St Giles Church

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Chollerton is a tiny settlement on the A6079 at the start of the North Tyne valley. The church is at the edge of the village with views across the valley. The church dates from the C13th replacing an earlier C11th wooden church. It was in a poor condition in the C18th and funds were raised by local landowners for its repair. The chancel and north aisle were rebuilt and the top of the tower may date from then. There was another restoration in the late C19th when all the C18th features were erased. The chancel was shortened and the south aisle rebuilt. Windows were remodelled.

In many ways it is an unremarkable church with a battlemented and pinnacled square tower at the west end, nave, chancel, side aisles and south porch. The most unusual feature is the tiled bell cupola with a hexagonal pyramid top above the tower.

There is a slight step into the porch and level access into the church. Along with other churches in the Tyne valley, there are old grave slabs set into the wall of the porch. That with shears represents a female burial.

Inside the doorway is an upturned Roman altar, dedicated to Jupiter which has been converted into a font at some time. On the floor next to it is an old sundial and a tomb stone inscribed in Latin and dated 1669.

At the back of the nave is a C13th circular stone font with a small Jacobean wood cover. Above the door into the tower is a small shield with the coat of arms of the Swinburne family and their motto Semel et Semper.

The most impressive feature of the church is the C12th south arcade which uses Roman pillars from Cilurnum Fort at Chesters, a few miles to the south. These support pointed arches. The north arcade is C13th and has octagonal pillars with pointed arches above. Walls are whitewashed as is the ceiling which has narrow strips of wood across it dividing it into squares and large tie beams across.

The pointed chancel arch is C13th. Suspended from it is a wooden rood with a crucifix with the Virgin Mary and St john on either side. This is C19th and erected in memory of a vicar of St Giles. There was enough money left over to pay for the pulpit with carved oak panels.

The simple altar has a magnificent carved reredos behind it made up of C17th panels of wood which are thought to be reused domestic panelling. Above on either side of the east window are three painting of angels. The choir stalls are also C17th and have more panelling behind them.

Hanging above the altar is a beautiful French Gothic sanctuary lamp.

The church is a bit off the tourist trail and receives few visitors. In many ways it is a typical small church. What makes it unique are the reused Roman pillars in the nave.

The church is open daily. There is no obvious parking area for the church. We parked in front of the the old stable and hearse house at the cross roads in front of the church.

There are more pictures “here.”:

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