Friday, 28 August 2009

Hexham /Heagostealdes: Place in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Series ****



Hexham (pronounced /ˈhɛksəm/ (HEKS-əm)) is a market town in Northumberland, England, located south of the River Tyne, and was the administrative centre for the Tynedale district in Northumberland from 1974–2009. Hexham is one of three major towns in Tynedale along with Prudhoe and Haltwhistle, although in terms of population, Prudhoe is Tynedale's largest town. In 2001 Hexham had a population of 11,139.


Corbridge


There are many smaller towns and villages that surround Hexham, such as Corbridge, Riding Mill, Stocksfield, Wylam to the east, Acomb and Bellingham to the north, Allendale to the south and Haydon Bridge, Bardon Mill and Haltwhistle to the west.


Bardon Mill










Wylam








The Burn at Haltwhistle


The closest major city to Hexham is Newcastle upon Tyne which is about 25 miles (40 km) to the east.



Newcastle upon Tyne Bridge




History
Hexham Abbey originated as a monastery founded by Saint Wilfrid in 674. The crypt of the original monastery survives, and incorporates many stones taken from nearby Roman ruins, probably Coria or Hadrian's Wall. The current Hexham Abbey dates largely from the 11th century onward, but was significantly rebuilt in the 19th century. Other notable buildings in the town include the Moot Hall, the covered market, and the Old Gaol.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records the murder of King Ælfwald by Sicga at Scythlecester (which may be modern Chesters) on 23 September 788:
This year Elwald, king of the Northumbrians, was slain by Siga, on the eleventh day before the calends of October; and a heavenly light was often seen on the spot where he was slain. He was buried in the church of Hexham.

Etymology
The name of Hexham derives from the Old English Hagustaldes ea and later Hagustaldes ham whence the modern form (with the "-ham" element) derives. Hagustald is related to the Old High German hagustalt, denoting a younger son who takes land outside the settlement, the element ea means "stream" or "river" and ham is the Old English form of the Modern English "home" (as well as the Scots and Northern English "hame").

Northern Wars and Raids
Like many towns in the North of England, Hexham suffered from the border wars with the Scots, including attacks from William Wallace who burnt the town in 1297. In 1312, Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, demanded and received £2000 from the town and monastery in order for them to be spared a similar fate.
In 1464 during the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Hexham was fought somewhere to the south of the town; the actual site is disputed. The defeated Lancastrian commander Duke of Somerset was executed in Hexham market place. There is a legend that Queen Margaret of Anjou took refuge after the battle in what is known as The Queen's Cave where she was accosted by a robber; the legend forming the basis for an 18th century play by George Colman. Sadly, it has been established that Queen Margaret had fled to France by the time the battle took place!




St. Mary's Church, Hexham. Photo credit: Peter Brooks



Until 1572, Hexham was the administrative centre of the former Liberty or Peculiar of Hexhamshire.
In 1715 James Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater, raised the standard for James Francis Edward Stuart in Hexham Market place. The rising, however, was unsuccessful, and Derwentwater was captured and beheaded after the battle of Preston.
In 1761, the Hexham Riot took place in the Market Place when a crowd protesting about changes in the criteria for serving in the militia was fired upon by troops from North Yorkshire Militia. Fifty-one protesters were killed, earning the Militia the soubriquet of The Hexham Butchers.
Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Hexham was a centre of the leather trade, particularly renowned for making gloves known as Hexham Tans - now the name of a vegetarian restaurant in the town.


Notable buildings
Hexham is dominated by Hexham Abbey. The current church largely dates from c.1170–1250, in the Early English Gothic style of architecture. The choir, north and south transepts and the cloisters, where canons studied and meditated, date from this period. The east end was rebuilt in 1860.
There has been a church on this site over for 1300 years since Queen Etheldreda made a grant of lands to Wilfrid, Bishop of York c.674. Of Wilfrid’s Benedictine abbey, the Saxon crypt and apse still remain. In Norman times Wilfrid’s abbey was replaced by an Augustinian priory: the church you see today is mainly that building of about 1170-1250, in the Early English style of architecture. The choir, north and south transepts and the cloisters, where canons studied and meditated, date from this period. The east end was rebuilt in 1860 and the nave, whose walls incorporate some of the earlier church, was built in 1908. In 1996 an additional chapel was created at the east end of the north choir aisle. Named ‘St Wilfrid’s Chapel’, it offers a place for prayer or quiet reflection. Since the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1537 the Abbey has been the parish church of Hexham and today is still a centre for worship and witness to the Christian faith.
The Abbey stands at the west end of the market place, which is home to the Shambles a Grade II* covered market built in 1766 by Sir Walter Blackett.

At the east end of the market place stands the Moot Hall, a c15 gatehouse that was part of the defences of the town. The Moot Hall is a Grade I listed building, and was used as a courthouse until 1838. The Moot Hall now houses the Council offices of the Museums Department, though not open to the public any relevant enquiries can be made on the first floor. The ground floor is an art gallery open to hire.
The Old Gaol, behind the Moot Hall on Hallgates, was one of the first purpose built jails in England. It was built between 1330-3 and is a Grade I listed Scheduled Monument. It was ordered to be built by the Archbishop of York. The building is now home to the Old Gaol museum which informs the visitor about the how the prisoners were kept at this time and how they were punished. There is also information concerning the local families of time, such as the Charlton and Fenwick families who still have descendants living in the area. There are many different displays in the museum of interest to the whole family. The museum also contains the Border History Library, where people are free to visit to research their family history.

Economy
Hexham had been long famous for its manufacture of leather. Wright (1823) gives some statistics — 77 men & boys employed as Leather dressers and Glove-cutters, 40 boys employed as Dusters and 1,111 women employed as Sewers. Skins dressed annually were 80,000, and 18,000 skins of dressed leather were imported. From these were made and exported annually 23,504 dozens of pairs of gloves. Dutch Oker was used in the processing, but local fell clay could be used if necessary. Tanning was a necessary allied industry and there were four tanneries, employing a score of men. In a year they dealt with 5,000 hides and 12,000 calf skins. They supplied local saddlers, bootmakers and cobblers. Hexham also had 16 master hatters, and the trade employed 40 persons. There were two woollen manufactories, worked by steam power and two rope manufactories. There were corn water mills below the bridge. A windmill on the Seal was ruinous, but there was one still working on Tyne Green. It was, and still is a flourishing market, including a mart for cattle and other farm animals.
In Hexham the Subskimmer was designed and made by Submarine Products. The town is also the site of a chipboard factory owned by the Austrian firm Egger Retail Products GmbH.

No comments:

Post a Comment