HOLY CROSS CHURCH BUILDINGS
Background - There is sound documentary evidence to show that Christian worship has taken place in Haltwhistle for the past 800 years but as you will see from reading our Christian journey there are indications that it goes back much further.
When the church was built it would have been a bare shell with rushes on the floor, and possibly benches along the walls for the infirm or elderly. It is a fine example of early 13th century architecture. Indeed Holy Cross is such a fine, beautiful and interesting building that it has Grade 1 listing. Its importance lies in it being of one style built in one period.
Some interesting features of Holy Cross:
- The nave and aisles make the main body of the church into a square and the chancel is disproportionately long in comparison with the nave.
- In Jacobean times box pews were installed for the local gentry. In 1870 Haltwhistle’s prosperity enabled the whole church to be restored and Robert Johnson an architect from Newcastle was appointed to carry out a major restoration. The oak pews were replaced by pitch pine; the stone parapet to the nave was removed and the west wall rebuilt and the roof replaced. By this time the rich and influential were much in favour of stained glass as a fitting memorial and hence stained glass windows by the William Morris Company were included in the restoration. These were based on designs by Burne Jones, Madox Brown, Philip Webb and Charles Kempe.
- Where the vestry is now was once the main entrance to the church rather than the present south door. Visitors are also much intrigued by the font which dates from the 17th century. The carving on it looks quite primitive and not very well executed.
- The water stoup located by the vestry door is the oldest object in the church. There are various theories as to its origin and it remains a mystery. We now keep holy water in it!
- There are also many interesting memorials and gravestones dotted around inside the church
Changes - In 2010 the west end of the church was reordered to provide toilet facilities and a kitchen. It proved to be a challenging project as many wanted the church to remain as it was. However the changes were managed well and the work carried. The facilities and the opportunities they now provide have confirmed that this was a positive change and is widely accepted as such. It is used by the Mothers’ Union for weekly soup lunches for the community and it is also used for light refreshments following services. It is now available for hire for meetings or small gatherings. Hadrian Singers our local choir meet in the church every week and they also hold their Annual Meeting there.
The Graveyard – Surrounding the church is a well-kept graveyard with many ancient stones which the local history society has mapped and listed in a file kept in church. The wooden/stone shed by the main gate is where the hearse was kept many years ago. The local Council maintains the grounds of the church.