Penman of Wylam Wood died 25th Dec. 1818 aged 100 years.

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The Proceedings of the Court of High Commission, at Durham, have preserved for us a vivid, though
not particularly edifying, picture of William Wilson, vicar of Heddon in 1628. Anthony Todd, then
aged 26, deposes that he never sawe Mr Wilson weare the surplisse, saveing at Easter last, albeit he
hath been curat at Heddon for a yeare or more. Hath seene Mr Wilson at sundry tymes sweare and
utter these words when he was in his drinke What he was a squires sonne; and soe braveing in this
manner of his birth, that none there should be like unto him. Mr Wilson frequented widow Reeds
ale-house, and would sit there drinking her home-brewed for an hour or more, till he got forward
in his drink; then if anyone advised him to be civil and temperate, and show some respect to his
cloth, he would reply: I doe not greatly care for my coate; I am a squires sonne, and soe I respect
my birth as much as my coate. It is not surprising that the Dean and Chapter of Durham the see
was vacant sequestered the living, and gave the charge of it to Thomas Taylor, clerk, and James
Carr, gent, of Whitchester.
But Wilson openly told Carr in church that he would obey no sequestration. The sequestrators had
indeed to obtain a citation against the parishioners, who kept their tithes back from them, and for all
of whom, Wilson boasted he would answer that none should stirr there feete. Wilson was
therefore suspended and ordered to publiquely and penitently acknowledge his offence in his
ordinarie apparel; but on Mr Taylors showing him this order, he in very scornfull manner,
answered he would obey noe such bible-bables. The consequence was that Robert Mitford, the
messenger of the Court, arrested Wilson on 29th January 1639, and with much difficulty, for in very
stubborne and preemptory manner he refused to move, brought him down the towne-gate of
Heddon. The noise of their struggle brought Christopher Hopper to the door of his house, and
Mitford drawing out the warrant, required his assistance in his Magesties name. Instead of
answering, Hopper came and took the vicars cloak, in order that he might escape more easily, and
then, leaning against his door, laughed and jeered at the messenger.
At last, Mitford proposed to Wilson that he should go to widow Reeds, to which he only too readily
assented. Her son, Thomas Reed, gent., aged 21, was bailiff of the town, and Mitford, no doubt,
reckoned on his aid but when he came in he told Mitford that he was no common bailiff, but Lord
William Howards bailiff, and that, as long as he was in the house he would assist him, but when,
he said, you are gone forth of the doors, I know what I have to do, and, in order that his meaning
might be quite clear, added that it had been well done of the wives of the towne to have joined
together and have stoned Mitford forth of the towne, in regard to his hindering divine service.
Mitford saw his errand was hopeless, so he contented himself with taking a bond for 50 from
Wilson that he would put in an appearance at Durham; and in the end after various fines and
sentences of imprisonment, Wilson appears to have got free, under plea of poverty. Thomas Reed,
against whom proceedings were also instituted, submitted at once, but the costs in his case were so
heavy that he took to flight, and was heard of in London in 1635. John Reede, of West Heddon,
gent., was likewise proceeded against for abusing Thomas Taylor, clerk.
Christopher Hopper, depted this life, twenty fourth day of May 1657
Bella Todd, wife to Anthony Todd, smith, in Heddon ye Wall died Aprill ye 9th 1657; Anthony Todd
died January 29th 1657/8. Heddon Register.

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