The Church of St James the Great

in the Parish of Morpeth

By the 1840s, church attendance at the parish church of St.Mary the Virgin was falling, due in no small part to the location of the church, on the southern boundary of the town. The walk, particularly in winter, was proving too much for parishioners.

In 1843, the newly appointed Rector of Morpeth, the Hon. and Rev. Francis Richard Grey, called a public meeting to address the problem.

The Parish Church of St.Mary the Virgin

It was decided to build a new and more suitable church in the centre of the town, and a public subscription fund was set up to finance the project, for which some 7,000 was needed.

Two adjacent plots of land in Copper Chare were donated to accommodate the building, one by Mrs. John Fenwick and the other by the Earl of Carlisle, father-in-law to Rector Grey.

Donations to the building fund were received from a wide variety of bodies and individuals , and the whole project was accomplished remarkably quickly, from the laying of the foundation stone on St.James's day, 1844, to the opening consecration by the Bishop of Durham, prior to the completion of the tower, on 15th October 1846.

Additional funding was needed to complete the building of the central tower, and plans for a full peal of bells had to be dropped, but the replacement of the bell-chamber by lantern windows fortuitously gave to St.James's its light and airy atmosphere.

Hon & Rev. Francis Grey
Rector 1842 - 1890

Marilyn Tweddle
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