St. Lawrence's Church, Warkworth
Possible Saxon Nunnery
At the lower end of the main street of this small town, otherwise dominated by the fortress of the great Percy family, the bespired church of St. Lawrence holds its own. It is a splendid mid-12th century Norman church with many original features. Later additions include the 13th century tower, 14th century spire and late 15th century south aisle.
The ecclesiastical site dates back to before AD 737 when King Ceowulf gave St. Lawrence's at 'Wercewode' to the monks of Lindsifarne. It may be that there was a nunnery here, for an Abbess, named Werce, is known to have given gifts to the Venerable Bede. This first church was destroyed by the Danish King Halfdan and his men in AD 875, but a slightly later stone building has been traced beneath the present structure and a Saxon cross can be seen in the chancel.
John Wesley preached here in 1761 and, earlier, the town had become the first place in which the 'Old Pretender,' was declared King James III, after the vicar had refused to pray for him at Morning Prayers. The church, however, has always been inextricably linked with the Percy Earls of Northumberland who were long resident at the nearby castle. Harry Hotspur attended church here as a boy and the fine effigial tomb of Sir Hugh D'Aublyn (1330) was a family attendant. Royal connections are shown by the gravestone of William Baker, emissary of Queen Margaret of Anjou (wife of King Henry VI). There are further interesting tombs in the churchyard including the early American traveller, Edward Cook.
The church is a regular place of worship owned by the Church of England. Free Entry, but donations welcome.
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