Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Bothal Castle and St Andrew's Church, Bothal & Woodhorn Church, Newbiggin by the Sea

Bothal is both a castle and a stately home, lying in the village of the same name by the river Wansbeck.  Botl is Old English for dwelling and probably refers to an original building or hall in the same location.

 In 1095, Bothal was given by King William Rufus to Guy de Balliol, whose daughter Alice married William Bertram, Baron of Mitford.  In 1343, Sir Robert Bertram was given permission to turn his manor house into a castle.  Sir Robert's daughter Helen married Sir Robert Ogle and consequently Bothal Changed hands.

Carrying on the family tradition, Helen's son, also Sir Robert, fought at the Battle of Otterburn in 1388.  When he dies he left his lands at Ogle to his oldest son, another Sir Robert, and Bothal to his youngest son, Sir John.  The two siblings then fought and Robert besieged Bothal for four days until Sir John appealed to the king and was reinstated as heir.

Ralph, Third Lord Ogle, fought in two Scottish campaigns in 1494 and 1496 while his son, Robert, took part in the Battle of Flodden.

In 1591 the states passed to the Cavendish-Bentinck family (Dukes of Portland) through the marriage of Catherine, Countess of Ogle to Sir Charles Cavendish of Welbeck.

In 1828, the Sample family came to the castle and are still there . William Sample was appointed land agent for the Duke of Portland's Bothal estates and part his job was to stop the decline of the Castle.

St Andrew's church, at Bothal, dates from around 1200.  Much of the present building is
600-800 years old, however, part of an Anglo-Saxon Cross and other stone fragments provide evidence of earlier worship.  The site may have been used from the 7th C and dowsing has revealed the foundations of a church from about the 10th C.


The Anglo-Saxon building was replced by a Norman structure by Richard Bertram who was the first Norman lord to live at Bothal.  The church was further developed by Robert Bertram I and Robert Bertram IV.

The church contains the alabaster tomb of Ralph, Third Lord Ogle who died in 1513, and his wife Margaret Gascoigne.

Down the road at Newbiggin by the Sea,  you will find the church of St Mary the Virgin, more commonly called Woodhorn church.  It is said to be the oldest church in Northumberland and dates back over 1200 years and includes Norman, Gothic and Saxon architecture.

In 1971, it was declared redundant and became a museum.  It contains a 13th C stone effigy of a nun, two bells dating back to the 13/14th C and the Woodhorn Cross, which dates back to the 11th C.  In 1906 a hoard of copper and silver coins were found in the grounds dating back to the 16th C.  The graveyard contains graves of miners, seafarers and soldiers who died in the First WW.

The graveyard is reputedly haunted by a soldier from the First WW called Tom Chalkley, and the adjacent lane by the Paddler.  The Paddler wears pitman's clothes and rides a black bicycle; however, he has a skeletal face and empty eye sockets.  You will know when he is about, as you will hear the squeaking of his rusty bike.

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