St John’s Church, Whorlton
St. John's was built in 1866 in the Parish of Newburn, initially as a "chapel of ease" to serve a congregation of 200 before eventually becoming a parish in its own right. The building, although not listed, has a unique design reflecting its evolutionary history. The first design consisted of a nave and a chancel with a rounded apse built in plain stone and a bell tower with a visible single bell. Most of the expense of building was borne by Messrs. Spencers of Newburn Steelworks and in 1908 the Spencer family added an organ chamber to the North side. This chamber is now a chapel. In 1911 an ambitious programme to completely rebuild the church started. The East end of the church was demolished and a new, much taller, sanctuary was built, with vestries and a new organ chamber. The original plan was to rebuild the nave and add side aisles, but with the onset of WW1 and a lack of funds the scheme was abandoned. Hence the building we have now is more modest than envisaged. The fully exposed roof leg scissor trusses and openness along its full length draws the eye to a magnificent stained glass window installed in 1999. The inspirational design by Duncan Storr of Darlington reflects the earthly elements of earth, wind and fire and fills the east end of the building with streams of tinted light. Click here to see a picture.
In addition to the window, the church houses Westerhope’s only war memorials for WW1 and WW2 and a Harrison and Harrison organ.
At its inception St John’s was surrounded by a farming community. Now it is part of the suburb of Westerhope, adjacent to private residential housing which is currently being complemented by further housing development.
The War Memorials 1914 - 1918 and 1939 - 1945
The war memorials are inside the church, directly opposite the main entrance.
Thanks to a lot of research by a church member, folders containing paper records of all named on the memorials are held in the church for reference only. You can view online details by clicking here.
You will be able to view a picture of the memorials by clicking on "War_memorial_3_HGTQ2px.JPG" at the very end of this section of the website.
The church grounds and churchyard
The grounds around the church are well cared for and consist of grass verges, herbaceous borders, hawthorn hedging and holly trees. A small centenary garden was established in 2011 and is marked by a sandstone plaque.
The churchyard, situated over a side road adjacent the church, is more than a century old and dates back to the early days of Westerhope. Many of the people buried there were involved in the development of the village. A site burial map with a complete list of those interred can be viewed at the church on request.
Our Memorial Garden lies in the west corner of the churchyard where parishioners can have ashes interred. No individual memorials of any sort are allowed here but the names of those laid to rest can be entered in a Book of Remembrance at any time after the funeral. If you would like to discuss either of these matters you may contact the church by clicking the “Get in touch” tab on the left-hand side of this website. To see a photo of part of the Memorial Garden please click here.
Families quite frequently lay bunches of flowers on the grassy area of the Memorial Garden, where the ashes of their loved ones have been buried. This is very acceptable. Alternatively, if they care to leave a plant or small shrub there, it will be placed in a suitable part of the adjoining soil where it will be a longer-lasting tribute that can be shared by all visitors to the garden.
Location of individual graves
Anyone wishing to know who is buried in the churchyard, and in which plot, can view a digital alphabetic list of the names . Just click here .
War graves in St. John’s churchyard
Four servicemen are buried in the churchyard
Name Rank Service number Date of death
Elliott Herdman Sapper 1181 28/09/1914
Ernest Parratt Lance Sergeant 1068929 14/10/1946
John Edward Robson Private M2/080706 16/11/2018
Thomas W Young Private 89147 20/07/1918
Directions to their location are posted in the porch at the main entrance to the church.
A list of monumental inscriptions transcribed by Kath Willans in 1995 is to be found by clicking on this link to the GENUKI website. The names of the deceased commemorated by these inscriptions are not in alphabetical order. If you wish to find out whether a particular person is included in the list, the following index should make it easier for you. Every name in the index gives the entry number on the inscription list alongside. Click here.
The Churchyard regulations
Artificial flowers (including silk flowers) and ‘memorial items’ other than Remembrance Day poppies and vases for fresh flowers on family graves are not allowed under the Church of England Churchyard regulations. A copy of the regulations is at the main entrance to the church.