Enjoy a gentle walk to explore St Wilfrid’s Church. The walk starts and finishes at the Kirkharle Courtyard Car Park.
The Grade 1 listed church is dedicated to St Wilfrid (634-709AD). It consists of a nave and chancel, but has neither tower nor aisles. With the exception of the west wall, the porch and bell cot, the whole building is of one date. Holy Communion services are held at 11.00am on the first Sunday in every month from May to October. All visitors welcome.
About St Wilfrid’s Church
It is rumoured there was a church on the site before the present one; however nothing remains of this. Walter de Bolbeck, a Norman Knight, appropriated part of the Church of Herla to his newly founded Abbey of Blanchland in 1165. The Premonstratensian Canons provided for the ministrations in this church until the dissolution of their abbey during the reign of Elizabeth I; they wore white habits.
Most of the current building dates back to 1336, when a chantry was founded by Sir William de Herle. He played an important part in State affairs during the reigns of Edward II and Edward III.
One of the most striking features of this church is the excellent masonry. Every stone is carefully squared and the joints are of the finest character. Many stones in the chancel show their masons’ marks. Other notable features in the chancel include windows that are filled with reticulated tracery ,three sedilia, a piscina as well as a priest’s door and low side windows. There are also several monuments to the Loraine family.
The font, which dates from the late 15th or early 16th century, was originally in All Saints Church, Newcastle. In 1786 when this church was destroyed, the font was acquired by Alderman Hornby and placed in his garden. Thomas Anderson brought it with him on his move to Little Harle, with his son placing it into the church following restoration in 1884. The font has on each of its eight sides a shield of arms of old Northumbrian families.
News from St Wilfrid’s
In 2018, after 15 years of planning the Church Wardens of Kirkwhelpington with Kirkharle were delighted to be able to commence a programme of improvements to St Wilfrid’s Church.
With generous grant support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Community Foundation, All churches Trust and Northumberland Historic Churches, essential restoration to the drains and the masonry has been completed, a brand new oil heating system installed and the vestry upgraded to provide basic catering facilities. The £90,200 funding has saved and restored the building’s fabric, and with the new modern heating system it’s hoped that besides regular church services, other events can be held in St Wilfrids, including talks, concerts, exhibitions and weddings bringing the building back to life for the community. Enquiries are welcome.
The Rev Jonathan Mason, vicar at St Wilfrid’s, explained: “The years have not been kind to the church and sadly, the cost of maintaining the fabric of the building falls increasingly to our small congregations. We were thrilled to secure funding to meet the cost of the repairs, as this church has a magnificent history and we can now ensure that future visitors can fully appreciate that history as they stroll round the church in warmth and comfort.”
Apart from the building works we have written guided walks around the estate, taking in the lake, and the church. Interpretation panels and banners, designed by Jill Stevens, help visitors learn more about the history of this important site.