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Hexham Abbey

Banners in the Nave 



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In the north nave aisle of Hexham Abbey hangs an impressive range of historic banners. Most were relocated from the choir in 1987.
The banner that first attracts attention is the most easterly, the Hawick Banner. In 1514, the year after Flodden, Lord Dacre (Bailiff of Hexham and March Warden) led a band of raiders that included Hexham men into Scotland. The Priory flag was captured by the Hawick Callants, the youths who alone were left to defend the town. It was appropriated as the Hawick Flag, with the initials H C and the vertical line. The banner, carried annually in the 'Common Riding of the Marchesí, and a statue of a horseman in Hawick High Street, are permanent reminders of the skirmish.

At the consecration of the nave in 1908 Hawick lent a copy of the banner to be carried in procession, and by 1914, the 400th anniversary of its capture, Hawick had presented the Abbey with a replica. In 1972 the Provost of Hawick gave a new flag to the people of Hexham as a token of the friendship established between the two communities. The Rector then returned the 1914 flag to replace the original banner, which had long since disintegrated.

At the far end of the aisle are the standards of the British Legion. In a wall-case, that of Hexham Branch dates from its formation in the 1920s. Long kept in the War Memorial hospital, it was laid up in the Abbey in 1995. Three more banners hang from the nearby pier: The Hexham Branch Banner of the Women's Section was laid up when the Section was disbanded about 1989. The Hexham Branch Banner was laid up in 2000 when failing membership closed the branch. The Northern Areas, Northumberland County Banner was laid up in 1975 when a new standard was dedicated. The stained-glass window nearby, by S.M. Scott, was dedicated on Remembrance Day 1972 to commemorate the granting of the title 'Royal' on the 50th anniversary of the British Legion in 1971.

The next four banners are military colours. At the formation of each battalion a Ďpair of coloursí is consecrated and presented the Sovereignís Colour, emblem of loyalty and patriotism, and the Regimental Colour, symbol of local loyalty and self-sacrifice. Both bear battle honours. When superseded the old colours had to be deposited in a church.

The Scots Guards Colours were presented to the 2nd Battalion by Edward VII in 1903. Col. Gerald Cuthbert of Beaufront, as colonel of the regiment, chose Hexham Abbey as their resting piece, 'where he had worshipped as boy and his father before himí. For the reception of the colours in 1912 more than 2,000 people were present.

The Kingís Colour shows the Union Badge (rose, thistle and shamrock) above UNITA FORTIOR (Stronger in unity), EGYPT, then a sphinx, all surmounted by the Imperial Crown, with a small Union Flag in the dexter canton.

The Regimental Colour bears the Union Flag, the crest (a chevalier) and motto SI JE PUIS (If I can), of Lord Linlithgow, who raised the battalion, above SI POSSIM (If I could), XVIII, EGYPT and a sphinx.

The colours on the next pier are those of the 4th Battalion the Northumberland Fusiliers, presented in 1920. In the Regimental Colour the central panel, below a crown, shows THE NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILIERS round St George, the regimentís patron saint, in a wreath of roses, shamrock and thistles. Below is a garland of red and white ribbon; this is the only regiment allowed red tips to their plumes Crown, rose and lion statant guardant appear in each corner. The Kingís Colour has the Union Flag with the regimentís name round IV in the centre. The colours were laid up in 1979.

A moth-eaten rag
  on a worm-eaten pole.
It does not look 
  to stir a manís soul.
'Tis the deeds that were done
  'neath the moth-eaten rag,
When the pole was a staff
  and the rag was a flag.

On the next pier is the Garter Standard of Viscount Allendale (1890-1956): on a red field, a white lion rampant, with a gold spur-rowel and eight white crescents, all within the red-and-white fringe of the Order of the Garter. The stall-plate behind the south choir stalls records:
WENTWORTH HENRY CANNING BEAUMONT, SECOND VISCOUNT ALLENDALE, K.G., C.B., C.B.E., M.C., LAY RECTOR OF HEXHAM ABBEY, LORD LIEUTENANT OF NORTHUMBERLAND

Like his ancestors, Allendale was Lord of the Manor of Hexham, though the family has long lived at Bywell Hall. His grandfather (1829-1907), created Baron 1906, rebuilt the east end of the Abbey in 1858; co-operated in the making of Beaumont Street and the Town Halt in 1865; and gave Tyne Green to the town, 1887. His father (1860-1923), 2nd Baron, created Viscount in 1911, presented the Sele to the town in 1908 and sold the Abbey Grounds to Hexham in 1912. The 2nd Viscount was a Lord-in-Waiting and Steward of the Jockey Club. His standard was brought from St Georgeís Chapel, Windsor in 1959.

The banner of Sir Percy Loraine Bt. PC, GCMG (1860-1961) has a black-and-white cross. The red hand, the badge of Ulster, is borne as an augmentation by all baronets. Sir Percy succeeded as 12th Baronet of Kirkharle in 1917, was appointed Ambassador to Turkey, and transferred to Rome in 1939. Though not usually living in the North, he owned and often visited properties near Hexham, induding Styford Manor and Staward Hall. He asked that his GCMG banner be hung in Hexham Abbey when it was removed after his death from the chapel of the Order in St Paulís Cathedral. His hatchment, placed in the nave in 1963, also bears his arms.