Warden; St. Michael and all Angels
The Parish of Warden, Fourstones and Newbrough lies approximately 5 miles north west of Hexham, in Northumberland, England and adjacent to a long stretch of Hadrian's Wall.
It is part of the Hexham Deanery of the Church of England Diocese of Newcastle. There are three Anglican churches in the parish; St Michael and All Angels in Warden, St Aidan's in Fourstones and St Peter's in Newbrough. The Parish shares it's Vicar, the Reverend Jeremy Thompson, with the neighbouring parish of St John Lee at Acomb.
The three villages, and the surrounding farms and properties house a total population of around 1,300. Local amenities in the villages also include a Methodist Church, the Town Hall, a C of E assisted primary school, three pubs, a petrol station with shop and country store, a garage service centre, various B&Bs and other local businesses.
The first "Church" on this site was built by Wilfrid, Bishop of Hexham in 704 A.D. and whilst it is not known how many times the church was rebuilt after the invasions of the Scots and the Danes, the greater part of the present church was built in 1764 by Sir Walter Blackett of Wallington. The eleventh century Saxon arch, connecting the nave with the base of the tower is the oldest surviving part of the building and many of the stones forming the arch are Roman. The Chancel owes its present appearance to the Reverend Cruddas who was vicar from 1867-95 and reflects revived interest in medieval architecture. The church tower has four successive stages the bottom stage probably being the oldest Saxon Tower in Northumberland.
The church is open daily through the summer for visitors.
Intended as a shelter for coffins on arrival at the church the Lych-Gate was erected in 1903 by Reverend Cruddas. The building is a Grade 1 listed building in its own right. Near the outside wall, note the mounting block for those who used to come to church on horseback.
As you go through the Lych-Gate, to the right, in the churchyard are three graves dating back to 1862. These have been protected against body snatchers, who used to sell bodies for "medical research", by hooped iron bars. The church itself is built of stone with a stone tiled roof, the gable ends of the roof being surmounted with ornamental crosses.
Near the porch is the remains of an ancient cross known as the Warden Cross. This type of cross was seen after the battle of Heavenfield. This type of cross was used as a focal point for preaching and praying before churches were built.
In the porch of the church there are several coffins and grave covers, the most interesting one being of the "Warden man". It is thought to be a reused Roman altar which may date from around 1100.
At St. Michael's the Baptistry is part of the Nave at the rear of the church with a plain stone font.
In the chancel, behind the Vicar's stall we have the lists of incumbents of Warden beginning with Hugh de Mohacet in 1170 up to the present day, a record which shows the great age on the building. In the Chancel there is a well preserved Saxon grave cover, shaped like a roof. Again around the Chancel there are numerous monuments, mainly to previous incumbents and their families. Of particular interests are the stained glass windows depicting the four evangelists and the reredos all of which were memorials to the Cruddas family.
Behind the font we have the oldest part of the church, the eleventh century arch connecting to the tower. To the left of the archway is an oak panelled war memorial to those of the parish who died in World War 1. It is made from fragments of the old reredos. There are various memorials around the church mainly dedicated to the various land owners of the area.