Longhorsley, Past and Present
Compiled and written by Kristina Robyn Rogerson
Longhorsley, a village which lies on the land between Whembly Burn and Linden. This fine land, where the sandstone stratum is spread to great breadth, was probably, in Saxon times, the Horse ley, the land on which the horses were grazed, from which this manor derived it's name. The addition of 'Long' is of rare occurrence in ancient writings. It was probably added to distinguish it from the Horsley in the parish of Ovingham. In the oldest records it is simply called Horsley or, in some cases, North Horsley.
The Parish of Longhorsley from North to South from Weldon Bridge to Gorfenletch is about five miles long and it's extreme width from the west side of Wingates to the eastern boundary of the parish near Bockenfield is about seven miles.
The manor of Longhorsley was originally part of the Gospatrick Barony, Gospatrick being the Earl of Northumberland in the times of William the Conqueror, and was given, during the reign of Henry I, to Ranaulph DeMerlay, who was Baron of Morpeth, on his marriage with Juliana, the daughter of Gospatrick the first Earl of Dunbar and Great- Granddaughter of Gospatrick Earl of Northumberland.
Through the failure of the male line of DeMerlay, in 1266 the family estates devolved on Mary and Isabel, daughters and co-heirs of Roger DeMerlay. They married respectively to William Baron of Graystock and Robert of Summerville. On the division of lands the manor of Horsley fell to the share of the Baron of Graystock in the right of his wife, Mary. A great part of the manor remained vested in the family of Graystock and their descendants until the beginning of the nineteenth century, when it was sold to Charles William Bigge, the Earl of Carlisle in 1808. This was later to be known as the Bigge's Quarter.
The manor of Longhorsley became divided into 3 quarters the Bigge's Quarter, the first. The second, the Freeholders quarter contained about 845 acres, which, in 1809 were rated for the courts and gaols in Newcastle, on a rental of £701.10s per year. Besides several freeholders in the village of Longhorsley it comprises, within it's circuit, some hamlets or farmsteads of Blackpool, Muckley and West Moor just to name a few.
At an early period, about the time of Henry III, a family taking the local name of Horsley acquired possessions within the manor, this, the third and final quarter, was later to become the Riddell's Quarter, taking the name from Thomas Riddell who was a direct descendent to the Horsley family through the maternal side.
The Horsleys gradually increased in possessions and influence and early acquired knightly Rank. It was on their behalf and doubtless by them that the tower of Longhorsley, now-a-days known as the Pele Tower, was built, probably as late as the reign of Henry VII.
The existing building is a fine specimen of a strongly fortified tower of the fifteenth century, with a slight addition of a later period. It has a fine view to the coast and North West. A beacon, lighted on the summit of the tower at night, would be clearly seen far out at sea and would be plainly visible from the hilltops above Rothbury. Built in times of battle, as a defence against raiding Scots from across the border. It is possible that there was a building on the same site which fell into disrepair and was rebuilt as the present Tower of Longhorsley, which was destined to become, in later days, the peaceful home of the catholic clergy of the Village.
During most of the eighteenth century Morpeth was served by Jesuit priests from Longhorsley. The last Jesuit priest was Father Joseph Howe, he died in Longhorsley in 1798. He lived in the Pele Tower, which at that time was owned by the Widdringtons, who were descendants of the Horsley's and ancestors of the Riddell's. They were Catholics but Joseph Howe was not their Chaplain although under their patronage.
Edward Widdrington II son of Edward Widdrington I and Dorothy, daughter of Thomas Horsley, married Elizabeth daughter of the third Lord Molyneaux. She left, in her will, a sum of money for the Catholic Church in Longhorsley for the maintenance and support of a priest being of the society of Jesus for ever after in the parish of Longhorsley.
The new church, of Saint Thomas the Martyr, was built in 1834, close up to the Pele Tower, and took the place of the old chapel at the top of the Pele Tower, which is now a private residence.
The stand in which the Northern people, as a body made against the introduction of Protestantism is a matter of in itself and the older blood of Northumberland, to a great extent, remained strongly attached to the Catholic religion.
The first Church of England Church was built in a field known as Ellege about a half a mile south of the village. It is not known exactly why it was built so far away from the village as no traces of buildings show that a village ever stood near it. A possible answer to this could be that the sandstone is very close to the surface in the village and it would therefore prove very difficult to dig down far enough for a grave.
Nothing remains of this Norman Church as it was entirely rebuilt in 1783 on the same site, but it is described as having a low Norman arch and marble pillars which, being broken, were replaced by four freestone pillars in 1763. A large bell was provided and hung for use in 1725 and in 1731 Archdeacon Sharp's notes say that there had been a "handsome gallery" erected since his last visitation.
At a meeting of the freeholders and the majority of the farmers, on 13 March 1783, it was agreed that the church wardens and a committee should inspect the workmanship of the re-building of the new church, which was dedicated to Saint Helen, and transact all business there to.
This church is a plain building with a porch on the west end of the south wall. At the west end is a bell-cott and the same is on the east side but without the bell. The chancel was built in 1798 by Mr. Wallis Ogle of Causey Park. He also offered to give a vestry but this was opposed.
In 1826 Charles W. Bigge of Linden became proprietor of the new church which was by purchase from the Ogle family. He placed, in the chancel, a communion table and rails of black oak which ad been dug from a bog on his estate.
In the east end of the chancel is a glass window given in memory of Sarah Elizabeth Ames, of Linden, by her husband, Louis Eric Ames, in 1869.
As the church was quite a way out of the village, the parish room was used for the services during the winter. This, in very early years, was originally used as the Church of England school. The building is on the east side of the school house.
At a meeting of the vicar, the church wardens and the principle inhabitants of two of the quarters belonging to Longhorsley, on the 18 July 1751, it was unanimously agreed that a new school should be built. A draft was immediately drawn up to show which people were required to bring certain materials for the building. This was built on the west side of the School house and served the village until 1966 when due to the inconvenient position of the church and the vast amount of money needed for the building repairs etc., there was no electricity or water there, it was decided not to continue to use it for services but to adapt the church of England school. This building is now the Church of Saint Helen, the first service being held there on the evening of Friday 4 November 1966 and a new and very modern school was built. In 1981 a new entrance to the church was made and a new porch was built. The stone, slates and doors for this were brought up from the old church porch. The old parish room, the original school, on the east side of the school house is now the garage of the school house, now a private residence.
When the old school was used the canteen for this was along the East road and the School on the West Road. The children had to cross over the main road to get to it everyday at lunch time. The head master of the time, 1952, Mr. Gorden was concerned about the safety of the children and applied to the council for a stick with a large circle on the top of it with a red ring around the words "Caution Children Crossing" but this idea was turned down. Instead the council sent him two large boards which were easily blown down in the wind and they proved to be more dangerous than letting the children cross without any sign at all so Mr. Gorden soon stopped using them. A few years later the 'lollipop' stick was introduced. Whether this had anything to do with Mr. Gorden's proposal we will probably never know.
Louis Eric Ames of Linden had a Catholic school built in Longhorsley, about the time of the early 1880's possibly in memory of his wife Sarah Elizabeth. The stone for this came from a quarry in the area opposite to the site on which it was built. Rutherford the mason quarried the stone and he built the school himself. This school closed at about the turn of the century and is now a private dwelling.
The new Church of England first school was built and first used in 1966 when the old school became the church. It is larger than the other one, with a total of three class rooms now all being used although there were times when only two were used as there were not enough children attending. The school was nearly closed down at one point but since the new housing estates of Whitegates and Reivers Gate have been built they have brought more children into the village and the school should not now close. The Children from the neighbouring villages of Netherwitton and Longwitton also attend the school in Longhorsley
Where the Newsagents shop now stands two old cottages once stood. These buildings were bought by Mrs. Ann Bell in 1875, to make way for the Belmont building. Even to this day foundation stones from the original cottages are still visible in front of the shop. Belmont is the house where Longhorsley Mission began. It provided an upper room where Christians could worship and also a quest room for visiting speakers. Initially it was known as Longhorsley Hall. The mission was established in 1875 in this building by Miss Mary Ann Bell and her mother Ann who realised the need for a proper mission hall. Belmont was used for over one hundred years until 1979 when a new Mission Hall was built in Drummonds Close opposite the new vicarage which is nest to the new school.
Before the new shop was built Ann Bell's husband, William ran a grocery business from a small shop just across from the two cottages until he died in 1854, then Ann continued to keep it going assisted by her second son, Robert, until the Belmont building was built in 1875.
In the shop flour was sold, possibly that which was ground at the village Mill Farm, this flour was sold as Bell's Royal flour. Ann's third son Thomas Bell loved to experiment and he experimented with baking powder and the effects rising agents have when used in flour. He produced the firs 'self-raising' flour and called it Bell's Royal Self -raising flour. Later he took the first two letters of each of the words Bell's and Royal and became the founder of the Be-Ro Works, which has now recently been taken over by McDougalls.
The Shop across the Road from the Newsagent's shop, also has a famous background. In 1913, on a fine morning of May, a telegram boy knocked on the door of the stone built corner shop, now the village Post Office. The Post Office message was addressed to the most militant suffragette in England, Emily Wilding Davison. This telegram was to result in the violent death of this 40 year old woman.
Emily Davison was born on 11th October 1872 at Blackheath, although she was born outside the county she was certainly from good Northumbrian stock, her father from Morpeth and her mother from Longhirst. She was educated at Kingston High School and as a teenager was very intelligent. After passing the Oxford and Cambridge High School Certificate at the age of 19 she went on to attend Holloway College where she studied English Language and Literature. During the two years she was at the College she must have passed Holloway prison for women many a time, little would she have known that she, herself, would be imprisoned within the forbidding walls, some years later.
It was when she was attending Holloway College that her family moved back to Northumberland, After the death of her father, her mother had to open a bakery in Longhorsley to make a living. Emily had to get a job teaching to make ends meet, but she carried on studying for her honours degree in her spare time. As a result she was awarded a first class honours degree in English Language and Literature. Old Longhorsley villagers still recall the day Emily got news of her Oxford degree and say that when she found out, she ran into her mothers shop, grabbed a jar of Black Bullets and ran out onto the village green where she found the children playing. She threw the sweets into the air for all the children to catch.
In 1906 she joined Emmeline Pankhirst and the suffragettes and was involved in many militant actions over the next few years, which resulted in imprisonment.
After she received the telegram, which was later to result in her death, she was said to be distinctly unhappy, but the mystery of who the telegram was from and what it said remains just that.
She soon left for Epsom Downs, and after buying her return ticket to Epson she was on her way. On the bright and clear day of the Epsom Derby with the King and Queen present, she found herself a place by the rails at Tattenham Corner. Suddenly there was a sound of galloping horses. There, running towards her, was the King's horse, Anmar. Emily placed her race card in front of her eyes as a shield and dashed under the railings to the centre of the course to pin the union colours, Green White and Violet for Give Women Votes, on Anmar. This was the plan the went disastrously wrong, Emily was struck by the horses flying hooves and flung into the air and onto the ground some distance away.
Emily was rushed into Epsom Cottage Hospital where it was found she had a fractured skull, she died on June 8th 1913, 4 days after the Epsom Derby day, and is now buried in the family grave in St. Mary's Graveyard, Morpeth.
Emily Davison is not the only well known person who resided in the village of Longhorsley. Cecil Phillip Taylor was born in Glasgow on 6th November 1929. He was Educated at Queens Park Secondary School, Glasgow. He married Irene Diamond in 1955 and had two Children, Avram and Clare, from this marriage. Then in 1967 he married Elisabeth Screen, and had another two children, David and Catheryn from his second marriage. He moved to Longhorsley shortly after his second marriage. He and his wife, who is still living in the village, raised their two children here.
He was known throughout the country as a unique figure in the works of theatre. He established his writing career at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh before moving to the North East of England.
Among others his plays include:
When Cecil P Taylor died on 9th December 1981 the North East was stunned, and acknowledged the loss of a great writer. He was buried in the village in the Graveyard of St Helen next to the old Church in the field known as Ellege.
Catherine Cockburn, another playwright living in Longhorsley, only not quite in our lifetime. She was born in London on 16th August 1679 and moved to Longhorsley with her husband, Patrick Cockburn, in 1728. She started to write verses at the early age of 14 and her first tragedy, Agnes de Castro, was produced at the Theatre Royal in 1695 when she was only 16 years of age.
Her Husband Patrick Cockburn was born in Aberdeenshire in 1678. In 1708 he married and also obtained Curacy of Nayland Suffolk, but probably only temporary Curate in Charge as the sole reference to him in the Nayland registers is the entry of the baptism on 13th April 1712 of their daughter Mary. Patrick and his wife Catherine died within a few months of each other in 1749 and there is a joint memorial to them in stone on the east side of the old Church of St. Helen.
From Wingates came Robert Morrison. There is no record of his birth to be found, at least not by me, but it is claimed that he was born in Wingates on 5th January 1781. Robert first apprenticed to his father, a last and boot maker. Also well drilled in scriptures and catechism from strict Presbyterian forebears, he was given further instruction by a minister of High Bridge Presbyterian church in Newcastle and was a keen student. Later learning Hebrew, Latin and Greek and reading Theology. He eventually achieved his greatest desire to be a missionary. He then gained knowledge of the Chinese and French languages. In January 1807 he embarked for China and spent the first 16 months as a teacher there.
In 1810 the Acts of the Apostles was published in Chinese followed by St. Luke's Gospel in 1811. In conjunction with William Milner he completed the Old and New Testaments, the Book of Common Prayer and many other religious books, in Chinese, He, afterwards, went on to compile a Chinese Dictionary.
From the Middle of the 18th century there was a medicinal Spa at the Chirm, Wingates. The water belonged to the cold class of springs. Dr. Samual Davison of Rothbury wrote in 1792 that the water had a decided superiority and advantage over other springs in the area and had already been beneficial to hundreds of people in the county and cures had followed taking the water and bathing. The taste was said to be somewhat acid with a strong inky flavour.
The best seasons for taking the water was from April to the beginning of June, and mid August to mid October. There was an outdoor bath measuring 10ft by 6ft and 5ft deep, which took two hours to fill from the spring. This does not remain.
Thomlinson, in his "Guide" said Wingates Spa was once much resorted to for its medicinal waters. The spring was in a lovely valley but has, unfortunately, almost stopped flowing due to nearby coal workings.
Linden Hall was built by Mr. Charles William Bigge after the Carlisle Quarter, later becoming the Linden or Bigge's Quarter of the village in 1808. This huge house was on of the first works of John Dobson, the famous Newcastle architect. He designed it in collaboration with Sir Charles Monck. Work was started on the house in 1811, but it may not have been completed until 1813 as this date is carved under the stairs. The stones for the building were quarried from the moor and some of the mahogany woodwork is said to have come from an old mansion on the quay in Newcastle.
Charles William Bigge was not only a partner in a local Merchant Bank but was also deeply involved in politics, being High Sheriff of Northumberland Liberal Party and Mayor of Morpeth in 1836. He also helped to establish the Newcastle Racket Court, the Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society, the Northumberland Agricultural Society and became the first President of the Newcastle Mechanics Institute in 1824, at the time that George Stephenson was the first Chairman. Mr. Bigge's great great great grandson, the Honourable George Edward Ardeane, borne 1939, is now a barrister at law and has been Private Secretary and Treasurer to H. R. H. The Prince of Wales since 1979.
After the death of C. W. Bigge in 1849 the estate remained in the family until 1861 when it was sold by auction to Henry Metcalf Ames Esq. a County Magistrate for Northumberland. The Ames family lived in the Hall through two generations until 1903 when Louis Eric Ames built Ghyllheugh. This is a smaller, yet still a fairly large sized house to that of Linden Hall. It was built on some of the land which was part of the Linden Estate as Mr Ames felt the hall was to big. This house has been, at one time, the private residence of Mrs. Barbour, the owner of the Barbour Jacket Company.
In 1903 the Linden Hall was purchased by Lawrence William Adamson. In 1911, following his death, his son, Colonel John George Adamson, and his two daughters moved into the Hall from Ireland. The Adamsons brought with them many important items of furniture and fittings including the white marble Adam fireplace which can still be seen in what is now the 'Monck Cocktail Bar'. Colonel John Adamson died in the late 1920's Linden Hall and it's estate to his two daughters, Muriel and Eve. It was Muriel Alice Adamson who gave the village Adamson's park.
During the 60 years that the Adamson family occupied Linden Hall they were served by a full complement of staff, some serving at Linden for the whole of their working lives, and whom today still remember their time at Linden. Many of them would have lived in the staff quarters and others would have occupied the surrounding cottages. Also during the 'Adamson' period the Hall was, at one time, maintained as an auxiliary hospital for sick and wounded British soldiers from the First World War between March 1916 and April 1919.
After Miss Muriel Adamson's death the Hall and it's contents were sold by auction to John M. Liddell, who occupied it with his family until 1978 when the whole Linden Estate was purchased by the Newcastle family Business, Callers-Pegasus Travel Service Ltd., under whose direction the Hall and it's 300 acre estate have been tastefully restored to recapture the elegance of the original mansion and made into an hotel.
Beacon Hill Farm is situated in the unspoilt countryside, between the Cheviot Hills and the coastline, on the site of an ancient beacon, next in line to that of the Horsley Tower, and with it's elevated position has magnificent views. The farm now has six self-catering farm holiday cottages. All the cottages are furnished to a very high standard and have every modern convenience available to them including a sports complex, sauna and swimming pool.
Longhorsley Moor was the site for the Longhorsley Race Course. On one day in October every year the villagers would meet for the annual horse races. There would be a total of four races each about a mile long and the boundary race which, I believe, still goes on. When the races began is not known exactly, but the Racecourse is mentioned in a map dated 1770. The races were held every year until just before the Second World War.
In 1828 a new mail service began. A light two horse carriage was used for this new fast mail service between Newcastle and Edinburgh. The vehicle picked up mail and newspapers in Morpeth and travelled via Longhorsley, Wooler and Coldstream, this rout being about 10 miles shorter than the lower road. It was said to be the most rapid mail in the country, and travelling about 11 miles per hour, arrived in Edinburgh two hours ahead of the ordinary coach, which continued to go via Alnwick, and as it left two hours after the other coach it allowed more time to answer letters by return post. But the speed it travelled was very distressing to the horses. The coach on it's way along the rout passed over Longhorsley Moor. It was on this bleak moor one dark and stormy winters night, around 1890, that a mail gig was blown over, the drivers neck being broken. Well that is one story, another is that he sheltered from the snow in the doorway of a small cottage on the moor to wait until the storm died down and there he froze to death. And another story is that the driver fell into the dike beside the road. Perhaps the mail gig was blown over, and the driver fell in the dike, broke his neck but managed to crawl out to seek shelter at the door of the cottage where he froze to death. One thing we do know is a man did die on the moor that night and which ever story is true, it is said that the ghost of the postman, Mr. Pattern, haunts the cottage still as he walks the route he travelled on the night he died. The route he took now passes through a bedroom of the new extended cottage, Cross Cottage, now a Restaurant. The owners of the Restaurant say that on the first fall of snow each year the bedclothes are ruffles and the pillow has a head shaped impression in it!
The Cottage, now converted to The Baronial Restaurant, which is influenced by Spanish culture, might have at one time been a small holding it itself as traces of the foundations of farm buildings can still be seen in the fields next to it. The owners, The Glenwrights, moved into the cottage, in 1976, when it was just a tiny house and they built it themselves to what it is today. The Restaurant opened as a small unknown roadside Tea Room and grew gradually to what it is now, a fair sized Restaurant, well known for it's magnificent presentation of the dishes, which people come for from miles around.
Tudor Lodge, formally known as Croftside, situated just over one mile west of the village, was, during and shortly after the Second World War, a hostel for refugees from Eastern Europe. Afterwards it became a piggery and then it was turned into Restaurant and Caravan Park at the end of the 1960's until the late 1980's when it changed ownership. It is still a Caravan Park now running under the name of Tudor Lodge.
Longhorsley is also the home of Gloria, she is a camel living at the home of the local Vetenarian with a wide range of other unusual and exotic animals. In addition to the many kinds of sheep and cattle to be found on an ordinary farm this on also has some Vietnamese Pot Bellied Pigs. Llamas, Wallabies and even a snake. He decided to draw the line at an elephant when offered one though!
The Mill Farm was a small holding originally farmed by the Miller family and later owned by the Appleby family. The Mill was stood on the edge of the Wembley burn on the other side of the road to the Old Church and was remembered, by some older villagers, standing but not in use, the stacks of corn then being taken to Weldon Bridge to be ground. It is known that the original Mill was struck by lightning and rebuilt to a more modern design. Extra stone was brought from Earsden Mill which was also struck by lightning.
Until recently the foundations of the Horsley Mill could still be seen but now are no longer visible. The Applebys were the last occupants of the house there before it crumbled. They then moved to the farmhouse at the Cross-roads. This building used to be the Black Bull in and was the frequent stop for coaches passing through the village as this Inn also had the stables for the horses to rest. The Inn closed down shortly before the Applebys moved in. Since the Farm house has been demolished there has been farm buildings on the grounds for many years but they too were demolished in 1989 to make way for the new housing estate of Reivers Gate.
The Rose and Thistle Inn, which until recently has been the Rose and Thistle Gallery, stands next to what is now the Post Office. Standing on the other side of the Inn were some outbuilding and stables etc. These were rebuilt in 1930 as work shops with a dance hall above it which was soon converted into two houses. But the workshops remained there and petrol pumps were added. Later, in 1965 It was all converted into one house still with the Garage and petrol pumps. Unfortunately, in the 1970's the pumps had to be taken away from the garage because they were considered to be to close to the road. The Garage, although still there, is no longer used.
The third and final public house in the village is the Shoulder of Mutton. This is the only one which still remains as a public house. The Shoulder of Mutton Inn also known in very early years as the Star Inn was owned by Ellen Jefferies until her son, Andrew, took over in the early 1850's. His son Robert and Robert's twin sons Andrew and Robert were all born there. The family ran the Inn until 1939 when Mr and Mrs Cooper took over. The Pub has changed hands considerably since then. The Inn had a face lift in 1989 by the owner of the time Mr David Latimer, with a completely new decoration inside and out and a Restaurant added which certainly has paid off.
The village consists of the West Road and the East Road, which was the original village. Then in 1910 Coronation Terrace was built. This is a small street of council houses now all bought over.
Drummonds Close was the next to be built in 1951. It was a street of council houses some of which have now been bought over by there occupants.
In the late 1970's to the early 1980's there were plans to build a new housing estate. This was to be built on the south side of the village. After much debate plans went ahead and it was completed after having a second phase in the mid 1980's. The new estate is called Whitegates and now there is an even newer estate being built in-between Whitegates and the village this I believe is called Badgers Ford.
The old vicarage, now a private residence stands opposite the old school house on the south side. This big house was used as the vicarage until 1980 when the new one was built in Drummonds Close next to the new school. Reverend T.R.G. Hughes was the last vicar to live in the old house and Reverend Robert Rhodes was the first to live in the new one which has changed occupancy a number of times since.
A comrades Hall was used as the first Village Hall after the First World War. It was situated behind what used to be the blacksmith's shop at the cross-roads in the centre of the village. Since then various buildings have been used such as a hut beside the village green, a nissan hut beside the Shoulder of Mutton and also Rose Cottage which was down the East Road. For a while there was no Village Hall until 1988 when the new and permanent Village Hall was completed. This stands between the bottom end of Drummonds Close and the new housing estate of Whitegates.
In 1989 there was yet another housing estate built. This time on the site of the old Black Bull Inn. This is called Reivers Gate. The village of Longhorsley has grown considerably over the last few years more so that in has over the centuries before. If the village gets any bigger it will become a town! There has already been talk of a Longhorsley bypass; let's hope it is only talk!
I would like to thank everyone in the village who has taken their time to give me the most vital pieces of information not to be found in books or reference of any kind but only to be passed down from generation to generation.
I also would like to give my special thanks to Miss H. M. Oliver a local historian in the village of Longhorsley who helped me enormously in my research of the very early history as well as a little with the more recent.