Concerts to mark 750 years of link between church and college

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A series of concerts will take place to mark the 750th anniversary of the connection between a Ponteland church and an Oxford college.

The association between St Mary’s Church and Merton College dates back to 1268, and to mark the link a number of music and dance events will be held.

Views of Ponteland.'St Mary's Church

Views of Ponteland.'St Mary's Church

Tomorrow (Friday) the Merton College Girls’ Choir will be performing at St Mary’s at 7pm.

On Saturday, September 8 the Eliot Smith Dance Company will present Divine Dance at the church.

And on Saturday, September 15, there will be a night of music with Take Four, who will present vocal and instrumental pieces from Mozart to Broadway, with solos, duos and trios. The concert takes place at Holy Saviour, Milbourne, at 2.30pm.

Completing the series will be a final concert from Ponteland Ladies’ Choir on Saturday, September 22, at St Mary’s, at 7.30pm.

Space by Eliot Smith Dance Company

Space by Eliot Smith Dance Company

The link between St Mary’s and Merton College goes back to Peter de Montford, who is thought to have occupied Ponteland Castle on the site of the present Blackbird Inn.

In 1262 he was seeking to acquire land and property in Ponteland and made a bargain with Roger Bertram III, Lord of Ponteland, who was living in Mitford.

He acquired ‘two bovates’ (around 40 acres) of land adjoining the churchyard and the right to appoint the vicar of the church, in return for a sparrowhawk, two oxgangs (around 30 acres) and a ‘dwelling with land’.

However, in 1264-65 de Montford was involved in the ‘Barons’ War’ against King Henry III. This failed and penalties were exacted by Walter de Merton, the Chancellor to Henry III, who was in the process of founding a college for the education of priests in Oxford.

Thus Peter de Montford was obliged, on March 24, 1267, to make over all his property “to be converted for the said uses of the Scholars and Brethren (of Merton College) for their increase in number, without let or hindrance from me or my heirs”.

Great tithes on corn went to Merton whilst the vicar claimed small tithes, including Easter offerings and the grass in the churchyard.

Since then, Merton College has held patronage of the church and has also been rector, with the duty of maintaining the chancel.

The college paid for the restoration of the chancel in 1885 and contributed towards the rebuilding of the church hall in the 1990s.

To find out more about the concerts visit www.pontelandstmary.co.uk or email 750thevents@gmail.com