Church History

If you want to trace information from church records contact the Vicar.

Please note that only the current baptism and marriage registers are kept in the church, the burial register for after 1913 and a useful record of Monumental Inscriptions (kindly compiled by members of the Northumberland and Durham Family History Society).

All other records are held at the Durham County Records Office at County Hall, Durham DH1 5UL - 0300 026 7619 .

Church Histories

The Parish of St Andrew, Lamesley

There has been a church on the site of St Andrew’s, Lamesley since 1286 when it is recorded that the ‘Chapelry of Lamesley’, a chapel-of-ease, was linked to the Collegiate Church of St Cuthbert – now St Mary and St Cuthbert, Chester-le-Street. It may be that the site of a church is much older and would have connected a Saxon church with the Ravensworth family. Later the church was to be patronised by the Lords Ravensworth.

In 1740 part of the old church was in ‘ruinous condition’ and eventually it was completely rebuilt in 1759. The chancel was rebuilt in 1847 and the church restored and then the chancel arch was widened and raised and an organ chamber and vestry added in 1884.St. Andrew, Lamesley

One of the earliest references to Lamesley would appear to be in 1297 when it is recorded as “Lamelay” – in old English – lamba, leah or lambes – leah = pasture for lambs.

However, it is known that there was a chapel-of-ease for parishioners on the site of the present church in 1286 linked to the Collegiate Church of St. Cuthbert, Chester-le-Street, forming the second prebend in that church, but the chapel existed previous to that date. For example, the church houses two important cross slab grave covers (discovered during a major renovation in 1884) one of which is thought to date from the beginning of the 13th century.

There is some thought that the present church is the third erected on the site, the original of which may have been of Saxon origin.

On the Dissolution, a slight provision was reserved for a perpetual curate, but by the mid-nineteenth century, the living had become a vicarage.

In 1349, it is recorded that on a single day of that year, there were three baptisms at Lamesley, and on the same day, three burials, indicating that the church served a populous locality at that time.

The present church was completely rebuilt in 1759 under the patronage of and funded by the first Baron Ravensworth. Part of the previous church on the site having been “in a ru­inous condition”, in 1740 was repaired. but the work was not completely successful, neces­sitating the more extensive measures of 1759.

The parish of Lamesley (circa 1870) was, geographically, one of the largest parishes in the country, bounded on the south-east and south by the chapelry district of Birtley, on the west by the chapelry of Tanfield (a united benefice is obviously not a modern innovation, the perpetual curate of Lameslev in past times, serving also the latter chapelry) and the parish of Whickham, and on the north by the latter parish and that of Gateshead, and on the east by Gateshead and Washington.

St. Thomas, Eighton Banks, was formed in 1862 from Lamesley (and Wrekenton), whilst St. Ninian’s was formed partly from the east part of Lameslev in 1956.

The recent Priests’ Name Board. on the left of the Nave, shows the names of all the known priests who have ministered here back to the year 1409, a number of whom were notewor­thy, including Thomas Wilson. an intruder, during the Commonwealth period!

It is interesting to see that four of the priests were educated at St. John’s College, Cambridge.

Finally, our most famous and recent parishioner residing in the parish is known world-wide, and is Antony Gormley’s sculpture, the “Angel of the North”! It is really a cross, you know!

Derek Bell has written a very helpful booklet called The Church at the Crossroads which collects together all the main information about the church, the Manor and Lamesley though it has a limited print.