The Cheviot Hills, Northumberland National Park\n© Simon Fraser

St Peter's Church Falstone : By P F Ryder

Falstone Parish Church supposedly stands on an ancient site, and important pieces of Pre-Conquest sculpture have been found in the immediate vicinity. The present building was constructed in 1824 by John Green, but remodelled, after a fire in 1892 by Plummer and Burrel; the porch and chancel were added at this time, and tracery inserted in the windows.

The building consists of a broad three-bay unaisled nave with a south porch and west tower, and a small box-like chancel. The church is built of close-jointed tooled stone with a plinth, buttresses and dressings of diagonally-tooled ashlar. The nave has heavy stepped buttresses between the bays (except on the south where the porch projects between the first and second bays) and at the angles; the chancel has similar buttresses at its eastern angles and the tower taller two-stepped ones at its western ones.  The nave windows are each of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil over, set within a two-centred arch that has a simple chamfered surround. The narrow south porch has a two-centred chamfered doorway.

Porch, nave and chancel all have a hollow-chamfered oversailing course at the eaves and coped gables with moulded kneelers, with gablets above and various forms of cross finials on cross-gabled bases.

On the south side of the tower steps lead up to a doorway with a two-centred chamfered arch; the west window is of two lancet lights with a quatrefoil in the spandrel. The second stage of the tower has a big double-chamfered lancet on west and south and the belfry, above a set-back marked by a big square-section band, a pair of lancets on each side. There is a bold moulded string below the simple crenellated parapet. In the angle between the north wall of the tower and west wall of the nave is a boiler room, probably an addition, wuth a two-centred doorway on the west and a quatrefoil loop in a circular frame on the north.

The chancel only has one window, on the east, of three trefoil-headed lights with simple geometrical tracery - two big and one small quatrefoils - within a chamfered four-centred arch. A moulded string below the window is extended along the side walls.

Inside the church the walls are of snecked roughly-pecked stone. The tower arch is of two-centred form and of one continuous chamfered order; the chancel arch is more elaborate, and of four centred form. Its deeply-moulded inner order is carried by semi-octagonal corbels with deeply-fluted bases, but its chamfered outer order is continued unbroken to the ground. The windows have chamfered rear arches of two-centred form.

In the north wall of the chancel is a small inserted aumbry, above the panelled dado, which has a cresting of small pierced fleur-de-lys and trefoils. The nave has a boarded wagon roof, with trefoil piercings to the eaves.

Despite the substantial improvements to the infrastructure and administrative organisation of the Anglican Church in upper North Tynedale by the early 19th century, the Presbyterian community remained by far the more numerous of the two churches. By 1807 the Presyterian congregation of Falstone with Kielder totalled 1000 and when Archdeacon Singleton made a visitation to Falstone in 1832 only about 30 out of a total population in the parish of 550 actually attended St Peter's Church.

As noted above, a new Presbyterian meeting house was built to the west of the old chapel, on the opposite side of the Falstone Burn, in 1735 The site was donated by the owner of Hawkhope Hill Farm. The meeting house was rebuilt at a cost of £420 in 1807, during the second ministry of James Wood (1803-15), when it was also agreed to provide the minister with a house and garden. In 1876 the meeting house was again restored and a tower built at a total cost of £527, as non-conformism took on some of the architectural trappings of Anglicanism (Charlton 1987, 127; see below for further details).

Falstone Parish Church © NNPA

Picture : Falstone Parish Church

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