The village of Whickham has developed from the small medieval hamlet of Quykham into the beautiful place we know today. Throughout the centuries, the historic church of St. Mary the Virgin has been the spiritual centre of the village, and very much at the heart of the life of the local community. St Mary's has witnessed the turbulent pageant of history… the Scottish ward, the Reformation, occupation by Cromwell's troops and destruction by fire. The simple beauty of our Parish Church is the hallmark of the loving care and generosity of those who built and maintained it.
The Nave is Norman, lofty, long and stately with clerestory windows in the upper sections of the north and south walls. The four arches of the south aisle are circular without moulding, save for a slight chamfer on either side.
The pillars on the south side, which date from about a hundred years after the building of the Chancel and the Nave, are each formed by a simple cylinder and a square abacus; the abrupt effect of the corners of which is softened by four stiff and peculiar moulded ornaments projecting from the circular capital. They are interesting relics from the age of transition between Norman and Early English architecture. There may, at one time, have been mural paintings of Bible stories on the walls of the Nave.
The Nave Altar
The Nave Altar was established in recent years and has become a splendid dramatic focal point for all the principle acts of worship. St Mary's has a very rich musical tradition, with an extensive repertoire of excellent liturgical music from many traditions. The Communion kneelers showing the Mary Rose and the medieval Maria Symbol were produced by the Church needlework group in 1998. The Lady Chapel in the North Aisle is used for many weekday services. The beautiful carving of the Mother and Child was produced by Ken Lakey, a local craftsman.
The Chancel Arch
The chancel arch is among the few examples of true Norman work in the North of England, for most so-called Norman architecture is really transitional in style, being built in the late 12th century under Plantagenet kings. The responds of the chancel arch date from the first quarter of the 12th century. The arch is semi-circular with two square orders both slightly chamfered, and rests on scalloped cushion capitals with a many petalled flower filling the vacant space on the north capital.
The chancel itself is part of the original fabric and retains some of its ancient features. There were originally two flat-headed windows in the south wall, but during the restoration of 1862, three semi-circular headed windows were inserted. The Priest's Door is of special interest because before the chancel was lengthened, it opened into the original sanctuary. The reredos is Victorian. On the north wall of the sanctuary is an aumbry or locker, for the sacred vessels.
Most churches have their Baptismal Font near the entrance, but St. Mary's is unique in having a more spacious Baptistery in the Tower. The ancient font is made of Frosterley marble, lead lined, with a drain hole to empty the water of baptism into consecrated ground. The font still has the remains of the staples for the securing of the font cover. There are usually flowers here, adding a personal touch of freshness and colour to the Christian welcome.
We welcome you into the Lord's Family.
We are members together of the Body of Christ;
We are children of the same Heavenly Father;
We are inheritors together of the Kingdom of God.
We welcome you.
The Entrance Porch
The original porch was built during the reconstruction of the aisles in the more Decorated Period of the 14th century. It remained intact until November 1703, when it was destroyed in the "Great Storm". It was later rebuilt using the original stones. Set in the west wall of the porch are fragments of two grave covers which may be 14th century. The Sundial over the entrance dates from 1651.
The Church Tower
The Tower is of the same period as the porch, with a parapet of later date. Its height is 47 feet. The church bells are a special historic feature of the life of St. Mary's, and were restored in 1985. They are rung regularly as a call to worship by a talented team of bell ringers.
The original entry of the tower was in the nave, but since the restoration the door has been converted into a window. Access to the tower is now by the spiral staircase at the North West angle of the tower. There is an interesting entry in the Churchwarden's Book for 1715:- "Paid to Peter Shield for building up ye window under ye clock... 2/6d." He apparently did his work so well that no-one could discern where the window had been!
The cache can be found a short walk away after you have found the values for these letters. From the information board note the 2 telephone numbers, use the Revd Barry's number for the northerlys and the Parish Office for the Westerlys
A = Last digit
B = 5th digit
C = 6th digit - 4th digit - 2nd
D = 5th digit
E = 9th digit
F = Last digit
The cache can be found at
N54 56.ABC W001 40.DEF
Checksum = 29
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