John Stowell

Holy Trinity Church
Washington Village

Guide and Historian
John Stowell: church guide and historian
John Stowell was church guide and historian at the Holy Trinity Church, Washington
Village, Tyne and Wear, for twelve years. In the photo he is pictured in the grounds of the
Washington Old Hall, the ancestral home of George Washington, the First President of
the United States of America. The Old Hall is built into the south side of the hill upon
which the Village Church stands. Hence the local name for the Holy Trinity Church
... the Church on the Hill.

In the background of this photo is Washington House, locally known as Dame Margaret's
Home, built in 1854. This was the home of Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell. Gertrude Bell, of
Lawrence of Arabia fame, was his grand-daughter.

The bird bath to John's left was featured in one of Martha Grimes' novels, "Jerusalem

There are always cats to be seen around the Old hall, and there was one curled up asleep
inside when Martha Grimes visited.
*** All photographs are courtesy of and copyright of John Stowell ***
John took this photo of the Washington Village Church one Sunday morning just before
the service. It captures the hill upon which the church sits, beautifully. Some old
gravestones, covered in green moss, can also be seen. Many old churches in Britain and
Europe are built on Celtic sites, often on hills, and this was no exception.

John will now take us on a tour
of the inside of the church.
The Holy Trinity Church, Washington Village.
Locally known as "The Church on the Hill"
it was opened in May 1833.
The Memorial Windows above the altar.
As you enter the church your eyes are immediately attracted to the colourful 1914-18
Memorial Windows above the altar.
The figures on the left hand side window include:
St. Oswald: First Saxon King of Northumbria
St. Alban: a Roman soldier, and the first British Saint
Simon de Mountford: he led the Barons against Henry III
Philip Sydney: a soldier poet in the service of Elizabeth I
General Gordon: killed in the Siege of Khartoum
Florence Nightingale: the Lady of the Lamp
The figures on the right hand side window include:
St. Alban, Sir Henry lawrence, Sir Humphrey Gilbert,
Admiral Collingwood and Nurse Edith Cavell
The 12th century Font in the George Washington Corner
Now looking to your right as you enter the church you will see the George Washington
Corner. His early ancestors would have been baptized at this same 12th Century Font in
the old Anglo Saxon Church. When the old church was pulled down the font was thrown
out. Years later it was found being used as a cattle trough, and was restored to the church
by Julius Shadwell, the rector, in 1865.

The picture of George Washington was presented to the Church
by Frederick Hill in 1932.

The tombs of the de Wessington Family were also lost when the old church was pulled
down. The vaults must have been caving in, as the walls were out of line and considered
dangerous. Pillars were going to be put in, but this wasn't thought to be worth while. When
the old church was pulled down, it is assumed that some of the rubble was used to fill in
the vaults. Old flagstones and tomb covers for the vaults were used to flag the nave.
Alexander de Biddick
This 13th century efigy, now fixed to one of the church walls, is of a priest and is inscribed
" Hic iacet Alexander de Biddick".
The de Biddicks were a family branch of the Barons de Hylton, whose castle lies only
about three miles away from Washington Village.
The grave cover lay in the church yard for several hundred years before it disappeared.
Eventually it was rediscovered when the old rectory building was demolished in 1962.
The efigy was found, face down, serving as a window sill.
The Commemorative Plaque for Bryan and Thomas Broughton.
They were sons of the Reverend Bryan Sneyd Broughton, Rector of Washington.
Audrey Fletcher was able to help me out with further details concerning the tragic drownings of
Bryan and Thomas Broughton
in New Zealand.

I am pleased to be able to help you with your query about the Broughton brothers.
However my information about Bryan, the elder brother who drowned in New Zealand
waters, is slightly different to what you suggested in that he was drowned in 1862, (not
1838) only one year before his brother Thomas. It sounds like it was a bit of a local
boating accident in squawly weather. Thomas would probably have heard about his older
brother's death when he was in port at
Sydney Harbour in January 1863.

Here is the information I have about the two brothers:

On April 21st 1862, Bryan Sneyd Herbert Broughton aged 24, was drowned in a heavy
squall between Picton and Omahau Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand.
He was the second son of the late Rev Bryan Sneyd Broughton, Rector of Washington, in
the County of Durham.

HMS Orpheus was a war ship, which was built at Chatham Dockyard and commissioned
in 1861. Captained by William Farquharson Burnett the warship sailed for Sydney and
then on to New Zealand to help in the fight against the Maoris in the Second Maori War.
It is possible that Thomas Broughton heard of his older brother’s death while he was
in Sydney. One week after setting sail from Sydney, the Orpheus was on its approach into
Manukau Harbour. It was February 7th 1863 and a clear morning. Unfortunately
however, the ship’s charts were outdated and semaphore signals from the shore were
not heeded. Frederick Butler, who was on board the Orpheus under arrest for desertion,
prompted a change of course, but his intervention came too late.
The warship floundered in the treacherous waters.
Only 69 men, of a crew of 258, survived.
Thomas Henry Broughton, son of a former rector of Holy Trinity Church, Washington
Village, was drowned in the disaster on the 7th February 1863. He was born in
Washington about 1845, and was a midshipman in the Royal Navy. He was only 18 years
old when he died.
Coat of Arms recorded in glass windows
On the left can be seen the Coat of Arms of the Washington Family, from which it is
believed that the "Stars and Stripes" of the
American Flag are derived. It was presented by
Washington Family Descendents in the USA, in 1961.
On the right is the crest of the Washington Development Corporation, derived from the
heraldry of the de Wessington Family. It was presented in 1980.
The organ, which looks not unlike a throne, was restored in
Coats of Arms recorded on the Choir Stalls 1937-1939
The Coats of Arms displayed on the Choir Stalls are those of
former Rectors of the Holy Trinity Church.

William Delamarche 1291
Christopher Barnes 1534
Henry Ewbank 1583
george Talbot 1728
Wadham Chandler 1733
Henry Bland 1735
Charles Egerton 1786
More Coats of Arms recorded on the Choir Stalls
The Coats of Arms displayed on these Choir Stalls are also
those of former Rectors of the Holy Trinity Church.

Henry Percival 1826
Sneyd Broughton 1837
The Hon. Lewis Denham 1848
Edward Gambier Pym 1861
Julius Shadwell 1865
R F Molesworth 1875
John Lomax 1897
Coats of Arms of the Lawson, Musgrave and Shaftoe Families.
In the late 17th and early 18th Centuries, Washington
was divided up among these families.
However they held The Old Hall in joint ownership.
Coats of Arms of Bell and Newall Industrialists
Coat of Arms of the Washington Family on the left
I hope that you have enjoyed your tour around the Holy Trinity Church at Washington
Village, and that you have gained a lot of knowledge and insight from the experience.

Please call again.

John Stowell
Web page designed by Audrey Fletcher 2007

Updated 2015
John Stowell and his wife Joyce
Sadly, John Stowell died on 17th January 2013.
He is greatly missed by his family.