Hexham Church Sanctuary

This is some more from Highways & Byways of Northumbria. Sanctuary used to be an important role for the church during times of raiding, but there seems to be little on record of it. A Church at Clevedon, just down the coast from Bristol has a metal ring which is said to be a sanctuary chain where a person could tie themselves to prevent being taken away once sanctuary had been granted. Obviously a person could not stay forever in the church, so some sort of negotiation would need to be reached, but politics and allegiances often changed fast, so a pause in hostilities may have been enough to save a life.

The abbey church has been beautiful restored now and claims to be the finest English church in Great Britain.

The feature most interesting to a visitor is the unequalled number of historical objects that have been preserved from early times. Some of these stir the imagination to an extraordinary degree. First in romantic interest one would place the Fridstool, or Seat of Peace. Wilfrid brought it from Italy and it is probably of pagan origin. Here, it marks the centre of the sanctuary. Wilfred obtained the privilege of sanctuary for the church. Its extent was a mile all round the building, and the limits were marked by stone crosses, the names of some of which still remain as Maiden’s Cross in the west, White Cross Field in the east, and Lady Cross Bank on the north bank of the river. There is a room called the Sanctuary Chamber. It is over the internal porch at the east end of the slope and seems to have been used by him who watched for those who fled from the anger of blood.


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