Blencowe Families’ Association Newsletter Vol. 18 No. 2 June 2003

Christopher Blencowe,
Vicar of Edenhall

Some unusually fine and dry spring weather tempted us to spend a week in the Lake District. In the wettest part of England, we not only enjoyed unbroken sunshine but the daffodils made famous by Wordsworth’s poem were at their very best.

I set out to find the church at Edenhall where Christopher Blencowe became Vicar in 1535. The little village lies in lush farmland between the mountains of the Lake District and the Pennines, its church was nowhere to be seen! The village street was empty; I went to a good-sized hotel to ask: its dining room tables were set out for a large lunch party but the staff had apparently all sailed away on the Marie Celeste! Eventually I found a broken sign pointing “To the ...urch” and, half a mile down a narrow lane, there it was standing alone in the middle of a field. One end of the churchyard was knee-deep in daffodils and as I walked through them a cock pheasant ‘exploded’ from beneath my feet.

The list of Rectors and Vicars showed Christopher’s name and date along with that of the earliest incumbent dated 1203. The romanesque door of the church suggests that the building may well be as old as that. It was strange to stand there and remember that Christopher had played a small part in the Pilgrimage of Grace and that I have actually handled the books he left to the Queen’s College in Oxford.

The church is clearly in regular use but why is it located out in the middle of nowhere? Had Edenhall been a ‘plague village’ where the residents all died and a new village sprang up nearby, or had the local landowner decided he didn’t like the look of the place, knocked it down, and built a new village for his tenants? Maybe some of our northern members can do a little research and tell us about it.

When Christopher died in 1665 he left three children: John, Elizabeth and Hugh, all under age. Nothing certain is known of their fate, but Hugh may have died at Storrington, way down south in Sussex, in 1609 and perhaps his son (another Hugh) Hugh was the ancestor of Christopher Blencowe, pictured with his mother Loretta in our newsletter of Winter of 2001, whose forebears farmed nearby.

updated: 6 February 2009