The Parish Church of St Mary of Antioch

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4/5

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Date of travel

September, 2017

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The area around Crossgate has been settled since the C10th and, after the Norman Conquest, the land was given to the Prior of Durham Cathedral. Bishop Hugh du Puiset was responsible for building a Chapel of Ease for St Oswald’s Church on the other side of the peninsula. It became a parish church in the early C15th. The first building was probably a simple church with nave, south aisle and chancel apse. The north aisle was added forty years later, possibly by the same masons who built “St Oswald’s Church,”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/north/co_durham/durham_oswald/index.html just across the river.

The south aisle was rebuilt in the C14th with a wide archway into the Lady Chapel. There is a letter from the Bishop granting forty day’s indulgence to all who contributed to the building fund – the rich buying their way into Heaven. The tower was built in the C15th when the clerestory was rebuilt and raised. There was a major restoration at the end of the C19th which removed the Georgian three decker pulpit, box pews and galleries and put in a new and larger east window. The porches and vestry were added.

Above the north porch is a statue of St Margaret of Antioch standing above a dragon (representing the devil) who tried to swallow her. Margaret was holding a cross that stuck in the dragon’s mouth forcing him to spit her out.

The south arcade and chancel arch are part of the original Norman church. The chancel arch has needed strengthening to prevent collapse. The squints were rebuilt in the C15th as part of this strengthening work. An original Norman window survives in the north wall of the chancel and there is another at the back of the south wall. The squat round Norman pillars still have their scallop design capitals. The black Frosterly marble font beneath the tower is probably the original C12th font too.

The pews are Victorian although the wood probably was recycled from the Georgian box pews. The panelling around the base of the east wall and the east window are part of teh C19th restorations. In the centre is Christ Crucified with St MAry and St John on either side along with St Peter and St Paul. Along the bottom are saints with St Margaret of Antioch at the centre bottom. On the far right is St Cuthbert carrying the head of St Oswald. On the north wall is the organ built by the renowned Durham organ builders Harrison and Harrison in 1917.

This is a simple church, but much loved by its parishioners. It is usually kept locked apart from services. There is no parking on Crossgate near the church. The post code is DH1 4PR and the grid reference is NZ 271424.

There are more pictures “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/churches/england/north/co_durham/durham_margaret/index.html

ESW

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