West Boldon is an ancient village situated on
the A184 between Newcastle and Sunderland and dominated by a picturesque
church dedicated to St Nicholas. Legend has it that in the 8th C
the Venerable Bede sent monks from his monastery in Jarrow with
orders to build a church on the river Don. They chose a high rocky
hill (or Bol) commanding fine views of the river and surrounding
countryside as the site for their first mud and wattle building.
Today a venerable and interesting 13thC edifice
occupies the same site and can be seen from many miles around.
The spire and towers are alleged to be orginal but as the base
of the tower seems older than its superstructure they were probably
added later. The first Rector of Boldon listed in church records
was called William. He was succeeded by Alverd in the time of
Bishop Galfrid Rufus, 1133-40, so it seems certain that the 13thC
building replaced an earlier structure.
The Benedictine theologian and writer known as
Uhtred of Boldon was born there in about 1315. He joined the Benedictines
of Durham Abbey around 1332 and was sent to London in 1337. In
1367 he became prior of Finchale Abbey, a position to which he
was appointed three other times, in 1379, 1386, and 1392. Uhtred
died at Finchale Abbey on the 24th of January 1396 after a lifetime
of service to his church, king and country.
During the Second World War with his father overseas
and his mother working full time Ian spent most of his pre-school
childhood in the care of his grandparents George and Emily Riches.
They worked for the church as sextant and cleaner respectively.
While they were attending to their duties the church and churchyard
was Ian's playground. One day Ian's mother caught him racing his
home made kiddy car up and down the nave. She started telling
him off for being disrespectful when her father, Ian's grandfather,
overheard and said, "Leave the bairn alone. If he can't play
in his father's house, where can he play?". And she started
May God Keep You In His Loving Hands