Summer Walk Report No 11, Mitford Castle & Parish Church - Tuesday 5th August 2014.

  

On Tuesday 5th August, the eleventh walk on the camera club summer programme saw members make the
short journey to the village of Mitford, two miles west of Morpeth. The aim of the evening was to photograph
and explore Mitford Castle & Mitford Parish Church, two well known local landmarks.
Members met at the entrance to Castle Field which was the site of the original village of Mitford. Crossing a
stile we followed the footpath across the field and around the prominence. This led us up to the rear walls of
the castle and into the inner and outer wards. After closer inspection members photographed large sections
of the squared stone castle walls that are over four feet thick in places. The remains of the unique five sided
Keep, an arched Chancel and a divided basement containing two barrel vaulted chambers also caught the eye.
Built as a Motte and Bailey castle between 1066 and 1100, and standing on a large earth mound it is believed
that the fortification was positioned here as it overlooked the first crossing point that was established by the
Normans on the river Wansbeck.
The village of Mitford would have thrived in its position beneath the castle but was also in danger from border
raiders. This proved to be the case as the stronghold was destroyed and rebuilt on numerous occasions as it
changed hands between the English and the Scots. Records from 1323 state that the castle was said to be
" entirely burnt and destroyed " and it is doubted that it was ever totally rebuilt before stone was later taken
to build a nearby manor house.
Mitford Castle is now classed as a scheduled ancient monument and a grade one listed building. Looking down
from our elevated viewpoint we had a great view of The Parish Church which was to be our next port of call.

   

The church of St Mary Magdalene was built in the late 12th century as the parish church of Mitford.
Like the castle, the church has had a chequered history with parts of the building being damaged by fire,
raided, robbed, demolished, remodelled and rebuilt.
Approaching the church the first interesting feature is the entrance lych-gate that was built in 1889. Passing
through this gate members then viewed the church exterior and gravestones before entering for our arranged
visit to photograph the church interior. Inside the church an ancient bell now hanging to the left of the main
door is believed to be from the twelfth century and to be the oldest bell in Britian. Members then recorded all
aspects of the church in their own style. With so many interesting fixtures and fittings there was no shortage
of subjects to photograph.

          

The twelfth century stone pillars complete with moulded arches, the F.C. Nicholson organ first played in 1878,
from the beautiful nineteenth century Reredos carved from turkish boxwood on belgian walnut, to the tomb of
Bertram Reveley who died in 1625. Other fine features include the window in the south aisle by the renowned
stained glass designer Charles Kempe and the restored paintings of St Cuthbert & St Aidan.
The people of Mitford Parish have attended the church to pray for nearly nine hundred years and after visiting
this tranquil place and photographing items from its rich history, it is easy see why this grade one listed building
still has an important role in the lives of those living in the local community.

   

On behalf of the seventeen members of Morpeth Camera Club who attended, I would like to record our thanks
to the Ministry team who authorised and assisted with our visit, making it a successful evening.
                                                                                                                                  Davy Bolam.