Heart of Lanchester Cottage & Yew Tree Cottage

Chatton Cottages

Self-Catering Holiday Cottages in Durham & Northumberland
 07770 253586

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A Colourful Churchman and a Ghostly Tightrope Walker

23rd May, 2017

A Colourful Churchman and a Ghostly Tightrope Walker

In 1237 Thomas Melsonby was elected Bishop by the monks of Durham. However his appointment was blocked by King Henry III. The king maintained that Melsonby was unfit for office and accused him of “breaking his vows, being an infringer of the liberties of the church, being diseased in body, and being guilty of the misuse of church funds and selling church favours”. The king also alleged that Melsonby was born out of wedlock and to cap it all he was guilty of murder.

This referred to an incident when Melsonby had arranged for a tightrope walker to exhibit his skills 'upon a chord, suspended from two towers of the church and from a height he fell and broke his neck'. The unfortunate man was buried near the north door of the cathedral. It is said by some that the fateful fall is re-enacted in ghostly fashion. A sudden crash is heard as the man's body hits the roof of the building. Then can be heard his slow, inexorable slide down towards his ultimate doom, faint cries of agony mingle with the dreadful sound of his fingernails desperately scratching, frantically feeling but failing to find some saving handhold. Then there is a sudden silence as the body makes its final fall to the churchyard below.

The much-eroded stone ( pictured above) covering the tightrope walkers grave can still be seen today although there is some dispute over exactly who is buried there.

For more information on Durham Cathedral go to their website.

Sheila Bull with reference to 'The A-Z of Curious County Durham' by Martin Dufferwell.


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We welcome any enquiry you have about our wonderful self-catering holiday cottages. You can book our cottage via our website or contact us with any questions about our cottage facilities, late holiday availability or to find out what is on in the Northumberland region.

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Telephone: 07770253586
Email: info@chattoncottages.co.uk


Holiday Cottage - Sleeps 3 - High Quality Holiday Accommodation.

Heart of Lanchester Cottage, 7 Church View, Lanchester, County Durham, DH7 0ES

tel: 07770 253586

Beautiful Northumbria Holiday Cottage.

Yew Tree Cottage, Broomhaugh, Riding Mill, Northumberland, NE44 6EG

tel: 01207 232387

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