Hexham Abbey

HEXHAM ABBEY, dedicated to St Andrew, is one of the earliest surviving Christian foundations in Britain and for much of its history has reflected two very different Christian lifestyles: the enclosed community of men living by a monastic rule and the open community of the faithful who come together regularly to share in acts of worship. Built in 674-8 as a Benedictine monastery, a centre for the spread of the Christian faith and place of pilgrimage, by the formidable Wilfrid, bishop of York, it almost immediately became a cathedral church when the huge see of York was divided into four in 681 – much to Wilfrid’s disapproval – and Hexham became a bishopric. Wilfrid’s monastery was damaged by Viking raids in the 9th centruy, when the church was handsomely rebuilt as both a monastic and a parish church. Serving solely as a parish church after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, it was again substantially restored and rebuilt in the 19th and early 20th centuries to create the impressive and dignified building we see today.*

Hexham Abbey

Built on a spur of land looking east across the Tyne valley just below the point where the North and South Tyne rivers combine, the church was one of the first to be built of stone, on a magnificent scale and possibly to a Roman-style basilica plan which was unique in Britain at the time and could well have been inspired by Wilfrid’s travels. Wilfrid’s follower and biographer Eddius Stephanus described its ‘crypts of beautifully dressed stone, the vast structure supported by columns of various styles and numerous side-aisles, the walls of remarkable height and length… we have never heard of its like this side of the Alps.’*

Hexham Abbey

Hexham Abbey

Hexham Abbey - The Night Stair

*From the Hexham Abbey guidebook

16 Comments CherryPie on Nov 19th 2015

16 Responses to “Hexham Abbey”

  1. Amfortas says:

    One marvels at the skill and vision of the people of the day. Those old Catholic forebears of we British bequeathed more than just stone monuments.

    • CherryPie says:

      The early Christian Saints are a great inspiration :-)

      Jesus endured great suffering to share the ‘truth’ in his teachings. A call for all Christians to follow and ‘know’.

      The skill and vision of the people of the day are a testament to those teachings.

  2. Chrysalis says:

    The “formidable Wilfred?”

    Wilfred does not sound like a very formidable name, but I suppose he must’ve been, nonetheless ;)

    Well, I love the hallowed halls where the formidable Wilfred lived and worshiped, anyway. What acoustics Hexford abbey must have – I would love to hear Gregorian chants there :)

    And my compliments to the photographer – I shall henceforth dub thee, “Cherie the Light Worker” – due to her ability to capture light well, both in photography and life :)

    • CherryPie says:

      I think Gregorian chants would sound wonderful in there. I have seen a photograph (somewhere) of the choristers lined up on the night stair.

      Thank you :-)

  3. Astrid says:

    Talk about architecture here and wonderful symmetry. I think it was a joy to walk the grounds here. Short of eyes, that is for sure.
    Have a great weekend.

  4. Ginnie says:

    “One of the earliest surviving Christian foundations in Britain.” That alone would make me want to visit it, Cherry, but looking at the images…definitely a must for one day.

  5. lisl says:

    Now this is is somewhere I have been years ago, and I would love to see more pictures if you have some to post, Cherie

    • CherryPie says:

      I have a few more to show. The lighting wasn’t great for taking photographs on the day we visited. All the more reason to find time to go back :-)

  6. ....peter:) says:

    This is a wonderful presentation of Hexham Abbey… i like the warn tones of the rich wood and your framing of the arches and timber ceiling Cherie!

  7. james higham says:

    The majesty.

  8. The mezzanine area is so unsual.