Looking at Churches Annual Trip
This year’s trip was to Bede’s World,St. Paul’s Church Jarrow and St. Peter’s Church Monkwearmouth. Bede’s World in Jarrow celebrates the life and achievements of the Venerable Bede, the most remarkable scholar of his age. He drew on the learning of the Roman world,applying it to the early medieval Christian times in which he lived. At his death in 735 he left a legacy of writings which have remained in continuous use for 1300 years. We visited the Anglo-Saxon site of the monastery of St Paul as well as the Age of Bede Exhibition with excavations from the site set in the context of Bede’s account of the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria. This gave us a fascinating picture of everyday life in the monastery. We saw the demonstration farm including the woolly pigs and the reconstructed timber dwellings which recreate the landscape familiar to Bede around AD700.
After a delicious buffet we walked to St. Paul’s Church where originally two monastery churches stood. The church is home to remarkable coloured stained glass, with some of the glass dating back 1300 years-the oldest stained glass in Europe. The chancel is a direct survival from the 7th century. Inside the church, cemented in the tower, is the original stone slab which records in Latin the dedication of the church in AD 685. The church today consists of a nave built by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1866 joined to the chancel by a tower which was originally a separate small Anglo-Saxon church.
On our way home we stopped to visit St Peter’s Church in Monkwearmouth founded by Benedict Biscop in 674.Bede was received into this community at the age of seven. By 716 the Wearmouth-Jarrow monasteries (St. Paul and St. Peter - one monastery in two places) housed over 600 monks and was renowned throughout Europe as a centre of learning. Much of the interior dates from a major restoration carried out in 1870 though medieval stonework is visible in the chancel area. There is an Anglo-Saxon porch, with unique carvings including the Abbot’s chair and ancient burial stones.
This was a most enjoyable and informative visit – we left knowing far more about the Venerable Bede and Anglo-Saxon life.
Our thanks go to Patrick and Michael for their enthusiasm and for teaching us so much during the year.