The Old Water Stoup

DSC00732 Stoop-1

The oldest object in the church is the old water stoup. It consists of a roughly shaped stone bowl fixed to a circular stone column. Shaped on one side it sits against the west wall of the church at the end of the south aisle. At one time it stood near to the chancel arch before the present pulpit was installed.

Paulinus traditionally made a great effort between 625 and 632 to convert the inhabitants of Haltwhistle and the surrounding countryside. As the oldest object that the church possesses it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that he used the stoup as a font. Legend has it that King Edwin of Northumbria was baptised by Paulinus at Walltown, some four miles from Haltwhistle. A spring close to Hadrian’s Wall is called ‘The King’s Well’.

It has been suggested that the stoup is an adapted Roman altar. There are other examples in the North of England of such adaptations.

Whatever the origins of the water stoup it is a happy accident that it has survived giving us today a possible link to the early Christian worshippers in Haltwhistle.

© Holy Cross Church Haltwhistle 2013