Newbrough; St. Peter
The present building is perhaps the fourth place of worship to have been sited here, half a mile West of Newbrough village and on the side of the old Roman Stanegate road. Some form of building may have existed here in the 9th century AD. In 1929 whilst grave digging was being undertaken at St. Peter's, a small bronze Roman coin was found: it was a half penny piece of Constantine the Great's reign - AD306 to 337. Excavation work along the North wall revealed Roman pottery and traces of the walls of a Roman building lying NE/SW & covering a third of an acre. Its masonry showed signs of having been re-used and to be of much earlier origin. It was possibly a fortlet built in the 2nd century AD and rebuilt in the 9th century AD after the Romans had left.
In 1113 Augustinian Canons at Hexham Abbey arrived and religious life in this area revived. In 1170 one of them was appointed Vicar of Warden which then had four places of worship the Parish church of St Michael's and three chapels, at Langley, Haydon and Stanecroft - now Newbrough.
No records exist of this Stanecroft chapel, which fell into ruins and was replaced by a new chapel in 1292 AD. A resident chaplain was appointed to St. Peter's in 1293 with a grant of half an acre of land from the Bishop of Durham.
Why is it called St. Peter's? Perhaps because of the site's connection with stone. There was the Stanegate - or Stone Road - passing by it. The district was called Stanecroft (stone quarrying-place). So there was a close enough association with stone in the area to suggest "On this rock I will build my Church" and hence St. Peter as its Patron Saint
Border warfare destroyed much church property and records. We know who were vicars at Warden but few records exist of the chaplains at Newbrough - and none describing this second buildings shape and size. The 14th & 15th centuries saw almost continuous lawlessness in the borders with the consequence that even Hexham Abbey declined.
The Civil war in the 17th century saw further changes with Warden & Newbrough under a Presbyterian Minister from 1693 for nearly 20 years. In 1681 the churchwarden reported St Peter's as "in ruins and much decayed." Some restoration work was done after Archdeacon Sharp's visit in 1732, but in 1792 Archdeacon Thorp reported "the chapel is in ruins but the parishioners have raised £300 to repair it." So a new church was built on the site in 1795: vestry 10' sq, chapel 90' x 30', steeple 116' high and some 30 pews or stalls inside the chapel.
By 1863 this building too had fallen into disrepair and local ratepayer; Mr W Benson, decided to replace it. Under Benson an appeal raised £800 to finance the project. The old church was pulled down in February 1865 and the new St. Peter's opened on the 14th May 1866 at a cost of cost £932-8-3d.
Extensions to the church were carried out in 1880-83, chiefly the chancel extended to 23' x 22' (from 17' x 19') and the vestry enlarged to 22' length from 8'.
In 1883 the present organ was bequeathed to the church by Canon Cruddas, Vicar of Warden 1867-95.
Shortly after the First World War a beautiful lych-gate of oak wood was added by public subscription; it has the names of 39 local men who fell in the Wars engraved on the Prudhamstone gate walls.
The earliest recorded burial at St. Peter's was in 1695 and there are now well in excess of 400 burials, however quite a few burials must have taken place without headstones and some headstones will have inevitably disappeared. A walk around the grave yard shows many large monuments to the land owning families of the area and some interesting table style monuments from a very early period, probably among the first burials in the yard.
Entry into St. Peter's is through a porch on the South west corner of the building, in which is the St. Peter's Sword Stone. Dating from the late 13th century it is simple engraved with the outline of a full sized sword of that period. A sword symbol was widely used as a decoration for a grave stone of men of noble birth
Again in St. Peters the baptistry area is included in the Nave and is situated at the west end. The font is made of stone and is relatively simple octagonal shape.
There are numerous memorials around the walls of the nave, again to the main landowners of the area, in particular, the Benson family of Allerwash, and the Blenkinsop-Coulson family of Newbrough Park.
The Choir and Sanctuary
Most of the windows have stained glass the main one behind the altar being of Christ on the cross, Christ risen and Christ ascending.
The Reredos is dedicated to Walter Benson 1924.