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The Friends of Historic Dilston, 2016

Archaeology at DilstonChapel and new GalleryThe Lord's Bridge over DevilswaterThe portrait, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, shows James Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater, with his Countess Anna Maria and son John

2016 Commemoration of the Execution of James Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater

A Solemn Sung Requiem Mass was held at St Mary’s RC Church, Hexham, on 24 February 2016A Solemn Sung Requiem Mass was held at St Mary’s RC Church, Hexham, on 24 February 2016, to commemorate the 300th Anniversary of the execution of James Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater.  The Mass, organised by Friends of Historic Dilston, was attended by some 75 people and was celebrated in the old rite, which the earl himself would have known well.  The portrait of James Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater which was on display at the commemorationThree priests officiated, Frs Michael Brown, David Phillips and Bede Rowe.  Fr Christopher Warren, parish priest was also in the sanctuary.  As an introduction to the Mass, Vice-Chair Dr Leo Gooch gave an account of the earl’s last days in the Tower of London and the execution. At the close of proceedings a wreath of red roses and carnations (red symbolising martyrdom) was laid at the Derwentwater Memorial Cross which stands in the forecourt of the church; after which a collection was taken towards its restoration being led by FoHD.

The Northern Lights

A remarkable coincidence occurred on 6 March 2016, eleven days after the above commemoration, when spectacular displays of the Northern Lights were widely seen across the whole of the country, as had happened 300 years earlier to the day when Lord Derwentwater’s coffin was being conveyed to Dilston for burial in the family chapel. The unusually bright displays of the aurora, which are normally just visible in the far north of Scotland, were featured on the main TV news bulletins and in both the local and national press.

A Personal Commemoration






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Duncan Davis, photographer and long-standing Friend of Historic Dilston, travelled to London to make a personal tribute to the Earl. Starting at the Tower of London, Duncan followed the route taken by Lord Derwentwater to the place of his execution on Tower Hill.   


Duncan’s video of his journey can be viewed to the right. To view the video on a full screen please press the ‘V’ symbol on the bottom right.

Commemorative plaque on Tower Hill, photograph courtesy of Duncan Davis

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