See also Bedeís World
St Paulís has been a place of Christian worship for over 1300 years. The monastery site was one of Europeís most influential centers of learning in the 7th and 8th centuries. It was the home of the Venerable Bede, a priest, monk, and scholar of Jarrow. He came here as a boy from St Peterís, a sister site, and is now buried in the Galilee chapel in Durham cathedral.
Two churches, one larger than the other and built later, and a monastery were built on land given by King Ecgfrith of Northumbria in AD 681. Benedict Biscop, a Northumbrian nobleman, founded it. He had built the church and monastery of St Peterís at Wearmouth seven years before. His inspiration came from his six visits to Rome from which he brought altar crosses and shrines for the church. St Paulís church is now a place of pilgrimage.
Most of the stonework of the chancel of todayís church is the original Saxon stone church. It was built to serve as a church for the monastery. A larger church was also built on the site of the present nave and dedicated 23 April AD 685 (a dedication stone has survived and is now over the tower arch.) A tower joined the two Anglo-Saxon churches. In the 12th century the low tower was raised to serve as a belfry.
The church and monastery were sacked by the Vikings in AD794. In 1074 the church was repaired and the monastery re-founded by Aldwin, prior of Winchcombe abbey in Gloucestershire. Remnants of the church foundation can be found under the existing south wall of the nave as well as part of the cobbles that form the foundation in the present church.
The nave and north aisle of the existing church were built in 1866 (the larger existing church at the time had become unsafe) and are credited to Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert Scott. The nave was joined to the chancel with a tower.St Paulís became a parish church when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries.
Be sure to see the 7th century foundations in the main aisle; the Saxon cross in the centre of the north nave exhibition; the dedication stone high above the chancel arch (it records in a Latin inscription the dedication of the church on 23 April AD 685); the Saxon chancel with its three Saxon windows; the central window in the southern chancel wall with Anglo-Saxon window glass remains; the ambry in south wall of sanctuary; the ancient chair; the late 15th century choir stalls; the exhibition of sculptureóoriginally painted, in the north aisle (found when the earlier churches were demolished).
The monastery next to the church has scant remains. The chancel and Anglo-Saxon foundations can be viewed along with other walls built after the first monastery. The walls of this first monastery were demolished to use the stone to build a medieval monastery in the late 11th and 12th centuries.
The Norman cloister wall south from the church and parallel to it exists as well as two original doors in the west wall and one in the south wall. Part of the east range survives. There would have been a dining hall, dormitory, oratory, and the other usual monastery buildings. The domestic buildings are now marked by widely spaced cobbles. A cemetery was located between the two churches. The monastic buildings were built in the Roman style with plastered walls, tiled and lead roofs and coloured glass windows.
Orchards and gardens along the river provided food. A number of finds have been unearthed from the site including an amber seal, 13th century pennies, a bone-handled stylus, glazed floor tiles, and fragments of painted window glass. The monastery had one of the worldís best libraries at the time. Manuscripts surviving include the Codex Amiatinus, the oldest surviving one-volume Latin Bible in the world.
St Paul's Church
Jarrow NE32 3DZ
Tel. 0 191 489 7052
Open: Mon-Sat, 11am-3pm; Sun, 2-3.30pm, also for Sunday service
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