St. Michael’s & All Angels Church, Howick
The church belongs to the Church of England and is an attractive early Victorian building which stands in a pleasant, informal churchyard within the grounds of Howick Hall. Howick is an old parish with its first recorded priest in 1158 who was called Asket, but the original Norman chapel predated him. Two fires destroyed previous churches erected on the site including a curious Ionic temple in mid-18th Century. The current church was built in 1849 in a Romanesque style and is an extension of the previous one.
The church and its graveyard contain a number of memorials to members of the Grey family, of which the most important is the tomb of the Prime Minister, 2nd Earl Grey, which is inside on the south wall opposite the pulpit. This used to have a Gothic marble canopy added later in the 19th Century, which Charles, 5th Earl Grey, disliked so much that he personally took a hammer and chisel to it and destroyed it.
The small stone gargoyles on the exterior of the north wall were all carved by Maria, 3rd Countess Grey, who was a good amateur artist, but sadly she never got round to doing the south side. The paintings behind the font and altar were commissioned by Mabel, 5th Countess Grey, in the 1950’s, and are regarded with mixed feelings.
The parish of Howick united with Longhoughton and Boulmer in 1928, then Alnmouth and Lesbury in 1998. The church’s prime asset is its tranquillity and peacefulness being situated in the grounds of Howick Hall Garden. This is much appreciated by garden visitors, offering them an opportunity for spiritual reflection, receiving around 20,000 visitors annually . The church celebrates a Eucharist service on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month at 11.15am. All visitors are most welcome and you will also find:
- THE MARBLE TOMB of 2nd Earl Grey, Prime Minister in the early 1830s.
- THE HOWICK KNEELER PROJECT – a display of about 90 tapestry kneelers depicting the history and flora and fauna of Howick, with the pictures drawn by local artists and sewn by local stitchers.
- AN EXHIBITION ABOUT LADY SYBIL GREY – daughter of Albert 4th Earl Grey who helped set up and run the First World War Hospital at Howick Hall. She also travelled to Russia to establish a British Hospital there, met the Tsarina, was wounded at the front, sheltered the assassin of Rasputin and witnessed the Russian Revolution in 1917.