Newest Review: ... presentation on the other side of the next doorway. Though Bede is best known as the author of the 'Ecclesiastical History of the En... more
Bede's World Museum
Bedes World (Newcastle)
Member Name: collingwood21
Bedes World (Newcastle)
Date: 01/12/01, updated on 01/12/01 (219 review reads)
Advantages: New building, Has had a lot of investment in it
Disadvantages: Off the tourist routes, Quite far from the nearest Metro
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.
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)
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!
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.
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.
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 email@example.com
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.
Adults - £4.50
Concessions and children
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)
Tyne and Wear
Phone: (0191) 489 2106
Fax: (0191) 428 2361
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