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
Parish Church of St.Mary the Virgin
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
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.
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
|Hon & Rev.
Rector 1842 - 1890
© Marilyn Tweddle