fifteenth century that the fabric of the Norman church was tampered with through the addition of a perpendicular style south aisle and arcade. A south porch with a parvise room above was added at the same time and, is so often the case, this parvise room became in time the home of the village’s first school. The south aisle had a clerestory that was removed during restoration in 1860 when the original nave and chancel rooflines seem to have been reinstated. The church has needed considerable buttressing over the centuries and one might speculate that the clerestory was removed to reduce the weight of masonry bearing down on the side walls. A pre-restoration etching also shows a perpendicular style window at the south west of the chancel and this has been restored to a Norman profile that matches the original window to the east of it. The east window was also in the gothic style and has been replaced by a Norman style triple lancet arrangement. A circular window was built into the gables of both the chancel and the nave. Thus, rather remarkably, the church now looks more Norman than it did for half a millennium!
The nave is the longest Norman nave in Northumberland. It still has its original windows on the aisle-less north side. The west wall was the original extent of the church prior to the later addition of the tower. It is a fine Norman composition. The chancel arch too is original Norman. Like the rest of the church - indeed, like most Norman work in Northumberland - it is rather austere with none of the riots of chevron mouldings, beakheads and extravagantly carved capitals that adorn many Norman chancel arches elsewhere. There is a course of palmette carvings and and another of pellet moulding. It is the chancel itself, however, that is the gem of this church. The ceiling comprises two separate quadripartite vaults, each with ribs richly adorned by zig-zag moulding.
I like a good mystery and at this church that must surely be the blocked north doorway. It has the usual Norman round-arched profile. It is, however, apparently set within a larger doorway with a tall triangular head. The head itself is made of smaller stones and not in the Anglo-Saxon style of single slabs meeting at a point. It is certainly Norman - but why was this style adopted seventy years after the Conquest?
As is common in these parts, the thickness of the walls gives rise to the idea that the church was designed as a defensive refuge in this troubled part of England. We cannot know whether this was the case. The emergence of the castle at the same time or shortly after the building of the church might cast doubt on the idea. It also seems to me that the church has original windows that are rather too numerous and too large for the building to be taken seriously as a putative defensive structure. Look, for example, at the tower of the undisputed fortified churches at Newton Arlosh and Burgh-by-Sands Churches in Cumbria or at the squat ruggedness of Kirknewton in Northumberland itself.