Spotlight on Northumberland National Park churches

First published on: 9th September 2021

Ten churches nestled in Northumberland National Park feature in a new online guide.

The National Churches Trust has launched the new visitor’s guide on its ExploreChurches website, offering people the opportunity to discover these amazing national heritage sites while exploring the UK’s national parks.

One of these churches is St Michael & All Angels, Alnham. It is believed that the original church was built on the site of a small Roman camp, which most probably was used as a centurion’s guard to protect their herds of cattle when grazing during the summer in the rich pastures on the bank of the river Aln above Whittingham.

The church also has connections to the gunpowder plot of 1605 and is clearly mentioned in a formal written document of 1597 between Henry, ninth Earl of Northumberland and his cousin, Thomas Percy, one of the leaders of the plot.

St Mungo, Simonburn, also features in the list. People have lived in the vicinity since prehistoric times, there are rock carvings nearby. The church is 13th century, on the site of an earlier 8th century building, with strong associations with Saint Mungo (also known as Kentigern). In medieval times the parish covered the largest area in England.

We also see St Cuthbert, Corsenside, featured. Rooted in its landscape this is a remarkable little church, isolated but intimate. Open to the elements, offering shelter on the hill, Corsenside has a strong claim to be an authentic resting place for the coffin of St Cuthbert (c634-687AD) when the monks of Lindisfarne carried it from Holy Island following Viking raids on the east coast.

Over 200 churches and chapels found in the UK’s 15 National Parks are featured in the new online visitor’s guide, which has been produced to mark 70 years since the first National Park was created.

Bill Bryson, a Vice-President of the National Churches Trust, said it’s ‘impossible to overstate the importance of churches to this country’.

He added: “Nothing else in the built environment has the emotional and spiritual resonance, the architectural distinction, the ancient, reassuring solidity of a parish church. To me, they are the physical embodiment of all that is best and most enduring in Britain.”

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