Historians consider that the church was constructed as a Chapel of Ease within the parish of Embleton, about the year 1176. It consisted of a chancel and a nave with a rood screen at their junction. The church was allowed to fall into disrepair and by the end of the eighteenth century was in such a dilapidated condition that no services could be held.
The church was rebuilt at Charles Bosanquet's expense in 1806. A timber gallery was constructed in 1824 over the west door to provide a pew for the large family and household in the Hall. In 1855 the Rev. R. W. Bosanquet decided that further improvements should be carried out, and the architect employed was Anthony Salvin, then residing mainly at Alnwick to supervise the Duke of Northumberland's alterations at Alnwick Castle.
The principal works were the construction of the semi-circular apse at the east end of the chancel, the rebuilding of the vestry, and the restoration of the old Norman and Early English windows, In 1866 an aisle was added on the north side of the nave, the architect being F. R. Wilson. The north wall was moved stone by stone, including a Norman window and the corbel table.
The fine west door, with its rich zig-zag work, and the north wall of the nave are, from the outside, much as they appeared about 1176.
There is a fine Norman chancel arch, partly moulded and partly zig-zag. The outer order is cut away at the top centre, and on the surface (facing the floor) can be seen a rough outline of a dove, incised with a knife or small axe, as was sometimes done in the mid-twelfth century. On the floor of the chancel is an interesting grave cover, showing a floriated cross between a sword and an axe. The font near the west door is partly ancient.
On the north wall of the chancel there are stone shields bearing the swine of the Swinhoe family, who owned Rock Estate from about 1370 to about 1560.
There is also a single shield bearing three water bougets (leather buckets for carrying water), the arms of the Proctors who lived at Rock in the early eighteenth century.
The most interesting monument is that to Colonel John Salkeld, the last of the line of the family who owned the estate from 1620 to 1705. He was a bold and consistent supporter of the Stuarts, and the monument records his 'constant dangerous and expensive loyalty' (south wall of chancel). On the north wall of the chancel is a marble monument to Charles Bosanquet, who became the owner of the estate in 1804, and who restored the church and Hall, and improved the village houses. Above the door to the vestry is another marble monument to his wife, Charlotte Anne.
In the south wall of the nave there is a stained glass window by Leonard Evetts commemorating (left) Robert Carr Bosanquet, archaeologist and Director of the British School of Archaeology at Athens, and his wife Ellen Sophia Bosanquet; (right) their son Charles Ion Carr Bosanquet, first Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle, and his wife Barbara Bosanquet, who was brought up in New York City.
The design incorporates motifs reflecting their lives, including a Cretan double-headed axe, the American eagle, the arms of the University of Newcastle, and the church itself.
The large three-manual organ was built in the north aisle in 1881, being a gift from Holford MacDowall Bosanquet, fellow of St John's College, Oxford, a mathematician and musician. He had the organ built to his specification by Grey and Davison of London. It was originally blown by an engine powered by petroleum gas working in a special stone building, however, in 1935 an electric motor was substituted and subsequently the gashouse was demolished. It was restored in 2004 by Harrison and Harrison with the aid of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
© Charles J Bosanquet 2012
edited by Paul N I Weston 2019