St Giles, Durham f.198
Artist: Grimm, Samuel Hieronymus
Medium: Ink on paper
Encouraged by King David of Scotland, William Cumin had falsely appointed himself Prince Bishop of Durham, taking residence at Durham Castle for three years and terrorising the public with his band of armed retainers.
In March 1143, the Dioceses appointed William De St Barbara as Prince Bishop, and he travelled north with armed support from a number of local barons. Cumin would not stand down immediately, so St Barbara spent the night in St Giles' church. The following morning Cumin broke down the church doors and a sword battle broke out between the supporters of the rival bishops. Terrified monks caught up in the fight prayed desperately for peace.
Three attempts were made to oust Cumin. The third, in August 1144, was successful. This time St Barbara had enlisted the help of the Earl of Northumberland’s army. Cumin’s men fled the scene, though not before burning down the hospital.