May & June 2024 – Before planning your visit, please check our ‘Visitor Notices’ for accessibility updates and one-off changes to opening times. Click here to view.

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NEWCASTLE CATHEDRAL
A BEACON OF LIGHT

  • OPENING TIMES

  • Saturdays and Sundays
    8am-5pm
  • Mondays to Fridays
    8am-6pm
  • Café 16
    Mon-Sat 10am-4pm
  • FREE ENTRY

Opening times

  • Saturdays and Sundays
    8am-5pm
  • Mondays to Fridays
    8am-6pm
  • Café 16
    Mon-Sat 10am-4pm
  • FREE ENTRY

Cathedral Treasures

The interior of the Cathedral is a visual feast of stained glass, monuments, memorials, military colours and other sculptures. Each tells a story… too many to tell here.

You may want to find some of these ‘Cathedral Treasures’, using the map in our guidebook, available from the retail area.

Photos © Andrew Perkins/Jigsaw Design & Publishing unless credited otherwise.

War Memorials

Located in the North Porch and North Aisle

The Cathedral is a living memorial to those who sacrificed their lives in worldwide conflicts. Memorials include those who fell in the Boer War, the Indian Mutiny and in World War I – look out for memorials to cyclists and bell-ringers who died in the Great War.

The north aisle contains wonderful stained glass created to honour the Northumberland Fusiliers. The memorial to Brigadier James Foster Riddell shows St George and the Dragon, with the outline of the famous ruins at Ypres, the battle in which he lost his life. The colours which hang in the north and south porches commemorate a number of local regiments.

The Font

Located in front of the West doors

The 15th-century limestone font was dismantled and hidden from marauding Scottish Reformers in 1640 by stone mason Cuthbert Maxwell who had just witnessed the font at St John’s in Grainger Street being destroyed. Not brought out until many years later, it has been lovingly conserved.

The wooden canopy which hangs above is now off-centre owing to the tower shifting over time. Inside is hidden a carving of Christ crowning his mother, Mary Queen of Heaven. Robert Rhodes paid for the font: his coat of arms adorns it and his name is inscribed in the ceiling above.

Monuments

Located throughout the Cathedral

Spanning the centuries from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, the monuments in the Cathedral celebrate the lives of artists, architects, merchants, politicians, war heroes, schoolmasters, churchmen and craftsmen. Perhaps most famous is Lord Cuthbert Collingwood, who was baptised and married here
before he became Lord Nelson’s righthand man at the Battle of Trafalgar. His monument is in our North Porch.

Also look out for the memorial to John Collingwood Bruce, Victorian champion of Hadrian’s Wall, and that of 17th-century Henry and Elizabeth Maddison and their 16 children, all painted in flamboyant colours as befitted their wealthy status.

Medieval Roundel

Located in St Margaret’s Chapel

This delightful roundel contains a large single piece of glass depicting Mary feeding the baby Jesus. Dating from the first half of the 15th century, it is the only remaining glass of its age left in the Cathedral. The original site of the window from which the fragments are taken has not been identified, though it may be from the medieval east window.

The background to the image of Mary and Child and the brilliant cobalt blue edging is made up of fragments of glass from a similar period, perhaps even from the same window.

Man of Mystery

Located in St Margaret’s Chapel

Be sure to make time to view the effigy of our oldest resident, a medieval knight, . Almost thrown out by church wardens in Victorian times, then left to languish in the south transept for years, it has now been carefully conserved and simply displayed in St Margaret’s Chapel. It tells of another place and time and compares in style to an effigy in Hexham Abbey. His sword, shield and armour indicate his knighthood and the style of armour shows that he lived before 1350.

Lectern

Located by the High Altar

The rare brass eagle is the oldest lectern in northern England. Eagles are a popular lectern design because they are the symbol of St John, who begins his Gospel, ‘In the beginning was the Word.’ The lectern holds the Bible, which is always opened to the reading of the day.

Today, only 45 examples of pre-Reformation eagles remain and the Cathedral’s is one of them. In the Cromwellian period, brass eagles were often vandalised, any donation slots blocked up and, often, some of the talons cut off.

The Pulpit

Located in the Nave to the North

Sculptor Robert Beall carved the Victorian alabaster pulpit to a design by architect Robert Johnson in 1882. Four saints, Philip, Barnabas, Paul and Peter surround the pulpit, perhaps to inspire the preacher’s words. Echoing the high altar’s reredos, it is carved from Uttoxeter marble.

The Organ

Located in the Nave to the North

Parts of this organ are 350 years old! In 1676 Newcastle Corporation gave £300 for a church organ at St Nicholas’. Master maker Renatus Harris built the instrument and sculptor Grinling Gibbons carved parts of the casing. Subsequent Georgian and Victorian renovations expanded the range of sound with more stops and pedals. One of the most celebrated organists at St Nicholas’ was the renowned composer Charles Avison. He was born in Newcastle in 1709 and was cathedral organist from 1736 until he passed away in 1770, after which his son took on the role.

St George’s Chapel

Located in the North, left of the Quire

Inside and straight ahead, you will find windows dedicated to Sir Charles Parsons and Andrew Laing, both great Tyneside industrialists. In the right-hand window, look out for Turbinia, the first turbine-driven steam yacht, which is held by an angel placed above the central figure of St Christopher. The left window celebrates shipbuilding and mining. On the east wall, Northumbrian saints St Cuthbert and St Oswald are surrounded by birds and animals that are reminiscent of the Northumberland coast and Farne Islands. These windows are memorials to local men, Lord Stamfordham and Viscount Grey of Fallodon, who was a founding member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Photo © Simon Bray.

The Quire and Cathedra

Located in the centre towards the East

Ralph Hedley carved the outstanding woodwork of the quire for the Cathedral’s inauguration in 1882. It harks back to medieval times, complete with ‘misericords’ (mercy seats) for priests to perch on during long services. If you look underneath, you will find carved mythical beasts. One commentor estimated that the woodwork alone contains about 970,000 cusps besides ‘a shrubbery of crockets and a garden full of Tudor flowers – all made by hand’.

Perhaps, most of all, it is the angels on high who dominate. Legend says, Hedley used his young daughter as a model. The angles provide a glorious heavenly choir to accompany the voices of the present Cathedral Choir and to lift the worshipper to the very steps of heaven.

The High Altar

Located within the Quire

The High Altar is the Cathedral’s most sacred ritual space. Here, the priest blesses bread and wine to
represent the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, the central Christian sacrament. The lavish stonework, stained glass and rich altar cloths heighten the drama of the ritual and show how special this area is.

At the east, the reredos is made up of three levels of canopied niches in which have been placed figures of the Gospel writers and many familiar saints, including St Nicholas. A carving of an enthroned Christ triumphant takes centre place. It is made of gently translucent Uttoxeter alabaster and was carved by J.S. Westmacott. The wings are a fine-grained sandstone with elaborate filigree carving.

The Thornton Brass

Located in the East end of the Cathedral

Made in the 15th century, this is believed to be the largest Flemish memorial brass in England and is dedicated to benefactor Roger Thornton and his wife Agnes. Successful merchant and three times Mayor of Newcastle, Roger paid for the original great east window and contributed handsomely to the church.

He and Agnes had seven sons and seven daughters, all depicted here. Roger’s faithful dog hides beneath his robes.

‘Eucharist’

Located in the East end of the Cathedral

Liturgical sculptor Stephen Cox was
inspired by the monumental art of Ancient Egypt,
using Imperial porphyry and alabaster for this major
piece created in 1996–7.

Stained Glass

Located throughout the Cathedral

The Cathedral’s spectacular stained glass includes the work of a number of notable artists, including Mike Davis, Caroline Townshend, Leonard Evetts, William Wailes and Charles Kemp. Subjects range from saints to Tyneside industrialists, and from philanthropists to military commemorations. Ask one of our knowledgeable volunteers for information if a particular window catches your eye.

Pictured is St Michael slaying the dragon in the Northumberland Fusiliers memorial window.

Photo © Iona Art Glass

Crypt

Located near the organ in the North

The crypt, accessible by a small staircase, was once a charnel house used to store bones disturbed by fresh burials in the nearby over-full graveyard. It has a
gently curving 14th-century ceiling and a small
roundel window in the shape of a catherine wheel. The five small lights look out onto St George’s Chapel.

Lantern Tower

Merchant Robert Rhodes gave the money to build the Lantern Tower in 1448. At 60 metres high, its coronet design was the first of its kind, intended as the statement piece of a prosperous town. During the sixteenth century, a wax candle was placed in the tower to guide travellers across the Town Moor. It also acted as a beacon for sailors coming up the River Tyne.

Scottish soldiers almost destroyed the tower in 1644, but quick-thinking Mayor John Marlay filled the tower with Scottish prisoners so that it wouldn’t be attacked. It has been extensively repaired several times since.

Photo courtesy of Newcastle Libraries.

See below for a fascinating short film about the history of our Lantern Tower.