Chapter 2


The links between the landowners and the Church were very strong and the holders of Thornley Hall were closely concerned with the parish church of KelloeAlong with Coxhoe, Quarrington, Cassop, Tursdale, Wheatley Hill, Wingate, Deaf Hill, Greenhills, and Hurworth.  Thornley belonged to the Parish of St. Helen Kelloe.


The benefice was originally a rectory but Bishop Pudsey 1153-1195, desiring to secure an adequate endowment for the Leper’s Hospital at nearby Sherburn transferred the great Tithes of the parish to Sherburn.   For many years the brethren were patrons of the living.


The power they held as patrons of Kelloe was however often disputed.  In 1339 an inquisition was held in the Church and evidence taken relative to the appointment of the vicar, the Bishop of Durham disputing the rights of patronage of Sherburn House.  An earlier vicar had never visited his parish “forasmuch as he died in the service of the said Lord Anthony Beck - (Bishop 1283-1311) beyond the sea”.  It is probable that this vicar had a share in Bishop Beck’s many expeditions to Scotland against John Balliol, who was contending for the throne with Robert Bruce.


In Bishop Kellaw’s register some references are made to Kelloe vicars.  In 1312, the vicar of Kelloe took part in an Inquisition held in St. Nicholas’ Church, Durham respecting Edward II’s presentation of William de Aremynane to the Church of Witeberne (Whitburn).


About this time many vicars were refusing to pay the voluntary tax to the Pope known as Peter’s Pence.  Thomas of Canterbury, vicar of Kelloe, was one of the resisters and in 1314, he was excommunicated for not having paid his 22 pence.  He was an early rebel but finding the pressure of excommunication too great to be borne, he paid his oblis and received absolution from Bishop Kellaw.


The treasure of the Church is a Cross, one of the best pieces of medieval sculpture in the county, which was found imbedded in the chancel wall in 1858.  The cross head are aros are shaped like the high hats of Eastern Orthodox priests.   The shaft has three tiers of figurework.  Above, the announcement to the Empress Helena, the scene in which it was revealed to her where she would find the Holy Cross, then two standing figures, St. Helena with the Cross and another, and then the Empress with a drawn sword menacing Judas (with a spade) to make him tell her exactly where to dig for the Cross.  The Cross dates from the end of the twelfth century.


Thornley Hall continued in the Harpyn family until Katherine Harpyn married Thomas de Lumley.  The Lumley’s, in the fourteenth century, acquired several parcels of land originally belonging to their neighbours, the Kellaws.  One of the conditions of sale was that they should maintain a perpetual chauntry of three Chaplains for the “purpose of daily celebrating mass for the good estate of John and Elizabeth Kellaw and for the souls of the parishioners of Kellaw.

The endowment was ten pounds and was the origin of the rights that the Lords of Thornlaw afterwards held in the North Chapel or Thornlaw Porch of Kelloe Church.


The Lumley’s occupied Thornley Hall during the time of the Peasants’ Revolt and probably they did not escape the unrest of the time.  Unrest in this area may have been aggravated by the fact that the Bishop’s Forest preserved for hunting the deer from early times abutted on the parish of Kelloe, extending from Cassop almost to Durham.


An interesting sidelight on the peasants’ unsettlement is given in a statute of artifers, labourers, servants etc. who keep for their own use harriers and other dogs, and on feast days, when good Christians are at Church hearing Divine Service, get into the parks and warrens of the lords and destroy the game.  Much more they profit by these occasions when they meet together armed, without fear of being disturbed, to hold their assemblies conversations and conspiracies to rise against and disobey their allegiance”.






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