Nomads broke with tradition to settle there and a Prime Minister couldn’t tear himself away. David Whetstone on a book detailing the charms of Howick.
SOME people write books for fame, some for fortune. Others have a story inside them that just wants out. For Avril Meakin, who lives in the Northumberland village of Howick, there were other motives – a chilly church being one of them.
As church warden of St Michael and All Angels, the parish church on the Howick estate, Avril initiated a campaign to have heating installed. The work was to cost £37,000 and the bulk of it was raised in a remarkably short time for a small community.
But, as so often happens, one final push was needed to get the fund-raising campaign over the line so a small but faithful congregation could worship in comfort.
Avril, who has retired as church warden, explains that for a few years she wrote articles for the parish magazine, The Bridge, recording village events and also highlighting interesting moments in local history (no mean feat since Avril says there are 10,000 years of it).
“I thought, why not pull them all together and publish them as a book and sell it? That’s what happened. But I did add quite a few extra stories and people also wrote me some stories so it’s more than just the parish magazine collection.”
Avril was inspired, she says, by a Victorian annual, a beautifully bound collection of the year’s parish magazines, popular in the 1880s.
It’s actually quite a handsome volume with glossy pages and lots of photos. It was published by the Howick Heritage Group with the support of organisations, including Northumberland County Council.
There’s a foreword by Charlie Howick – actually the second Lord Howick of Glendale – who, with his wife Clare, Lady Howick, lives at the heart of the village in the west wing of Howick Hall, ancestral home of the Grey family since the early 1300s.
This is the strongest link between Howick and the heart of Tyneside since a statue of the second Earl Grey, Prime Minister from 1830 and champion of the Great Reform Bill of 1832, looks down on the busy streets of Newcastle from the monument at the top of Grey Street.
Earl Grey, we learn, couldn’t bear to tear himself away from Howick which caused consternation in London. “No good can be done unless you come to town,” said one exasperated colleague.