Wednesday 2nd. April, 2014 --- Some of the photos I took yesterday in Jarrow 

This fine sign welcomes the pilgrim to Bede's World and announces that this area, in the heart of one of England's poorest areas, was a candidate for World Heritage site status -- something it has not, as yet, achieved.


Bede's World museum was a millennium project and no expense was spared when, fourteen years ago, the centre was built and opened by the Queen.


This is the little shop for visitors. There is information about Bede and his world and some interesting craft kits encouraging the visitor to make a stained-glass window or engage in ecclesiastical tapestry.


The imposing reception area, made human by the friendliness of the staff.


This display case in inside Jarrow House, next door to the museum and used by the staff as office accommodation (and much more). Jarrow house was originally the home of the Temple family but at some stage in its later development the family who owned the house encouraged the manufacture of wooden toys to provide employment for those who otherwise wouldn't have had work. This case displays some of those toys.


Across the park from Bede's World is St. Paul's Church, the faith community part of the partnership celebrating the life and insights of the Venerable Bede. In this picture children spending a day at Bede's World are being shown around the remains of the monastery which was built on this site.



This is the Church of St. Paul founded by Benedict Biscop in AD 681 and home, for most of his life, to Bede.



A view of the little shop within St. Paul's Church. I bought two booklets about the life of Bede -- and the lady who served me was extremely helpful and welcoming.



This is looking across the modern chancel and altar into the oldest part of the Church where you can just see some of the young folk who are learning about life in a medieval monastery.



A carving of Bede which sits in St. Paul's Church.



The oldest part of St. Paul's Church going right the way back to the seventh century.



This is the entrance to Bede's World. The museum was created as a millennium project at the start of this century. It is a splendid building, purpose-built as a museum to tell both the story of Bede and to interpret his life for a modern audience.



The exterior of Jarrow House which sits right next to Bede's World and which is used as offices and to house some of the projects associated with Bede's World, including its café and radio station.

The house was built around 1785 and was the family home of the Temple family. Today it is owned by the local authority and is leased to Bede's World.



Bede's World is beautifully presented. An example of that presentation is this model setting out how everything might have looked in Bede's time.



The link with the local faith community is clearly important as this display telling the story of St. Paul's Church illustrates.



Blessed with a number of outbuildings, the staff of Bede's World have been able to provide much-needed facilities for the community. This building has been turned into an artists' studio which provides space for up to six artists and allows them to develop their talent and work through the stage from training to standing fully on their own feet. The artists using the space are obviously talented and in seeking to develop skills in this way the staff of Bede's World are both following in the tradition of Bede and the monastic world, and providing opportunities for people in an area of very high unemployment.



Another view of the same studio. I was struck by the diversity of the art which is being produced.



This is the shell of a hugely exciting project which is about to swing into action. This time next year it will house an Anglo-Saxon boat similar to those with which Bede was familiar. Jarrow is, of course, a port and boats have always played a part in its story. A year has been spent finding the right timber, a tradesman has been identified, commercial sponsorship has been found and work is about to start in earnest.



Part of Bede's World is this Anglo-Saxon village designed to give visitors a real idea and feel for what life was like in the time of Bede. So walking out the back of the museum I found myself transported back into the 8th. century. Staff wear the costume of the period and the animals in the farm which is part of the village are those which would have been here in those far off times.

What adds to the specialness of this site is that it is built on reclaimed land donated to the project by Shell. It is an excellent example of a conservation project.



From the fence to the animals themselves -- Bede would feel at home were he to walk around today. More importantly, school children on one of the many trips to Bede's World are immediately helped to understand what life was like in 8th. century England.



This is the equivalent, I suppose, of the village hall! There is a picture in yesterday's entry of the interior of this building which is used as a storytelling room. The walls are wattle and the roof is thatched and, I'm told, that it is right in period for Bede. Evidently it was built to the specifications provided by archaeologists who were quite keen that, once built, it was allowed just to fall down so that they could monitor its decay. I am so glad that the present management are continuing to restore all of these 'Anglo-Saxon' buildings so that we continue to have this window on how life used to be in Bede's time.



It was also archaeological investigations that discovered that there used to be an amphitheatre near to the monastery. As a result this amphitheatre was created with this little covered stage as part of it. All kinds of different performances are presented here some of which are totally different from anything Bede would have understood (electronic music not having been invented then)!



This cross was designed and carved by Keith Ashford in 1996-7 and was inspired by eighth century Northumbrian stone crosses such as those at Bewcastle and Ruthwell.

Behind the cross, which stands above the Anglo-Saxon village, you can see the modern-day docks of Newcastle and Jarrow.



I took this picture of Kathy and Mike while they were showing me around their Anglo-Saxon village. Mike is the director of Bede's World and together Mike and Cathy are responsible (with their large team of staff and volunteers) for making Bede's World the exciting and challenging place it is.



This picture catches two of the exciting things about Bede's World. The first is the scale of the exhibits that's self-evident from the picture) and the second is how hands-on everything is. The central display challenges children to make choices and to learn from their experience.



The two adult figures disappearing around the corner give a good idea of the scale of this figure from Anglo-Saxons times.



And again, this Northumbrian Cross is on a grand scale.



This is one of four alcoves devoted to Bede the Historian, Bede the Teacher, Bede the Poet and Bede the Scientist. Each allows the visitor to sit and listen to the writing of Bede and shows the huge breadth of his study over the years he was a monk in the monastery here.



Now we have moved into the conference room which today is being used by a school party to enjoy their packed lunches. Parties of children are a huge market for Bede's World and I was able to see at first hand the enjoyment that children gained from their time at the centre.



On the wall of the conference room I spotted this tapestry, one of many produced by a local group who come and meet in Bede's World. There is so much going on and so many skills are being taught, learned and shared.



Now we are in the radio studio -- Hive Radio -- and yes, I did see real bee-hives on site as well. The radio station is an internet radio station which broadcasts live for about twenty hours each week and has been running for fifteen months. Some of their programmes are music based, others talk about the work of Bede's World, perhaps about the charging points for electric cars in their car park, perhaps about their weaving, spinning and calligraphy groups, perhaps about the story of Bede, perhaps about their plans for the future. They have a wonderful story to tell.

The staff member responsible for the radio is completing a degree in broadcasting -- an example of the commitment of Bede's World to staff development. It is very much a people-centred place.



And finally, their café where people meet and talk over a cup of tea or coffee -- and again this provides employment and training in an area where both are certainly required.

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