Amble and District
     Local History


Alban Butler's "Lives of the Saints"
The text here refers to Alban Butler's "Lives of the Saints":

ST. HENRY, IN NORTHUMBERLAND. (a.d. 1127.) ['English Martyrologies'. His life from Capgrave.]

St. Henry was of Danish origin. Leaving his parents and wife, he resolved to serve God in solitude, and escaped to Coquet Island, off the coast of Northumberland. His relatives came after him, urging him to return to his home ; then, in an agony of doubt, he cast himself before his crucifix, and implored God to reveal to him what was His will. Then it seemed to him that the Saviour said to him, " Abide here, play the man, and strengthen thine heart to resist. I have called thee in mine eternal purpose."

So he remained, and laboured in the islet, and a few brethren joined him, but lived in separate cells. And when he died, they heard the bell of his little hovel ring violently, so they ran, and found him dead, with the bell rope in his hand, and the candle by his side was alight.

His body was taken to Tynemouth, and was buried in the church of the Blessed Virgin, near that of St. Oswin.

Amble Manor House


Amble Manor House Ruins Northumberland

The Manor ruins today (surrounding modern buildings removed from the image)


Amble Manor House Reconstruction

Drawing of the Manor House, Amble, East Elevation. (Original by William Butler)


ground plan, from an excavation carried out by J.T. Carse prior to the construction of the Catholic school-chapel.
 Most of this now resides under the new building.

The following was originally printed in the "Northern Catholic Calendar" in the 1880's. The land on which the present Catholic church is built was part of the manor house, and this extract has references to it.

          AMBLE: The Sacred Heart and St. Cuthbert.—Amble, formerly Ambell, is a small seaport town, seated on a lofty eminence overlooking the German Ocean at the mouth of the River Coquet, in Northumberland. The harbour takes its name not from Amble. but from Warkworth. It and its immediate neighbourhood are rich in relics and reminiscences of ancient Catholic times. In Amble itself was a Monastery— a cell of the Priory of Tynemouth—now an ivy-covered ruin, with its Manor-House in part still standing. This is the site recently purchased for the new Mission, on which the School-Chapel has been built—one of the few instances of the ancient possessions of the Church reverting to her.
          Below, at a little distance from the shore, lies Coquet Island. Venerable Bede speaks of it in his " Life of St. Cuthbert" as the dwelling place of monks. It also belonged, at a later period, to the monks of Tynemouth, and a ruin of their cell—a mere fragment embodied in the walls of the modern Lighthouse —yet testifies to their existence and the austerity of their hermit life. Among the holy anchorites that lived and died there was one St. Henry. He was an Englishman of honourable parentage, who, in spite of the solicitations of his family and friends, forsook the world and its allurements and gave himself up to an eremetical life on this little island, eating and drinking but once in twenty-four hours, and then only bread and water He died in the odour of sanctity on the 16th of January 1127 in his hermitage on the sea and was buried by the monks in their Priory Church at Tynemouth, near the body of St Oswin. His feast was marked in the Calendar on the above-named day—the day of his death.N
          About a mile and a half up the Coquet is Warkworth, with its grand old Castle, its monastery ruins, its church, its chantry, and its hermit's cell. Warkworth takes us back to the eighth century—to the days of the Saxon King, Ceolwulf, who gave the lands here and the church which he had built to the Monks of Lindisfarne. and then, A.D. 737, himself took the cowl in their cloister on Holy
Island. The Church, dedicated to St. Lawrence, was rebuilt in the Norman style and yet retains many of its Catholic features. In the reign of Henry II the town and castle were destroyed by William the Lion, and the church was the scene of a terrible sacrilege in the massacre of upwards of a hundred men, besides women and children, who had taken refuge in its sanctuary. "Alas ! " writes the Abbot of Peterborough, "then were heard the screams of women, the lamentations of the aged, the groans of the dying, and the despairing cries of the young." Bishop Flambard of Durham, here founded a chantry in the reign of Henry III, and his successor Nicholas 'de Farnham, by the appropriation of the Church of Branxton, provided for the maintenance of two Benedictine monks from Durham. Of this nothing now remains
          With the castle—lordly as it is and memorable in the annals of the land--this paper does not concern ; but what Catholic in the North of England, though he might not have read Bishop Percy's charming ballad, has not heard of the HERMIT OF WARKWORTH and his "little lowly" hermitage? The hermit has been reported to be a Bertram of Mitford, and, in the expiation of a murder of a brother, he embraced this penitential mode of life.
          His memory was held in great veneration, especially by the Percy family, who subsequently maintained a chantry-priest or hermit to celebrate Mass in the Hermitage Chapel. The Hermitage itself is hewn out of the precipitous rock close by the river's bank, and has its inner chapel, its altar, its piscine, its hagiscope, its cell, its niche, its columns, its groined roof and bosses richly carved. On the inner wall, over the entrance, is a Latin rendering of Psalm XLI., 4 "My tears have been my bread day and night."
        Close by Amble is Gloucester Hill, an old residence or Manor House of the Bishops Palatine of Durham. Hauxley, a fishing village to the south of Amble, belonged to the Priory of Tynemouth, as appears by a charter of Richard Coeur de Leon. Other evidences of the faith, piety, and munificence of our old forefathers before Henry VIII was King, are to be found round Amble and Warkworth, within the limits of the present mission ; but the great chasm which separates the past from the present must now be leapt over.
          Well nigh three hundred years passed away before the Catholic Religion could again plant its foot in Amble—formerly so instinct with Catholic life. In the year 1840 the Warkworth Harbour Works then commencing, attracted a considerable number of Irish labourers, many of whom were lodged in temporary wooden huts.
          The Rev. William Fletcher, who was then stationed at Longhorsley, twelve miles distant, generously offered his services to provide for his poor fellow Catholics. He continued, until his death from fever in the fatal year 1847, to say Mass and preach on alternate Sundays, and occasionally on week-days in the Cliff House on the Links. After his death the good work went on under his successors, the Rev. James Hubbersty who left Longhorsley in 1853 and is since dead, and the Rev. John S. Rogerson, now Right Rev. Monsignore Rogerson, D.D., English Chaplin in Paris.
          About this time, owing to the cessation of the Harbour Works, the little flock became reduced in numbers and the Mission was served only once a month. In 1859 the charge of the district was entrusted to the Rev. Joseph Gibson, of Alnwick, who officiated occasionally until 1868. From that year Amble ceased to be ranked as one of the Missions of the Diocese, and it was not until 1877 that its name reappeared in the official list in the Catholic Directory and Northern Calendar. Steps were then taken as the place was once more growing in importance and population and a bequest had been made for the purpose by the late Colonel Leslie, to re-establish the mission on a more regular and durable footing, and Rev. Charles Gregory Smith, O.S B., of Felton, volunteered for the work. With the hearty cooperation of the Bishop, the Right Rev. Dr. Chadwick, and the good will of Mr. C. S. Leslie, of Hassop Hall, Derbyshire, in trust of whom much of the land in Amble is held, and with the assistance of friends, he succeeded in procuring some parcels of land—on one of which stands the manor house of the monastery—and a large and handsome School-Chapel. This was solemnly opened by the Bishop on 22nd June, 1879, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as recounted in the Chronicle of last year's calendar. Since that time the congregation has gradually increased, the school has been opened with every prospect of success.
          Thus the pious wishes of the late Countess of Newburgh are at length in a large measure fulfilled. It is through her that the Leslie trust estates at Amble are inherited. In her life-time she contributed an annual sum for the service of the Mission and ardently longed to see the day when it would be permanently established; but, though she well-nigh attained the age of 100 years, that happiness was not vouchsafed to her. Her successor the late Colonel Leslie, cherished the same hope and desire, and left a legacy of £200 for the purpose; and the present owner has put on record his good intentions, as soon as the trust settlements will allow him freedom of action.
Amble Lodge Fremasons Medal A silver, gilt and enamel Amble Freemasons' Lodge founding member's jewel. The design shows an historical interpretation of the view north east across the river, from a position approximate to the current Catholic church. A monk with staff is depicted in the foreground, next to the manor house ruin. A sailing ship is shown on the river in the background, with the north shore in the distance.





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