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St Brandon Parish Church, Brancepeth, County Durham

Church exterior by Oliver Dixon Courtesy Geograph The parish church of St Brandon had a disastrous fire in 1998, destroying all but the walls. The interior was renovated and the church rededicated in 1995. This information dates from before the fire as applies to the church interior.

Church porch by Alexander Knapp courtesy Geograph The church had its first rector appointed in 1085. At that time it was a large parish, covering Lanchester to Croxdale and Durham city to Wolsingham. The tower was added in the 12th century and the lower part of the nave dates from the 13th century. In the 14th century the nave was extended, the transepts and the chancel were built, and the aisles were widened to enclose the tower. Other changes were the addition of the clerestory after the heightening of the nave.

The 14th century central nave roof was repaired in 1638, and at the same time a north porch was added along with the woodwork of the altar, choir, pews, pulpit and font cover. In 1979 the south chapel was made into a Lady Chapel. The squint in the chapel was used by a priest to see the other priest at the high altar. Screen reredos in this chapel were added in 1979. The front of the altar is part of a 14th century chest. Look for a mouse on the north side, the sign that Thompson Kilburn, the mouse man did the work on it.

Church gate by Alexander Knapp courtesy Geograph The stone stile at the church gate is made from medieval gravestones. Remains of the old Sanctus bell cot are at the east end of the roof. The church has a full peal of bells. There is a pre 14th century stone in the south-east buttress of the chancel. A sundial is carved on the south-west buttress of the nave. Take time to explore the interesting tombstones in the graveyard, one of which is of a doctor dated 1799.

In the church (before the fire) was a font of Frosterley marble; the tomb of 3rd earl of Westmoreland and his son; a 639 allocation of pews diagram on wall by the font; panelling over chancel arch with each square in a different pattern and may be an apprentice piece; upper panelling part of an ancient rood loft; pews in transept were for rector’s family and servants; squire’s pew and his group on other side; 14th century stone effigy in chancel of Robert Neville who died at Berwick in 1319; wooden effigies of 2nd earl of Westmorland and his wife in north transept (they owned Brancepeth until 1569); wooden plaque on north wall was 1625 rector’s memorial to himself (he became a bishop of Durham so was not buried here).

Visitor Information

The church is located in Brancepeth, County Durham
Check the church door regarding opening and/or key.

Photos courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
church exterior by Oliver Dixon; church gate and church porch by Alexander Kapp

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