Tuesday, 12 February 2013

West Rainton’s Pyramid Fragment (NZ323469)

© Copyright Alexander P Kapp and licensed for 

St.Mary’s Church, West Rainton, was built in 1864 to replace an earlier chapel which occupied the site. It is notable for its rather lofty tower – some 130ft in height – which seems to be somewhat out of proportion to the rest of its modest frame.

The disparity is explained by the fact that the tower and spire were added in 1877 thanks to the generosity of Sir George Elliot, MP, in memory of his daughter, Elizabeth. Elliot, an extraordinary character who rose from trapper boy to the baronetcy, had a colourful network of high-ranking contacts. One of his many roles was as financial advisor to the Egyptian Khedive.

It was this unusual link with the Land of the Pharaohs which gave the church and village its famous historical relic. For there exists a granite tablet within the church which records the gift of the tower and spire by Sir George – and the inscription also states that the tablet is a portion of a block of stone obtained by Elliot in 1876 from the Great Pyramid of Giza … with the permission of his pal, the Khedive, of course.

There is a similar ‘Giza stone’ in Penshaw Church – near to where Elliot lived as a boy.

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