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Longhorsley: An Introduction

Longhorsley was once a purely rural village, with several working farms and small agricultural holdings, within its boundary. Almost all of the inhabitants were dependant on farming, and its services for a living. Today, within easy travelling distance of Newcastle and the businesses of Tyneside, the village is now a thriving, if mainly dormitory community, with a population of one thousand-five-hundred.

Situated on a ridge just south of the river Coquet, twenty-one miles north of Newcastle and six mile north of Morpeth the village straddles the A697 road. The road used to be the fastest coaching route, and still is a much-used route, to Scotland. There are some excellent walks around the village, which command panoramic views of the Cheviots to the north and the Northumberland coast to the east. Longhorsley Moor, situated on the south side of the village, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest being "The finest example of lowland heath in the North of England". Populated with an abundance of wildlife, access is available by public footpaths.

Linden Hall one mile north of the village was built in 1812 and was once the home of the Lord of the Manor; it is now a prestigious country hotel with its own championship standard golf course. The hotel is a popular retreat for sporting and other celebrities who wish to enjoy the peace and tranquility of its four hundred acre park and woodland grounds.

Longhorsley has a Village Shop, where you can purchase almost anything from a paper to a bread bun, a Butchers Shop, which has been run by the same family for over one hundred years, a Post Office and a Pub. The spiritual needs of the village are served by St Helens Anglican Church, St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Church and The Mission which is un-denominational. There is a Village Hall, which is in the process of replacement, being unable to cope with the demand from the organisations, which wish to use it. WI, Play Groups, Bible Class, Youth Club, Local History Society, Carpet Bowls Club, Scallywags Sunday School, Dances, Keep Fit, Art Club, Embroidery Group, Coffee Mornings and numerous private parties and receptions.

Near to the hall is an all weather pitch - it looks like a swimming pool on the opening photograph and was completed in the Millennium year. The junior football team have recently had changing facilities provided for them, alongside the football pitch on the common.

The local vet has converted the West End Farm, into a haven for exotic animals. Not normally open to the public you can still see many of the birds and animals from the roadside, including wallaby, lama, rhea, peacock and of course Gloria the camel. The visitor may even be given a verbal greeting from Robinson the parrot as he sits on top of the wall.

A five-ton block of Northumbrian whinstone was erected on the village green as part of the millennium celebrations. The block is as quarried and other than engraving "2000AD" it is untouched, look closely and you will see a face. A time capsule has been placed underneath it.

One of the highlights of the Millennium celebrations in Longhorsley was the unveiling of the wall hanging on the 18th November 2000. The hanging took eighteen months to complete and measures over 18 ft wide and is 6ft deep. The design is a triptych in the form of a Parish Map. It is not a topographical accurate portrayal of Longhorsley Parish, but a montage of buildings, activities, and areas, which are familiar to residents. Many working methods were used to produce the hanging, which is a collage of techniques and textures, resulting in a tactile as well as a visual experience. Working methods ranged from embroidery, appliqu‚, cross-stitch, woodwork, silk painting to mat making. The hanging may be seen in the Village Hall, where it is sure to become an increasingly interesting work of art, and history, for many years to come.

The Local History Society millennium project was to photograph every house in the parish with the residents standing outside, together with a brief biography, then to publish the completed project as a record of Longhorsley at the time of the millennium. For many reasons it was not possible to capture, on film, every house and resident of the parish, it did however exceed expectations, in consequence a very high percentage of people and properties of Longhorsley are now recorded, for posterity, on a CD-ROM. "Longhorsley and its People 2000AD" is available now for any resident who would like a copy, free of charge. Ideally The History Society would like to publish it in book form, however as there are over 400 colour photographs, estimates so far sought, have been way beyond their financial capabilities, one day perhaps!

During the Longhorsley year various activities take place The Walking (or riding) of the Bounds takes place normally on the last Saturday in May, it's an excuse to have an ale (or two). In July, we have a village day, which consists of a show of garden produce, cookery, art, and craft articles. There are children's sports, a pet show, and the opportunity to see the exotic animals at close quarters when the West End Farm is open to visitors for the day, but only that day.

The last Saturday in the month a dance is held to a live band in the village hall, in addition the Longhorsley Ball takes place, at nearby Linden Hall Hotel, each November. The WI has a section that organise walks at regular intervals around our beautiful border county, and another group of them go swimming every Wednesday at a local holiday complex. The Art Club each year hold an exhibition of their work in the village hall.

Bill Ricalton, July 2001

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