The History of Haltwhistle

This is another piece from Highways & Byways of Northumbria, a wonderful source of historical oddities:

Haltwhistle stands so beautifully on the tyne here a broad shadow river dancing and singing over a rough bed, with a great sweep of moors billowing round it that not even the squalour attendant on coal mines has destroyed its charm.

This is from a privately printed pamphlet by Rev C. E. Adamson, rector of Houghton-le-Spring, titled “A History of the Manor and the Church of Haltwhistle”:

The Tower of Hautwysel is first mentioned in the list of towers and castles that existed in northumberland about the year 1416, and is probably the same as that described in 1542 as the inheritance of Sir William Musgrave and in measurable good reparation. It is (as it now stands) a plain building with a loop-holed turret built on corbels. The old roof, which was removed some 20 years ago, was formed of flags laid on heavy oaken beams and fastened thereto with sheep shank bones. The floor also consisted of flags laid on joists formed of the roughly squared trunks of oak trees. A singing stone staircase leads to the upper part of the tower. As Haltwhistle cannot have had a resident lord during the tenure of the Musgraves, the tower was probably the residence of he bailiffs who seem to have exercised considerable authority in the town. “

There was another pele-tower but its remains are engulfed in the Red Lion HOtel. ..

The most historic building in Haltwhistle is the church. It is said the the chancel dates from the 12th century; but it stands in the heart of he moss troopers’ county, and they have speed nothing they could plunder either sacred or profane. “

This is the inscription of the tombstone of John Ridley, “cousin” of he martyr:

IHON REDLE

THAT SUM

TIM DID BE

THEN LORD OF THE WALTON

GON IS HE OUT OF THESE VAL OF MESERE

HIS BONS LES NDER THES STON

WE MUST BELEVE BE GODSRSE

INTO THESE WORLD BGAVE HIS SON

THEN FOR TO REDEM AL CHARENTE

SO CHRISE HAES HES SOUL WON

AL FAETHFUL PEOPLE MAY BE FAEN

WHEN DATH COMES THAT NON CAN FLE

THE BODE KEPT THE SUL IN PAEN

THROUGH CHRIST IS SET AT LEBERTE

AMONG BLESSED COMPANETO REMAEN

TO SLEP IN CHRIST NOWE IS HE GON

YET STEL BELEVES TO HAVE AGAEN

THROUGH CHRIST A IOYEFWL RESURRECTION

AL FRIENDES MA BE GLAD TO HAER

WHEN HES SOUL FROM PAEN DID GO

OUT OF THES WORLD AS DETH APPER

IN THE YEER OF OUR LORD

A : 1562

It is the mis-spellng that interests here. Although there is online dialect in Northumberland, it is spoken with accents another peculiarities that belong to separate localities. The Western Northumbrian is much softer and sweeter in speech than the Eastern, where most commonly voices are harsh and loud. … Listen to a native who he says not gate but “gay-et”’ not faith but “fay-eth”’ not death but “dath”; not here, but “hee-er”’ not remain, but “remay-en”’ not misery  and liberty, but “meesery” and “leeberty”, and it becomes evident that the spelling, like early all the other spellings the time, was phonetic. It follows as a normal and indeed inevitable deduction that the manner of speaking prevalent today was also that of the generation which saw bishop Ridley burnt at the stake.

I have always found the Northumbrian accent incredibly difficult, but somehow seeing it written down makes it easier to understand. Or maybe I’m just getting used to it.

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