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St Cuthbert’s Church, Bellingham

Northumberland

Military

The dedication to St Cuthbert, and the atmospheric spring at the foot of the churchyard which also bears his name, suggests an ancient Saxon origin for this church. From outside the present building is largely 13th century; only the nave roof with its massive strips of stone hints at what lies inside.

About 1609 the church was re-modelled and re-roofed. Its aisles were demolished and the nave and the south chapel were given mighty stone vaults strengthened by even mightier stone ribs.

It’s like the dungeon of a castle tower and that, of course, is the point. This town, so close to the border, had suffered hundreds of years of warfare. Churches certainly weren’t safe from attack and even in 1609, when England and Scotland had already been united under one crown, it must have still seemed important to make their church fireproof, strong and defensible.

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