Saturday, 18 October 2014

Interesting places in Newcastle and Gateshead: St. Mary's Heritage Centre.

St . Mary's Hertiage Centre
St May's previously was a church which closed in 1979 and left to decay. With help from Gateshead Council, the heritage lottery and the European Regional Development fund contributed £1.2 million pounds to transform the once ruined church in St Mary's Heritage Centre. The Centre provides a wide resource of historical information about Gateshead to the local community and visitors. The Centre provides a whole array of event to cater for everybody. The events they provide; local festival, workshops, classes, guide heritage walks, family history surgeries, concerts and performances. They have a gift shop selling local artisan crafts(1).  

St . Mary's Heritage Centre
A letter from St Bede's was mentioned to Utta, Abbott of Gateshead Supposedly in 623 AD, suggesting the age  there was a monastery in Gatehead around that time (2).  The church originally, may of been built in the Gateshead monastery as  some records suggest 'monastery dating back to 635 AD, despite this there in no substantial  evidence to support this. The Church was known as the St Mary the Virgin originally built by the Saxons  and was destroyed in 1080, it was burnt down in a fire during the Anglo-Saxon revolt. The Saxon doorway is the only remaining part of the church (3)

St.Mary's grave yard
St. Mary's graveyard
St. Mary  provided care to the local community, e.g; poor, sick and education to the community, which heavily relied on donations and parish levy. The local parish built a poorhouse in the 1600's, and used a side building to educate the local community, known as the Anchorage. It originally was secured cell that housed an Anchoress, teaching duties, this was authorised by the Bishop of Durham in 1340 and close in 1870 because the introduction of the new school system.(3). 
One of the Windows in the Centre
In the 16th century, became the seat of local government called four and twenty, which consisted of twenty four prominent community members. They governed issues of highway maintenance,  care of the poor and the parish ensured legislation was adhered to. Eventually, they had so much power and could appoint churchwardens, overseers, constables this mainly occurred at Easter. In 1658, Thomas Wald, a Puritan minister in order the council to remove him from office required to obtain an  Order of council form Oliver Cromwell. (3)

St Mary's Clock tower 
All marriages and burials were performed in St Mary's until 1825. In 1836 Gateshead's first Mayor, George Hawks meetings were held in the Anchorage until they moved elsewhere. (3).

Model of the St. Mary's

Image of the Rectors of St. Mary 


1.St Mary's Heritage Centre. (2014). St Mary's Heritage Centre. Available: Last accessed 18/10/2014

2.Wikipedia . (2014). Gateshead. Available: Last accessed 18/10/2014 

3. Hodgson, J. (2014). Background and History. Available: Last accessed 18/10/2014.

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