We first hear of the church in Chatton from a document issued sometime before 1184, where William de Vesci is said to have granted the church of Chatton to Alnwick Abbey and this community of the Abbey possessed the church until 1539.
In 1236 the Bishop of Durham, Richard le Poor, ordained a vicarage in Chatton by agreement with the Abbot of Alnwick, the vicar being Richard de Vesci, Canon of Beverley.
With the dissolution of the monasteries, the possession of the Church passed into the hands of the crown. Much of the monastic lands were sold or given away, and in 1604-5 the Rectory was dismembered and the parcels of the same were granted to various individuals. The patronage of the Holy Cross was then given to the Earldom of Percy, the Dukes of Northumberland.
As the patron did not reside in the parish of Chatton, the chancel, which it was traditional for the patron to keep in order to set up his pew and in which to bury his dead, was neglected after the Reformation. By 1636 it was in such a sorry state that it was abandoned to ruin and the chancel arch was built up in front. In 1681 the church was reported to be "out of repair" and in 1710 it is said to have been burnt down, the walls, however, surviving the fire. Before 1714 it had been restored, but apparently in a rather temporally manner as in 1736 it had just been plastered, whitewashed and flagged. William Burrell, then vicar introduced several improvements. He restored the choir to the state in which it was possible for him to be buried in it on his death in 1752; although in 1758 Archdeacon John Sharpe reported that the church had been in ruins for a long time. It is possible that there was another fire, as in 1765 a "brief" was issued for collections in churches in the diocese of Durham "for Chatton Church" and in 1770 the nave and tower were rebuilt and possibly the choir also. The church was rebuilt in the early gothic revival style, and has some rather quaint and interesting details.
Between 1822 and the end of the nineteenth century successive vicars gradually transformed this eighteenth century church into a pastiche of mediaeval detail, raiding from the thirteenth century to the fifteenth century in "periods" and producing on the whole quite a good effect, if one can forget its essential falsity.
© 2017 Holy Cross Chatton