The Memorial Cross was erected in 1874 when five coffins containing the remains of members of the Derwentwater family, were removed from Dilston Chapel and re-interred at St Mary’s. These were: Sir Francis Radcliffe, 1st Earl of Derwentwater, d.1696; Edward Radcliffe, 2nd Earl of Derwentwater, d. 1705; the Hon Francis Radcliffe, d.1704; Lady Mary Radcliffe, d.1724; and Barbara Radcliffe, d.1696. On the same day, 8th October 1874, a sixth coffin containing the remains of James Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater, was removed from Dilston Chapel and taken to Essex for re-interment in the Mortuary Chapel at Thorndon Hall, the residence of a direct descendant William, 12th Lord Petre. An article appearing at the time in the Newcastle Courant records:
‘Lord Petre, the descendant of the Radcliffe family obtained leave to remove the bodies of his ancestors from their family vault at Dilston. The body of the last unhappy Earl was sent by rail to Lord Petre’s residence in the south of England and High Mass celebrated in the Chapel for the occasion. Some excitement was caused in Hexham and the neighbourhood by this unusual occurrence’.
The removal of the six coffins from the Radcliffe Vault in Dilston Chapel had come about when the Dilston estate was purchased by Mr W.B. Beaumont (later created Lord Allendale) having previously, from 1735, been in the ownership of Greenwich Hospital and later transferred to the Lords of the Admiralty.
The Derwentwater Memorial Cross was restored in 2016 with a grant from Sita Trust, the application having been submitted by FoHD.