The Church of Our Lady
But tucked away, just beside the Hall is a hidden jewel of Northumbrian history
The late chapel of the Delaval Family of Seaton Delaval Hall.
This little church is one of the oldest working churches in England
Open Times are. Easter Sunday and Monday and on Fridays, Sundays and Bank Holidays from the beginning of May
until the end of September.The times are 1pm –
4.30pm on Sundays and 11am – 4.30pm on Fridays and Bank Holidays.
Admission Free –
The Impressions of a Visitor to the Church
The road from Seaton Delaval village down to neighbouring Seaton Sluice is full of surprises. At the end of a straight, tree-
‘The Church of Our Lady in the Parish of Delaval’.
Before you enter the church, the first thing you will notice above the doorway is the ancient window. This was carved originally for the 14th century east window. It is a wonderful piece of medieval workmanship, as it is carved from one piece of stone and only came to light when the porch was built in 1892. It had been lying neglected in the churchyard since being replaced in 1861. The glass in the window is of Victorian origin . The porch, which was build with great hindsight by the then vicar, Reverend Jackson has protected the front of the church, saving it from the ravages of time and preserving it for future generations to enjoy’
Once through the entrance, you will see above the doorway of the church, the original tympanum with a surround of dogs tooth carving. As you can see it is very worn, and what was originally enclosed there is difficult to decipher. Above are three stone shields, the Royal Lion flanked by the Delaval Coat of Arms on either side. It is still possible to make out the shapes, even though they are also very badly weather beaten. These were once part of a tomb complex which was situated further down inside of the church
As you enter and look down into the church you will see the magnificent Norman style of Chancel, Choir and Nave which are separated from each other by two beautiful arches, perfectly carved with chevroned carving and supported by low strong pillars with heavy capitals. The large window that can be seen is where the original Norman apse would have been, but this would have be much smaller. The apse was replaced in the 14th century with a plain window similar to the one you see today.
The first window on the right-
This window was installed in 1840 by the Baron Hastings of the day. It was originally thought that it showed the Prince of Wales who had awarded the Astley family their ‘white plumes’ after the Battle of Crecy. It has subsequently been shown that the heraldry on the prince’ tabard is that of Prince Arthur, the eldest son of Henry VII, brother of Henry who became Henry VIII. It is this Prince Arthur who married Catherine of Aragon. He died very soon after his marriage and his brother then married Catherine. So the window was NOT the Prince of Wales that they originally thought it was.
When the crypt was opened over a hundred years ago, a number of coffin were found. The two coffin plates we have are the only ones that could be saved.
The Right Honourable
Sir Francis Blake Delaval
Knight of the Bath
County of Northumberland
Born 6th March 1727 Died 7th August 1771. AE tat 44
The bodies of the Knight and his Lady are buried in the crypt beneath the altar. We are not quite sure which Delaval he is. He would most likely have been part of an tomb chest which stood where the altar is now. They were separated and have been placed in a number of different spots around the church before arriving where they are now. They are badly damaged and worn, and retain no traces of the gesso and bright colours with which they must once have been enriched.
This is a gothic memorial window, first seen when you enter the church, and dates from 1861. The original decorated window was in place for 500 years. The tracery from this window is above the porch entrance to the church. The glass in the window shows the arms of the Delavals (left), Hastings (centre) and Astleys (right).
In affectionate remembrance of Jacob Baron Hastings, who died Dec.27th 1859 aged 62 years.
This window was erected by his sister, Blanche Astley, 1861
The brackets each side of the window, are two of a number on the walls of the church. These were used to hang flags and armour, but sadly these no longer exist. The flags have disintegrated through time and the armour, helmet and gauntlets stolen.
The shelf on the right was thought to be the credence shelf from the piscina, but it is of a later design. A statue of “Our Lady” stood on the shelf, this would have been removed at the time of the Reformation
To the Glory of god. In loving memory of Basil Delaval Jackson who died at Delaval Vicarage, November, 4th 1893. This widow was erected by his parents.
This was the son of the Reverend Jackson who did much work in preserving the church.
The Delaval part of the name was given to his son as a mark of respect to the Delaval family.
When the Effigies were moved, five of the eight stones from the base were embedded into the wall inside the church. You saw the others when you first entered. The first and fifth are the cross of the crusades, second and fourth are the Delaval arms and in the centre is the Royal lion. These also would have been painted in their original colours.
We know the church was erected on a the site of a Saxon church, because only churches were built of stone, other buildings were of timber. The smaller stones in the right hand corner were part of the Saxon church. The Norman part is where the larger stones start. They also added the nave at the east end of the church.
A Church of Our Lady wedding
We hope you have enjoyed your virtual tour of our little church. If you are ever up here in Northumberland please give us a visit, and you will be able to get that wonderful feeling this tour cannot give you. That of standing in a building which is over nine hundred years old.