Fenham, Newcastle – St James and St Basil (again)

Thursday 27 August was another glorious day, and another day out. For those of you who don’t know, the Church of England is its own planning authority, and planning decisions are made by the DAC (Diocesan Advisory Committee) – well, to be exact, we recommend to the Chancellor of the Diocese who makes the decision. The DAC has a wide group of members – architects, archaeologists, a bells’ expert, a stained glass window expert, heating chap, representative of English Heritage, etc. etc., and a few clergy (“that’s me folks”). We meet monthly, on several occasions in a year a small group of us will go to a church to talk through their plans and ideas with them, and once a year we have a bus trip to visit several churches where work has been done/is planned. Lucy, our DAC Secretary, could have a second career as a Thomson Rep. (I remember a Thomson Rep in Athens many decades ago who greeted my dad with the phrase “You Thomson?”).

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I met the group at St James and St Basil in Fenham – a church I have visited (and blogged about before). Looking at that blog from 2011, I am quite pleased how my blog has developed since then. The church has developed too. Last time I commented on the scruffy chairs – now replaced. The church have recently received a very large HLF grant to restore the original 1931 Walker organ and fund a music development post for two years.

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They also have a new kitchen area at the back, and have a cafe opened on Thursdays. (I think they said it was Thursday, but the church website doesn’t say which days it is open). The food looked lovely. They are also doing concerts on Saturdays – so you might find these on their website. I gently suggested to the lady who seemed to be in charge that, as the Diocese employs a Communications Officer, it might be an idea to communicate cafe and concerts to him so he could communicate them to the rest of us … . It is lovely to see the cafe area outside – the church does feel a bit like a fortress against the road, so how good that the walls are being broken through.

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There is much more information about the history of the church on my previous blog entry – briefly, it was built in 1931, paid for my Sir James Knott, a wealthy Tyneside ship owner and philanthropist in memory of his sons James and Basil, who were killed in the First World War. The architect was Eric Edward Lofting, assistant surveyor to the fabric of Westminster Abbey. Neil, one of the DAC members, gave us the history. Searching on the www for more information about Lofting, I found this article by him all about the church. The twin aisles commemorate the two sons.

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I love the windows – based on Psalm 104. Just a couple this time.

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We continued to Hexham. I need to do a proper blog of Hexham Abbey but, before I do, I need to get all my photos in one place. You’ll need to be patient. Having had coffee and cake at Js & Bs, we had more coffee when we got to Hexham, and then an excellent lunch before we left. The DAC day out is not conducive to losing weight.

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