Christian History Of The Region

Christianity is believed to have come to this part of Britain prior to c 516 ad.  The three caves cut in into the old rock above the River Eden at Wetheral are said to have been the hermitage of St. Constantine who died in 516 ad. St. Ninian is recorded as visiting these part of the north country in the mid 54th Century, and St. Kentigern ( or Mungo) prior to 612 ad

In c1088 ruing the reign of King Rufus, on of his baron Ranulf Meschin gave the church of Wetheral, or Wadherall, and the chapel at Warwick to the Benedictine monks when the abbey was founded as a dependency of the Abbey of St. Mary of York, at Wetheral.  Twelve monks served Wetheral Church , Warwick chapel and the domestic chapel at Corby Castle.  In these rough and troublesome times of Border warfare, the monks would be responsible for religion, hospitality, education and medicine, also agriculture There must have been some eminent men amongst them, because, of the thirty eight Priors, six were elected to be Abbots of York and one to the Prior of Durham.  One item of interest in the records of this time tells of one William Odard who had built a chapel within his domain of Corby, and permission was granted for the celebration of Mass twice a week in the  chapel.   This was to be for the use of  William and his family, guests and domestic only.  On festival days however the family must attend Mass at the church at Wetheral with their offerings.  If severe weather hindered them from  crossing the Eden  by ferry it was shown that they would have to send the Prior the sum of at least 13 pence ( denarios)  as their offering.  This chapel was pulled down in later years but traces of it are still to be seen on some old prints of Corby.

 

During the 16th Century, Wetheral Priory along with the other religious houses, was suppressed, and the unity of the Christian faith was broken.  Doubtless some of the religious men remained in the district after  the  Suppression of the Priory and during the reign of Elizabeth I, but there is no known record of them.