St Michael’s embodies an architectural history typical of the English parish church: Anglo-Saxon foundations; a Norman nave, tower and chancel; aisles of the 13th century; and sensitive reworking at the end of the 19th century. It blends together remarkably well. Balancing the nave and chancel, the pre-Conquest unbuttressed tower has three stages with an embattled top and gargoyles, and twin louvred openings in the top stage. Carved Tudor poppyheads grace the chancel stalls, the rare pre-Reformation oak pulpit has six linenfold panels and an inscribed prayer, and at the base of the tower are a 14th-century octagonal font, a cross slab (grave cover) with sword and two worn 13th-century female effigies. The church’s situation on the green has been much admired and is mentioned in The Anatomy of the Village, written in 1946 by Thomas Wilfrid Sharp.
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Discover County Durham
County Durham reaches halfway across England, from the North Pennines in the west, to the sea in the east. Much of it is very sparsely inhabited, and is naturally beautiful; a mix of rolling hills, monumental valleys, lush farmland and unforgiving moors. It’s strong on industrial heritage as well, and remnants of the now all-but-vanished mining industry are everywhere.
The City of Durham has a magnificent Cathedral which can be traced back to the establishment of a church in the 10thcentury as the final resting place of the miraculous remains of Saint Cuthbert. The Cathedral, alongside the city’s Castle (an 11th-century structure that now houses University College), were created a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. The area’s mining past is fully documented at the Durham Mining Museum; an amazing resource. Bishop Auckland is the other major settlement, and for centuries was run almost as an independent state by the powerful Bishops of Durham. These days it is still a bustling town with plenty of shops, historical interest and events like the annual food festival. The coastal town of Peterlee is unusual; it was set up as a new town to house Durham miners after WW2.
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