Newcastle Upon Tyne is home to two cathedrals, St Nicolas Cathedral is the church of England cathedral and is the seat of the bishop of Newcastle. It is found in the centre of Newcastle, just round the corner from Newcastle Castle in Newcastle’s old quarter. The cathedral is a majestic building, dating from the 13th and 15th centuries. The spire dominated the landscape and for many years was used as a navigation point for ships on the river Tyne below. Whilst I have walked past the cathedral many times I have never been inside. We have visited the back of the cathedral where the Vampire Rabbit glares balefully at it and learnt a bit about the history of the cathedral whilst on a walking tour of Newcastle with Illes tours. We finally managed to pop inside during the heritage open days. Having visited the Mining Institute we were making the walk to see the Holy Jesus Hospital when we noticed the heritage open day banners outside the cathedral. My son wanted to have a look inside so we took the opportunity. I am glad we did as it is really interesting.
Inside St Nicolas cathedral
When entering St Nicolas cathedral you immediately feel the sense of calm that old cathedrals have. There is something about the high ceilings, stained glass windows and beautiful carvings that makes you feel a real sense of the past. You can almost hear the choir singing in the peaceful atmosphere. We could have taken a tour but opted to walk around and discover the cathedral for ourselves. There is history waiting to be discovered around every corner.
The font is found near the entrance of the cathedral and is beautiful wooden font dating from the 15th century. It must have taken ages to carve. There are plenty of examples of carving though out the cathedral. The choir stalls date from the 19th century and feature carvings by Ralph Hedley.
Wandering around the sides of the cathedral there are plenty of memorials. The tomb of Bishop Llyod, third bishop of Newcastle is really impressive. There is lots of ornate decoration covering the tomb and if you look closely you can see small faces and figures hidden among the vines.
There are plenty of other memorials and grave to be found in the cathedral which are interesting to read. My son was fascinated by the stories on some of the graves telling of life in the army and navy and battles fought on foreign soil.
In the corner of the picture below you can see the Madison Memorial which celebrates three generations of the Madison family. Henry Madison and his wife are kneeling in prayer at the front and they were married in the cathedral in 1594. The family made their fortune from coal mining.
One part of the cathedral where we really lingered was the Collingwood Memorial. Admiral Lord Collingwood, who was friend and colleague to Admiral Lord Nelson was baptised and married in the cathedral. He went on to conclude the Battle of Trafalgar after Nelson’s death. His monument is a testament to the bravery of the armed forces and the flags are a reminder of battles fought in the past.
There was plenty to see in St Nicolas cathedral and much of it is a great record of the history of Newcastle. If you are passing it is well worth stopping in and having a look around. It is a fascinating place to visit.