History of All Saints Church

The parochial chapelry of Rennington is dedicated to All Saints. A parochial chapelry is a halfway house between a chapel of ease and a parish. Originally a Norman chapel, the displayed sketches of 1825 and 1828 show the original appearance of the church with a small nave, chancel and small bell-cote. The first entry of a chaplain for Rennington appears in a document of 1180 which deals with the selling of land at Ellington (Ellingham?) witnessed by Robert - Chaplain of Rennington.

Rennington Chapel

'The chapel consists of a nave and chancel. On the north side of the nave there are 3 round arches which had at one time opened into the north isle but in 1825 the aisle had disappeared and the arches built up. The chancel was 29 feet in length, 12 feet 9 inches in width, the nave 34 feet in length by 15 feet 9 inches in width. All the chancel was lighted by one window at the east end and one window on the north side and 2 on the south side and there was a piscina on the south side of the altar. The nave was lighted by the one window at the east end of the rebuilt north wall, by 3 windows on the south side. At the west end on the south side was a Norman door, the tympanum was enclosed by a semi circular arch richly ornamented by a zig-zag moulding and the hood mould rested on imposts and distal shafts. In the centre of the chapel at the west end there was a font. A bell turret stood on the west side.'

Description of the Norman chapel by Rev. John Hodgson 1825 [cited in Sykes History.]

It is thought that the original chapel belonged to Lindisfarne Priory and was in the Archdeaconry of Lindisfarne and Deanery of Alnwick in the Diocese of Durham until at least 1861.


Pope John XXII sanctioned the appropriation of Embleton church to Bishop Louis de Beaumont. He gave forty acres of glebe lands from Rennington, Rock and Embleton to Merton College who funded Holy Trinity Church Embleton, with instruction that the vicar of Embleton provide three chaplains and a deacon, at his own expense. A chaplain and deacon for Embleton, a chaplain for Rennington and a chaplain for Rock respectively.

July 31st 1414

William de Hilton, Knight of the Manor of Shilbottle, drew up a document that suggested that his ancestors gave certain lands to Rennington, the rents of which were used to engage chaplains to perform Mass and this rite was passed to Sir John Killowe, Parson of Hilton. Sir John was reputed to have claimed rents for these services for 60 years. These Chaplains appear to have caused some problems within the community as they considered themselves to be independent of Embleton and any Bishop. Therefore, Mass was celebrated inconsistently in the chaplery at this time.


A survey of Rennington recorded the church as being 'one chapel depending on the church of Emylton'. It is suggested that the chapel between 1578 - 1760 was very dilapidated and it is uncertain as to how much it was used and by whom.


An entry in Sykes states 'that the church lacks 2 Psalters, 2 books of homilies a seat for the minister, or communion cloth for the holy table and a covering for the communion cup. The windows are in decay, they have no stalls in the church'.


The church appears on a map drawn by Robert Norton, surveyor to the Duke of Northumberland.


The dilapidation was supported by a visitation made to Holy Trinity Church Embleton which states that there were ' 2 ruinous chapels in the parish of Rock and Rennington, both destitute for 15 years or thereabouts'.

Sykes also states that there was evidence that Mass was carried out in Rennington in the early 17th century and entries in the early Bishop of Durham records 1577 - 1765 records curates intermittently appointed for Rennington.


The church terrier stated that in 1761 the curate was paid the sum of £1 annually by the vicar of Embleton,half given on Lady Day, and half at Michaelmas.

*The chapelry was included in the parish of Embleton until 1768 and was served by a curate, the vicar of Embleton being the patron.

1768 - 1792

The deed for severing the chaplery of Rennington All Saints from Embleton Holy Trinity Parish Church took place.

The curate was then awarded a living of £1000 per annum made up as follows:

£200 - Queen Anne's Bounty

£400 - Benefactions

£200 - Warden of Merton College

£200 - Sir Walter Blackett and others

Some of the tithes for the above appeared to come from Weardale, Co. Durham and Widdrington, Northumberland.

Whellens history states that John Scott, who died in 1738, left £10 to the poor of this chapelry of Rennington. The interest of this sum is given to the poor of Rennington and Brocksfield annually at Whitsuntide. The terrier of 1792 does not include this charity. No other information has been found to substantiate this.


The church terrier stated that in 1761 the curate was paid the sum of £1 annually by the vicar of Embleton,half given on Lady Day, and half at Michaelmas.

The chapelry was included in the parish of Embleton until 1768 and was served by a curate, the vicar of Embleton being the patron.

The 1792 terrier also states that in 1791 one fifth of an acre of land was given to the curate ' the land being owned by the mother church Embleton, the purpose being to build a parsonage.'. Curate Richard Witton totally funded the building of the vicarage which is now The Grange Residential Home. 'The Parsonage was built in slate and stone with kitchen and parlour of 16 feet, the barn with thatch is to be completed in the following year.'


Archdeacon Singleton visited and made the following statements 'The chapelry was 2 miles square, had its own church rate of 1p in the £ which realised ££8, the chancel was repaired infrequently by Merton College and the sacraments were performed 4 times a year.'. The Archdeacon's visitation revealed that the whole fabric was in an unsatisfactory condition. He called for immediate repairs to the roof, and described the vestments as barely sufficient, the communion vessels as being of base metal, and the books no more than legible.


As a result of the Archdeacon Singleton's visit, the following works were instigated:-

The old church was demolished and rebuilt by the 3rd Duke of Northumberland, Hugh Percy, at a cost of £700 and consisted of a nave with a large square tower at the west end with twin lancet bell openings and a battlement top.


The new church appears on Survey no.31 done by Thomas Bell and Son, who were the Duke of Northumberland's land agents and surveyors.


The Rev. W. L. J. Cooley made further additions.

An erection of a new chancel and chancel arch with a vestry on the North side linked to the nave, and a new aisle on the North side of the nave. The walls to the earlier church are buff coloured dressed masonry and the later additions are in a grey coloured rougher type of masonry.


The Rev. W L J Cooley MA. carried out more additions and improvements which toned down the abrupt features of the new structure. These additions included the addition of a new chancel and chancel arch with a vestry on the north side of the nave. The pulpit was approached from the vestry through an angled opening in the SE corner of the vestry, close to the chancel arch. The organ was located in the nave at the right hand side of the chancel arch and the font was situated within the tower facing the main entrance.

Other Important Dates


Solemnization of marriages - Bishop of Durham ( Hon. Henry Montagu Villiers)


New Diocese of Newcastle to include Rennington

The diocese came into being on May 23, 1882, and was one of four created by the Bishoprics Act 1878 (41 & 42 Vict. c. 68) for industrial areas with rapidly expanding populations. The area of the diocese was taken from the part of the Diocese of Durham which was north of the River Tyne, and was defined in the legislation as comprising:

'the county of Northumberland, and the counties of the towns of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Berwick-upon-Tweed, and to include such detached parts of any other county as are under any Act of Parliament deemed to form part of the county of Northumberland.'


Churchyard enlarged.

Rev Finch acquired ¼ acre of ground for burial, by the selling of the Boldon estate lands - the remaining being raised by the voluntary rate contribution of £70. The land was consecrated on 6th April 1891


April 20th the St George's flag was contributed by Mrs Williams.


June 25th the law 'assigned each of the said churches of Rennington and Rock as a District Chaplery'.


Unification of the two Parishes of Rennington and Rock


New graveyard


Extension of graveyard


Rennington WW1 War Memorial moved into Churchyard from village

The memorial was unveiled on 10 April 1921 by Dr. G. Scott Jackson CBE DSO and dedicated by Canon Mangin. It commemorates nine local servicemen who died in the First World War.

The memorial was made by Messrs. T. Watson of Alnwick and funded by the local residents.

Originally it stood at a roadside location but circa1957 it was moved approx. 150m to the south-east to stand in the churchyard. In 2014 it was refurbished by local stone mason Bart Endean to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War.

The approx. 3m tall memorial stands in the churchyard to the north-west of the church tower. It takes the form of a wheel-head cross in sandstone from Denwick Quarry. The cross shaft rises from a tapering pedestal, which stands on a two-stage base.

The principal dedicatory inscription to the front face of the pedestal reads:


The commemorated names are listed on the front face of the upper stage of the base, below which on the lower stage is recorded



New Benefice of Embleton with Rennington and Rock

'The Benefice of Embleton with Rennington and Rock with an area comprising the parish of Embleton and the new parish of Rennington and Rock, which parishes shall continue distinct.'.

Further re-arrangements were made inside the church in 1888:

•The pulpit was moved to the place occupied by the organ.

•The font was moved to the west end of the north aisle. The font is early 14th century and came from Embleton church, where the incumbent was patron of the living at Rennington.

•The organ was placed between the most eastern arch of the north aisle.

This arrangement remains the same at the present time.


New inner doors fitted to west end of Nave thanks to the generosity of Mr & Mrs J Thompson of Broxfield


The Chancel floor was relaid and tiled with thanks to the Northumbria Historic Churches Trust and the fund-raising efforts of the congregation and residents of Rennington.


The South-eastern part of the Churchyard was Closed by Order in Council. The maintenance of this and the previously Closed part is now undertaken by Northumberland County Council.

The area set aside for the interment of ashes was confirmed and extended by Faculty.

This early history is seen to compliment the Brief Guide to the Church written by James and Adelaide Thompson, the latter a past Church Warden and both members of our congregation.

This short early history has been compiled by Judy Weston - Church Warden 2009-2011 and it is hoped that the project will be ongoing.

An updated copy of the Church Guide & History is available in the church.


Map Robert Norton 17th Century

Survey Volume 1 Thomas Bell 1850

History topography and directory of Northumberland William Whellan 1855

Imperial Gazetteer John Marius Wilson 1870 - 72

A History of Northumberland John Hodgson 1870

History of Rennington Arthur Sykes 1924

Various Church documents 1577 onwards

With thanks to:

The Chief Archivist to the Duke of Northumberland;

Woodhorn Museum;

The Newcastle upon Tyne City Library Service;

The Northumberland Library Service – Alnwick

©Paul N I Weston 2018  Edited; September 2019 with thanks to Judy Weston and James & Adelaide Thompson