Byline: By Tony Henderson
It is perhaps apt that an angel looks down on the focal point of Lamesley ( its church.
The Angel of the North, which stands on the site of the former Teams Colliery, is one of the more recent and dramatic additions to the local landscape.
St Andrew's Church in Lamesley celebrates its 250th anniversary in 2009.
But Derek Bell, who with wife Margaret has attended the church for the last 47 years, thinks the site has been a place of worship since Anglo-Saxon times.
Derek, parish council secretary who lives in nearby Ouston, has carried out research on the church and village and found there was a chapel of ease on the site of the present church in 1286 which was linked to St Cuthbert's Church in Chester-le-Street.
"I am also convinced that there was a Roman road running up the valley," says Derek. There is a Roman fort at Washingwells , near Whickham.
Two medieval grave covers were discovered at the church during restoration work in 1884.
The church registers go back to 1603, with an entry in 1610 of 28 deaths "of the pestilence".
In 1617, the burial is recorded of John Yeath, described as "the great archer of Lamesley".
There was a missed opportunity in 1790, when John Wesley records in his journal: " I was invited to preach at Lemsley (sic) Church on the side of Gateshead Fell but the minister changed his mind."
The Rev John Croft served the parish for 53 years until 1951, when he died, still in post, at the age of 100. …