Bede's World, Church Bank, Jarrow, Tyne and Wear NE32 3DY, UK.
Phone +44 (0)191 489 2106 „
Western Europe was a dark and dangerous place at the beginning of the 8th century BC, the post-Roman gloom illuminated only by dim lights in the old capital and at Jarrow, Northumbria, a small monastic settlement at the furthest edges of their former Empire founded by Benedict Biscop. One man in particular, born of a lowly family who had left him at the Benedictine monastery of St Peter's, Wearmouth, aged 7, "shone forth as a lantern", producing over 150 written works on subjects as diverse as Gregorian chanting, poetry, history, science and biblical translations. His name was simply Baeda (an Old English word meaning priest) but he would be renowned as not only the greatest of all Anglo-Saxon scholars but also "the father of English History" and "the teacher of the Middle Ages." BEDE'S WORLD An atrium at the entrance to the museum building, constructed in line with Roman and early medieval styles, induces an immediate sense of tranquillity, setting the scene beautifully for the interior exhibitions. Reception is straight ahead at a desk to the right of the gift shop - well stocked with books, stationery and small gifts - and opposite the small room housing temporary displays and the main entrance to the Age of Bede. THE AGE OF BEDE In the beginning came the Romans, as evidenced by roof tiles and jewellery recovered from the nearby forts of Arbeia and Segedunum. Life size reproductions of stone figures - an Irish Abbot, a Pictish Warrior King and an Anglo-Saxon man - glare across from an opposite corner next to a reconstructed skeleton found in a cemetery in Cleveland, and a Germanic voice intones the words of an Anglo-Saxon poem, The Ruin, which imagines the lost civilisation of an abandoned Roman city. A doorways opens into the bright white spaces of Northumbria, ahead and to the left are reconstructions of armour, scale models of ancient settlements, displays on the six journeys Benedict Bi
scop made to Rome and colourful text and pictures explaining the art, culture, history and religion of the kingdom. Biscop leads us to the Monastic Life, with models of the churches he built at Wearmouth and Jarrow and assorted artefacts including carved sandstone friezes, roof tiles, stone carvings, imported Gaulish pottery, a full size replica of an illustrated bible written at Wearmouth-Jarrow and now housed in Florence and a reproduction of the original foundation stone from St Paul's (the original is above the chancel in the church itself). The construction of the monastery was truly revolutionary, as shown by the displays of early glassmaking techniques and the fact that it was the first major new stone building work since Roman times. On the other side of the room are far more simplistic personal objects belonging to the monks themselves and text detailing their lifestyle and accomplishments - up at 1.30am for early mass, followed by hours of prayer, work and study and a bedtime of 6pm in winter and 9pm in summer. At the end, in a plain circular room dedicated to Bede, I sit in four alcoves and listen to extracts of his work and explanations of his role as a teacher, poet, historian and scientist, the narration eerily layered by monastic chanting from the previous room and the sound effects of a video presentation on the other side of the next doorway. Though Bede is best known as the author of the 'Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation', a chronicle of events from the Roman occupation to the time of the book's completion in 731AD which remains one of our main authorities on Anglo-Saxon life and the early Christian period, he also wrote poetry in Old English and Latin, made the first known attempt to translate the Bible into English, popularised the Anno Domini dating system, mastered Latin, Greek and Hebrew, wrote three Latin hymns and believed that the Earth was round "like a playground ball" rather than &q
uot;like a shield." The only Englishman named in Dante's Paradiso, the breadth of his knowledge is even more astounding when you consider it was likely he travelled no further than Lindisfarne and York in his lifetime. Centuries before the effects of gravity became widely known he understood that the moon influenced the cycle of tides. He wrote of a world influenced by weather patterns and climatic change, and in particular, recognised the annual solar movements into the north and south hemispheres and, in his Ecclesiastical History, not only sourced and acknowledged all his references but also shaped what we know as the English national consciousness at a time when the country was only just beginning to emerge from the various crises and rivalries of the competing nation states. Not bad for a work of Northumbrian propaganda! But by far my favourite section of the whole room is a simple piece of text detailing Bede's reading list as of 731AD, in particular the reference to "a book on the life and passion of St Anastasius which was badly translated from the Greek by some ignorant person." I love the little glimpse of the man behind the great scholar here. Maybe that’s why Ken Livingstone deemed calls for a statue of him to be placed on the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square to be "politically incorrect." (Or as politically incorrect as you can get in a space dominated by Imperial Lions and Admiral Nelson anyway!) Before you enter the video room take the lift or stairs up to the first floor, where a room holds facsimiles of stained glass windows and an illustration of Bede’s mathematical prowess (he could count up to one million by way of a complicated system based on shapes formed by the fingers and hands). Spend a couple of minutes admiring the views of Jarrow Hall and the top of St Paul's and then head back downstairs for the video presentation on Northumbria and the world of Bede. To the right of th
e screen are exhibits on the death of the great monk, including his reputed last words, and later excavated finds from the site outside including medieval floor tiles, Northumbrian, French and Scottish coins and a collection of Victorian clay pipes. At the very end are a number of quotes from great historical figures on Bede’s importance, best among which is William of Malmesbury's: "Born in a far corner of the earth, by the spark of his learning he has touched deeply all lands." What a way to talk about my hometown! GYRWE ANGLO - SAXON FARM The reconstructed timber buildings and farm land of Gyrwe (the Anglo-Saxon name for Jarrow, pronounced Yeer-weh) spread over 10.5 acres of land reclaimed from a derelict petrol storage site. Exiting the museum building from the corridor between the end of the Age of Bede exhibition and the reception area, a dirt track leads past a cone shaped goosehouse built to a 9th century design with limewashed oak posts interwoven with hazel below a thatched wheat straw roof. A flock of geese wander along a fence constructed of long intertwined branches and two Dexter oxen, slightly smaller than modern cows, laze on the edge of Romano-British fields split by a gentle stream, a hazel coppice, Hebridean and Manx sheep and dozens of chickens. To the right fleeces and ducks are on sale, the former hanging outside the large workshop building and animal sheds. A short distance further, behind the pig pen containing two ancient Tamworth breeds crossed with Wild Boar, a path veers up to the high ground, looking back down on a vegetable garden full of peas, onions, leeks, white carrots and wild cabbage and up towards the landscaped edge of the site facing out over the confluence of the wide Tyne and the narrow mud flats of the River Don estuary. Standing next to the Bronze Age burial mound I'm caught in a sudden burst of drizzle and a blast of wind - weather patterns unchanged since the days of Bede himself.
He probably wouldn't have recognised much beyond the outskirts of the farm, however - thousands of cars lined up for Nissan transport ships, giant oil drums on the Shell-Mex site, electricity pylons, the corrugated iron roof of a factory, the Bergen ferry pulling into the Tyne, and the towering shipyard cranes away in the distance behind the solitary Northumbrian Cross in the far corner. Designed and carved by Keith Ashford, who was inspired by 8th century stone crosses, the monument overlooks one of the most famous stretches of the river from Wallsend in the west to North Shields on the bend to the east. In the opposite direction lie the remaining three restored Anglo-Saxon timber buildings, a willow coppice and an orchard containing Crab apples, elderberries, pears and strawberries. Walk down the path and follow the branch to the left for the first of the buildings, the Hartlepool Monastic Cell - a small dirt floor covered by a reed thatched roof held up by whole tree trunk supports with thin strips of horizontal wood for walls where monks and nuns lived and worked. Loop back across the grass for the limewashed, irregular Thirlings Hall, passing a pole lathe used for making tool handles and furniture on the way. The Hall, large and open plan, is based on a 6th century landowner's residence excavated in Northumberland. As with the other buildings visitors are free to inspect the interior, full of long tables, a huge fire and various implements with a window propped open at one side. The final structure is the Grubenhaus, a simple dwelling with oak walls and a triangular thatched heather roof that covers both sides of the building down to ground level. Four steps lead from the entrance to a sunken dirt floor; the whole thing is reminiscent of a tent built over a tiny pit. From here the track winds back over a ford on the edge of a small pond back through the open vegetable fields, past children fascinated by the animals and adults
enthralled by the sheer magnitude of it all. JARROW HALL Overlooking the old monastic estate and Drewett’s Park, now full of ankle length grass, picnic tables and a children’s playground, the Grade II listed Georgian building was completed in 1785 as a residence for a philanthropic local shipyard and coal mine owner. From 1935 it was used as a Nursery School, a wartime ammunition store, a store for the park gardener and, following restoration work in the 1970s, the site of the original Bede Monastery Museum. Today, aside from the restored Oval Room (used for conferences) and some wall displays on the history and inhabitants of the building, the main point of interest for visitors is the ground floor café, which sells sandwiches, salads, jacket potatoes and a wide variety of drinks at very reasonable prices. A small Herb Garden is located to the rear of the Hall. Based on Anglo-Saxon and Medieval designs it's a lovely place to sit in the shade, surrounded by rectangular beds, trellises and hundreds of different culinary and medicinal herbs. When you've finished here, wander across the field to St Paul's and the ruined monastery. But I'll save that story for another time. OVERALL Bede's World is an extremely impressive site with a great deal to interest both children and adults. Though the Age of Bede exhibition suffers a little from having relatively little authentic material, the presentation is nonetheless involving and interesting. The outdoor farm is fascinating, especially for kids, and the adjacent St Paul's Church and Monastery is still wonderfully evocative. Throw in the year round educational events - everything from craft fairs to theatrical productions and Anglo-Saxon re-enactments to historical lectures - and it’s easy to see why Bede's World has such a great reputation. And if you still don't want to pay £4.50 to see it all, you can always visit for
free during the annual Heritage Open Days in mid-September (www.heritageopendays.org) or spend some time browsing the museum's excellent website (address listed below). DETAILS Bede's World Museum of Early Medieval Northumbria Church Bank, Jarrow Tel: 0191 4282361 www.bedesworld.co.uk ADMISSION Adults £4.50 Concessions £2.50 Family Ticket (2 Adults & 2 Children) £9.00 Half price for English Heritage members OPENING TIMES April - October: 10 - 5:30 Monday - Saturday, 12 - 5:30 Sunday November - March: Closing time one hour earlier. GETTING THERE The nearest Metro station is the appropriately named Bede. Travelling from Newcastle, exit the station and turn left in the direction of the Barbour factory. Then follow the signs for Bede's World and Jarrow Hall (10-15 minute walk). Taxis and buses (the 526 or the 527) operate from Jarrow (one stop earlier). The Museum is located two minutes from the south end of the Tyne Tunnel. There are full directions for drivers on the website and car parking is available on-site, both in front of the main building and directly across the road.
I'm a Jarrow lass and the one thing I've learned over the years about coming from Jarrow is that no matter where I am in the country when I'm asked where I come from most people have heard of Jarrow, they may not know exactly where it is in England but if they are avid readers they will talk about Catherine Cookson, those with an interest in athletics will tell me about "The Jarrow Arrow" Steve Cram and most people over the age of thirty-five will have studied the Depression of the 1930's and the Jarrow Crusade in social history at school. All three of those deserve their recognition but it always saddens me a little that very few people ever mention the first person to put Jarrow on the map, St. Bede also known as the Venerable Bede. St. Bede was a genius, his books, some of which have been in continuous circulation for more that thirteen hundred years, tell us how he understood complex scientific principles, as well as explaining the Bible for others and this was in a time when most people could not even read. He wrote what is considered to be the definitive history of England from the coming of Christianity to his own time, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People and he solved the biggest scientific problem of his day in calculating a basis for setting the date of Easter, which is still used today. Bede also wrote about the world being round when it was commonly believed to be flat and he knew about the effect of the moon on tides before gravity had been discovered. People all over Europe looked to Bede for answers and his ideas still influence many people today. Thirteen hundred years ago Jarrow was one of the most important places in the world, the monastery was the home of some very accomplished craftsmen who produced beautifully illustrated manuscripts for use all over Europe, it was also home to St. Bede who was medieval Europe's greatest scholar and his extraordinary life (673 to 735) created a rich
legacy of learning that is celebrated today in the stunning Bede?s World museum. The aim of Bede's World is to help bring to life the story of Bede and the Anglo-Saxon people of his time, the museum is designed to tell the story in a way that enables everyone, of any age, background or ability to enjoy their visit and leave feeling they have gained something from the museum. The museum is divided into two sections The Museum The museum building is housed in the eighteenth century Jarrow Hall (the exterior of which has been used in many Catherine Cookson films including the Cinder Path and the Glass Virgin). The tranquil setting of a Benedictine Monastery is re-created within the museum enhanced by soft Gregorian chanting in the background. The main exhibition of Bede's World is 'The Age of Bede' this uses larger than life models, interactive displays and artefacts uncovered by archaeologists on the site to tell the story of Anglo- Saxon Northumbria, the events leading up to the building of the monastery at Jarrow and St. Bede. One stunning exhibit is of a seventh century stained glass window (made in Jarrow by the monastic craftsmen) and the colours appear as vivid today as when they were first made. You are encouraged to try on the monk's vestments and are able to sit in peaceful alcoves and listen to recordings of someone portraying the voice of Bede reading from his books. Also within the museum there is a shop selling copies of the tapes you hear in the museum, books, cards and other small souvenirs, a cafe serving delicious meals and refreshments and just outside there is a replica monastic herb garden. Although Bede's World as we now know it opened in August 2000 there has been a museum in Jarrow Hall for about fifteen years and an Archaeologist Dig around the Hall started in about the late 1970's, I enjoyed a great couple of week-ends helping on the Dig during my ear
ly twenties. When one of my sons was about eleven he went to Jarrow Hall with his school and took part in a televised re-enactment of the Life and Times of St. Bede to help advertise the Museum. My son was one of ten boys who were asked to dress as monks working in the background of the short programme, I was lucky enough to record the programme on video and it is a great source of embarrassment to him on the odd occasion I put the tape on. The Anglo-Saxon Farm On an eleven-acre site next to the museum there is a working Anglo-Saxon farm called Gyrwe (pronounced Jeerwe, some people belief this was the Anglo-Saxon name of Jarrow), the farm is designed to recreate life outside the monastery walls. Gyrwe gives adults and children the opportunity to see rare breeds of animals and ancient strains of cereal and vegetables as close as possible to the breeds and vegetation Bede himself would have seen. The reconstructed timber buildings help visitors to really experience what living and working conditions might have been like for people in the seventh and eighth century. Historic re-enactments demonstrate how medieval villagers lived and dressed and family events and activities add a further dimension, with costumed characters and activities, including pottery and other crafts, for all ages. St. Paul's Church and Monastery No trip to Bede's World is complete without a visit to the beautiful St. Paul's Church and Monastery ruins. Most people assume that this is part of Bede?s World however it is a not. The Church and Monastery are located at the opposite side of Druid?s Park (a small park with picnic area, children's swings and a green for ball games) it is about a three-minute walk through the park from the Museum to the Church. St. Paul's Church and Monastery was built on land given by King Ecgrit h of Northumbria in AD 681 and was founded by Benedict Biscop. <
br>The chancel of St. Paul's is the original Anglo-Saxon church bu ilt as a separate chapel and dedicated to Our Lady. A large Basilica was built on the site of the present nave and dedicated on 23rd April AD 685. The present nave and north aisle of the church are the work of the Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert Scott. The monastery next to the church was were St. Bede lived, worked and worshipped and in the seventh and eighth centuries it was a thriving monastery however in AD 794 the Vikings sacked the church and monastery. In 1074 the church was repaired and the monastery re-founded by Aldwin, Prior of Winchcombe Abbey and it became a daughter house of the Benedictine Community of Durham. What to look for in the Church Seventh Century Foundations Exposed in the main aisle of the church you can see part of the north wall of the larger Anglo-Saxon Church. Anglo-Saxon Cross In the centre of the North Nave Exhibition you can see the foot of an Anglo-Saxon Cross and read its Latin inscription, which when translated reads ?In this unique sign, life is restored to the world?. The Dedication Stone The original dedication stone has now been re-sited and can be seen high above the Chancel arch. The Anglo-Saxon Chancel In the Chancel there are three splayed Saxon windows, the middle window still contains Saxon glass made in the Monastic workshops. An ancient chair, which is believed to have been St. Bede?s, is on display here and on the north side of the Chancel you are able to sit in the late fifteenth century choir stalls. Exhibition of Sculpture There is a unique collection of Anglo-Saxon Sculpture on display in the North Aisle of the church, the three wooden sculptures 'The Risen Ascended Christ', 'The Venerable Bede' and 'St. Michael and the Devil' are the work of the local and well-known artist Fenwick Lawson. The Monastic Site Out
side of the church are the remains of the domestic buildings of the Monastery. The standing ruins dating mostly from the eleventh century. Visitor Information about St. Paul?s Church The church is working Parish church with daily worship and everyone is welcome to join the service however it is also open daily for visitors. Opening times are: Monday to Saturday 10.00am to 4.30pm Sunday 2.30pm to 4.30pm Special services can be arranged in advance for Parishes or Groups who make a Pilgrimage to St. Paul's For Information about St. Paul's contact: St. Andrew's House, Borough Road, Jarrow, Tyne and Wear, NE32 5BL Telephone (0191) 489 3279 or (0191) 489 7052 Visitors to the Church and Monastery are welcome free of charge however there is a small Piety Stall in the Narthex of the church selling books, pens, postcards and other small souvenirs and all donations are gratefully accepted. Visitor Information about Bede's World Opening times: Monday to Saturday 10.00am to 5.30pm Sunday 12.00 noon to 5.30pm April to October (November to March the Museum closes one hour earlier each day) Last admission thirty minutes before closing The Museum is open Bank Holidays Admission Adults £4.50, Concessions and children £2.50, Family Ticket £9.00 (two adults and two children) Families with a UB40 £6.00 School Educational Visits £1.85 per pupil Address Bede's World, Church Bank, Jarrow, Tyne and Wear, NE32 3DY Telephone (0191) 489 2106 Fax (0191) 428 2361 Email: email@example.com Website: www.bedesworld.co.uk Location Jarrow lies on the South Bank of the River Tyne and approximately seven miles from Newcastle. To find Bede's World by car from the South take the A19 and ex it right at the roundabout at the Tyne Tunnel entry, follow the signs for South Shields and take the first
left onto Church Bank, St. Paul's Church and Bede's World are located half way up Church Bank. Coming from the North take the second exit of the roundabout as soon as you come out of the Tyne Tunnel, follow the signs for South Shields and take the first left onto Church Bank.
For a man to be remembered for his writings after more than 1000 years is a noteworthy occurrence. There must be something truly remarkable about this person and surely deserves the time and effort spent in a closer look at his work. The person I am referring to is of course Bede, or the Venerable Bede to give him his correct title. The definitions of venerable in the dictionary are, respected, esteemed, and honoured. After his death, his friends were lavish in their praise of this amazing man. It comes across quite clearly that he was a nice person, a gentleman, and a truly venerable man. He was born about 672 or 673 A.D. in Northumbria. At seven years of age, his family delivered him to the monastery at Wearmouth, which was located at the mouth of the river Wear. There he was introduced to, and taught, a version of the Benedictine Rule. In 681 a monastery was established nearby at Jarrow at the mouth of the river Tyne. Bede moved there and along with twenty or so monks, continued service and education. This was under the guidance of Abbot Ceolfrith, who became a great friend and an inspiration to the young Bede. When he was nineteen years old, he was ordained as a deacon. This was an office normally reserved for much older monks. At thirty, he became a full priest. It is assumed from his writings that he never left the twin monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow, in his entire life, apart from a trip to Lindisfarne, and a trip to York. What then was it that made this man so remarkable? He produced two major works, and has become known as the father of English history. His most important work was The Ecclesiastical History of the English People. His other major work being The History of the Abbots of Wearmouth and Jarrow. From the titles you would hardy think they were ever destined to be best sellers, but remember that in those days, the only history being recorded was by Bede and other monks. Were it not for them we wou
ld know very little about our past. He was also a poet and wrote poems in Old English and Latin. In total he wrote some sixty books, (was he the first churner?) and when I say wrote, that is exactly what I mean as every word was scribed by Bede and his brother monks. These were the days when our friends the Romans had left and kingdoms were rising and falling, none more so than the mighty kingdom of Northumbria. Bede was the Kate Adie of his day (incidentally she comes from Wearmouth as well). He describes the mighty battles as well as the everyday happenings. He also tells us of the politics between Northumbria, and the Christianity of the Roman world. Bede not only gave us a true and honest history of the English people, but also was the nearest thing we had to a scientist in those days. It is accepted that his calculations were the first to show the connection between the moon and the tides. He meticulously charted the movement of tides and the various phases of the moon to come up with the first workable tide tables. Even in those far off days, Bede was recognized internationally. Pope Leo XIII named him a doctor of the Church in recognition of his work. During Easter, 735, Bede died. The Roman Church now celebrates his feast day, on 25 May. Bedes World, at Jarrow is a new venture, which shows us the archaeology of the monastery site and also breathes life into the ancient world of the Benedictine monks. On 6 August 2000 a new museum was opened with a new permanent exhibition, The Age of Bede. Bedes World is split into three parts: #The Museum #The Farm #St Pauls Church and Monastery The museum successfully attempts to create the peace and tranquillity of a Benedictine Monastery. The exhibits are set out in such a way that it is a sheer pleasure to wander from one to the next, learning the story of Bede and his work. A huge tableau showing monks building the
monastery takes pride of place, and the Gregorian chanting in the background sets it off perfectly. Finds from excavations are on display and include some of the first coloured window glass made in England. Unbelievably, the colours appear as clear and bright today as they were when they were made over 1300 years ago. You can sit in alcoves and listen to the voice of Bede reading from his books, or try on the monks cloak and cowl. (I nearly frightened the life out of myself when I tried them on. They actually suited me!) The museum also has a shop where you can buy a range of books and tapes, souvenirs, cards and other gifts, and there is a cafeteria adjacent to the building. The farm is called Gyrwe (pronounced 'Jeerwe') after the Old English name for Jarrow, and is a living breathing experience. The farm explores the life and work of the people who lived outside the monastery. It is, as you would expect all daub and wattle, with several very convincing buildings and implements. New buildings are being planned all the time based on the evidence of archaeological work in Northumbria and using accurate materials. The animals have not had it easy during the foot and mouth crisis, but have survived more or less intact. Here you can see the breeds of pigs, sheep, cattle, goats and poultry, which were bred 1000 years ago. You can see the ancient strains of wheat and vegetables, which our ancestors ate, being grown here. The farm provides an excellent setting for the regular series of Living History demonstrations that are planned throughout the year. St. Paul's church is a living thriving church and is the parish church of Jarrow. The section, which relates to Bede, is the chancel. It is a direct survival from the 7th century when it was a chapel within the monastery itself. The original stone slab which records in a Latin inscription the dedication of the church on 23 April AD 685 is still in situ, a fa
ct which in itself is quite remarkable. Behind the church you will see the remains of the Benedictine monastery, which was re-built on the site of Bede's monastery. Remains of buildings from Bede's day were found during excavations and the position of these walls is marked on the ground. As usual I would advise anyone who intends visiting this or any other museum, to check for offers with the local tourist information centre. The full cost for a visit to Bedes World is £4.50 for adults and £2.50 for children. Well worth it. It is simplicity itself to find as it is clearly marked, and not 5 minutes from the south end of the Tyne Tunnel. Dont know where the Tyne is? Believe me you will before I am finished with one or two more ops on this fascinating county of Northumbria.
This is a new category for dooyoo, one in a long line of museum-based suggestions that I have been flooding the poor staff with over the past couple of months! This one is a bit of a departure from the "traditional" museums that I have been writing so much about of late, however, Bede's World comes somewhere inbetween exhibition-based and outdoor museums. It is based around the life and times of the Venerable Bede, the priest and scholar who wrote the "Ecclesiastical History of the English People" in AD 731, and who was one of the greatest and most famous writers of his age. His works were known on the continent and were widely read and circulated, an incredible achievement for this time; the museum aims to commemorate and promote understanding of Bede. ● Location Although this has been put in the Newcastle category, Bede's World is actually in Jarrow, Tyne and Wear, based around the actual site of the monastery where he lived and worked (which was excavated in the 1960?s). It can be reached by car from the A19 or A185 (both of which pass through Jarrow), with parking provided free at the museum. If you are using public transport, then the nearest train station is Newcastle - from here, take the Metro to the Bede station (on the South Shields line), which is about a twenty minute walk from the museum, or to Jarrow where you can catch the 526 or 527 bus to it (they go about every 30 minutes). ● A bit of background The museum is independently run by Jarrow 700AD Ltd, a registered charity that is dependent both on grants from bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and South Tyneside Council and revenue from visitors (currently about 46,000 per year). The first phase opened back in 1974 and has been expanded and redeveloped since, with the latest part (worth around £4 million) completed in 2000 as a result of an active partnership with local councils and universities, English heritage
and the parish itself. Bede's World currently covers a 50-acre site. In the past year, the museum has been badly hit by foot and mouth disease, which was reported across the North East. Half of the attractions had to be closed to all non-essential people (including visitors of course) as they contained livestock, so the museum had to compensate by reducing the admission price by half as well. This hit Bede's World quite badly, as both income and visitor numbers fell during this period - as of the beginning of November 2001 though, the museum is again fully open and regular admission prices apply. ●What is at the site? - The museum, which houses the "age of Bede" exhibition and temporary displays from time to time - Jarrow Hall, an 18th century building with café, function rooms and replica monastic herb garden - St Paul's church, the remains of the original Anglo Saxon monastic building as well as being a current parish church for Jarrow - Gywre (pronounced "Jeerwe"), a working Anglo Saxon farm featuring monastic workshop, ancient cereal strains, and rare breeds of cattle, boar and sheep - Occasional special events such as living history displays, craft fairs and lectures (see web site for forthcoming attractions) ●My visit I went to Bede's World last Friday on the Metro from Newcastle - it took me about an hour to travel from central station to the actual museum itself, as I have to admit signage isn't great for pedestrians. Although there are signs in place for the carless, they are very small and are labelled "Jarrow Hall" and not Bede's World; if you don't know that the hall is on the museum site, then you may have some difficulty finding it. Maps are available on the promotional leaflets (available from the museum and tourist information centres), so I recommend that you take one with you in case you get a bit stuck! A
dmittedly the location itself isn't great - although the site is built on the actual location of Bede's monastery, it is now inbetween an industrial estate and the Tyneside docks. To be fair though, the grounds have been landscaped to help disguise this fact so don't let this put you off! The new museum building is also very attractive; the first thing that greats you as you enter is an atrium with a pool of water in it which is designed to give the place tranquil, monastic atmosphere. All of this building is well laid out and easily accessible, the displays do not bombard you with excess information, and there are some excellent replicas on display as well as finds from the excavation of the site. If you don't want your visit disturbed by hoards of schoolchildren, time it to arrive at around 12noon, so that you will view the exhibition between the morning and afternoon groups; I did this and it was very quiet. The next part of my visit was outdoors to the Anglo-Saxon farm. There are pathways leading around all of the buildings, but I would recommend wearing shoes that can withstand a bit of mud and wet grass! The farm itself is spread over eleven acres and features a range of rare breed animals that are the closest we can now get to seventh century varieties, as well as a Saxon house and hall reconstructed from archaeological information, which I though were very impressive. I imagine this would be even more so when living history and craft displays are taking place. A recent addition to the farm is a replica Northumbrian cross made by a local sculptor, which stands on the bank facing the Tyne. Before heading down to the church and monastic site, I stopped off at Jarrow Hall for lunch. Although slightly more expensive than I would normally expect to pay, the food was really very good and the money does all go to a good cause after all! The restaurant is available to non-visitors as well, so I can recommend it to anyone in
the Jarrow area. A short walk from the museum building is the remains of the monastic site itself, now under the care of English Heritage. You can have a wander around the remains for free and go into the church that currently occupies the site (which actually has some surviving Saxon window glass), although a donation of £1 is requested. The church is part of the Bede's World site but works with Jarrow 700AD rather than being run by them. The church also has a sculpture by Jacob Epstein from before he was famous, which is worth a look in. All in all, a very worthwhile day out - allow about 2.5 to 3 hours for the full visit. ●Volunteering In common with most museums, Bede's World does depend on volunteers for getting all necessary work done within budget. Currently, the museum is recruiting volunteers for curatorial assistance, guiding visitors, assisting in the shop or on reception, working with the livestock on the Anglo Saxon farm, in the education department and for maintaining the grounds. Participants can hope to gain valuable work experience from such programmes, which look really good on your CV! Anyone interested should phone (0191) 4892106 and speak to the volunteer development officer. ●Education Programme Bede's World runs a series of set educational visits run by museum staff on monastic life, local history and the Anglo Saxon period, which cost £1.85 per pupil. Any teachers who are interested should contact the education department on (0191) 428 2361, or email firstname.lastname@example.org ●Opening times The museum is open 10-5.30 Monday to Saturday and 12-5.30 Sundays between April and October; they close an hour earlier November to March. Bede's World is open on Bank Holidays but closed Good Friday. Last admission is half an hour before closing time. ●Admission prices Adults - £4.50 Concessions and children
- £2.50 Family (2 adult, 2 children) - £9.00 UB40 family - £6.00 Museum Association and English Heritage members - free Friends of Bede's World - free (contact the museum for joining details) Pre-booked groups of 15 or more - discounted entry (contact for details) ●Contact details Bede's World Church Bank Jarrow Tyne and Wear NE32 3DY Phone: (0191) 489 2106 Fax: (0191) 428 2361 Email: email@example.com www.bedesworld.co.uk