On Friday 29 September I headed North to give my Carmichael talk to the Friends of Beamish. At Newcastle I jumped on the metro and headed south to Bede. I last here with Hannah one Christmas Eve as she wanted a Barbour jacket from the factory shop next door. Today’s purchase was a Gregg’s pasty – purchased with my first Jane Austen £5. I wonder what Jane would make of walking down the street stuffing one’s face with a Gregg’s Pasty (“O Mr Darcy”).
My first stop was St Paul’s church – NZ 339652 – website. I got a nice welcome, and the first person to greet was the Reverend John Hodgson MA. He was a great Northumberland historian, and worked with Faraday and others on mine safety. I knew I’d heard of him, but he doesn’t appear in this blog (even though he is buried at Hartburn).
First we must go back to an evening more famous Northumbrian historian – the Venerable Bede. Here is a website about him (with a film to watch). 673-735, he spent most of his life at this monastery and the one at Monkwearmouth – website. I won’t re-write his life, look at my previous blog.
There is an early dedication stone, recognising that the Chancel is Saxon. Here you feel that you are in one of the earliest churches of our country. There is an ancient dedication slab, and some Saxon glass in a small, round window. Statue by Fenwick Lawson – we came across his work at Lindisfarne and Durham. His website is here.
The east window is a wonderful Evetts window – I do miss his lovely glass. (If you want to know more about him and his glass look at Wylam on my blog, or the Evetts glass category. His obituary is here.
There is some lovely, ancient wood work. The Stalls are C15, the revolving arm chair was made from monastery timber in the C19, and the other was sat in by Bede (of course it was).
Here is the view from the Chancel looking back into the Nave.
I was involved with these Spirit in Stone banners when in the Diocese of Newcastle – it is good seeing one still doing the job it was designed for. The Risen Ascended Christ is by Fenwick Lawson. It is a little sad that we ignore all the other history of a place like this – especially the huge numbers of men who went off to fight in WW1.
Thank you, as well, to the volunteers who keep this church open today. Theirs is not the easiest of parishes – and not one that tourists will naturally visit. I’m glad that when we do, even on an autumnal September afternoon, the church is open and welcoming.
I went for a wander round the ruins of the monastery itself – ruins in the care of English Heritage. There is a website and you can download an audio guide, I must have a go at that sometime. We’ve also been doing some work on the World Heritage Sites – so here is the listing.
I walked across the park to Jarrow Hall – website. For many years this was Bede’s World. We first came here in about 1995, and have returned several times since. It went bust last year, has now re-opened, but not a lot has changed. It is going to need vision to stay open, the building and displays need some work. Jarrow is not a tourist centre, Bede does not have much pull (interesting that the Jarrow Hall visitor information leaflet does not even tell us who he is), and although there were several school parties in, they are going to need to appeal to a lot more people. I wonder if Durham Cathedral and their Open Treasures exhibition – on the list for 2018 – Beamish and the other big museums in the North East, can do anything to help get visitors in their direction. Surely someone has some Anglo Saxon treasures in a store somewhere that could make a wonderful exhibition to pull in the punters.
It is depressing that English Heritage do not mention the existence of Jarrow Hall on their website. You wouldn’t think it would hurt Tyne and Wear Museums (now minus Wear, but that’s another issue) to have “Other local museums” on their webpage. Nexus, the metro, operators have the now closed Monkwearmouth station museum on their website, but not Jarrow Hall. Does the North East want Jarrow Hall to suceed? I hope and pray it can be made to work – and I wish them all the very best.
The nice bunch of Friends at Beamish seemed to enjoy my talk, and my thanks to Clare and Lyndon for their hospitality.