The small church of St Andrew stands in a lonely position high up on a windswept hill. Although a simple building, the interior has great charm as it still has all the fittings added in 1769 when the church was rebuilt. The mausoleum is far grander than the church. The upper part of this bizarre structure is embellished with obelisks, shields, scrollwork and statues in shell-headed niches with, to top it all, an undulating stepped stone roof crowned with a lantern. To the front low stone walls capped with iron railings enclose a flight of steps leading down to the basement level. Here, under an arch, are two weathered stone figures, lying on a tomb slab.
Grade I (England and Wales)
The inscription on the mausoleum says it was “Erected by Humfrey Hopper of Black Hedley, in memory of his wife Jane Hodgson, who died February 29th, 1752, aged 77.” The plaque dates from the 19th century and this, combined with the untutored classical style of the architecture, has sometimes led historians to suggest that the monument was actually built in the 17th century by an earlier Humfrey Hopper, the grandfather of the one mentioned on the plaque. But as the Hoppers were little more than peasant farmers at that date this does not seem likely. Furthermore, the style of the monument is similar to that of other building projects undertaken by Humfrey Hopper in the 18th century, and, when Archdeacon Singleton visited Shotley Church in 1828, he confirmed the date of the monument as 1752.
By the mid 20th century both church and mausoleum were in poor condition owing to subsidence caused by mining in the area. Fortunately, in 1973, the buildings were taken into the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. After this repairs were carried out and the piers and railings in front of the mausoleum were re-instated.
Fairly good but, owing to the exposed site, more stone conservation is now required. The mausoleum also suffers from recurring theft and vandalism (2004).
BoE: Northumberland (1992), 292;
H Colvin, Architecture and the After-Life (1991) 353, fig.336;
MMT News, 10 (2004).
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Churchyard of St Andrew,
Kiln Pit Hill
2004 MMT News November
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