WHAT do the figure of Death, Sunday schools and lead mining have in common? They’re all featured in the 29th edition of Hexham Historian of course.

Produced by the Hexham Local History Society and spearheaded by editors Mark Benjamin and Liz Sobell, the journal once again delves deep into Tynedale’s varied past.

This edition will feature a chapter in the journal from Thomas Kelsey which details Hexham Abbey’s impressive painting collection, which has been recognised nationally and holds artefacts dating back to the 15th century.

This includes the prized ‘Dance of Death Sequence’ of five panels, which depicts the figure of Death coming to collect King, Cardinal and paupers alike.

Another painting depicts the only known representation of a Hexham prior, Prior Leschman, who is shown kneeling before Christ, whose face has been deliberately damaged.

There is also a chapter devoted to Allenheads’ growth into a 17th century mining village from Greg Finch, in which he describes the settlements which sprung up around the mine as the resembling the “rumbustious shanty towns of the American Wild West’.”

Greg takes readers back to a time where squalid mining shops were occupied by countless young men “attracted to a hard life in these barren valleys by the prospect of a decent cash wage”.

Two of these men included Edward Stout and Robert Jackson who lost their lives underground in the dangerous occupation.

There was also the sad case of a man known only as ‘the son of William Mills’ who died in the mine in 1672, but was not afforded the dignity of a forename by the minister in Allendale town, Henry Dacres, and only a blank space was left instead.

Hugh Dixon explores the history of Hexham’s Hallstile Bank which, despite being the muse of artist John Varley’s watercolour in 1830, was once known for its health horrors due to overflowing sewerage drains. The chapter details the street’s various changes through the centuries, including names, with the street previously being known as Hall Stile and Black-bull-bank, and buildings which have sprung up and been torn down throughout the centuries.

There’s also chapters on the history of Hexham’s Sunday schools from Christine Seal, an historic guide to Hexham’s bridges through time from Sue Ward, and a detailed description of three soldiers’ journey to Hexham which could only be described as a 15th century Trip Advisor review of the town’s facilities.

Editor of the Hexham Historian, Mark gives a detailed rundown of a meeting between the Hexham Rifle Volunteers in 1859, a group born out of the government’s fear over an invasion scare prompted by Napoleon III’s war with Italy, whose members included Joseph Catherall, founder of the Hexham Courant newspaper, Somerset Beaumont, Mr Richard Gibson and Ralph Ridley.

Hexham Historian can be purchased from local bookshops or online at www.hexhamhistorian.org.