SEE US IN A NEW LIGHT
Historic Finds and Pews in the Haystack
James Thomas, the Cathedral’s Project Support Assistant, writes…
Activity associated with our National Lottery Heritage Fund project, Common Ground in Sacred Space, has been ramping up recently as the removal of Victorian pews from the Cathedral Nave has begun.
These pieces of Newcastle’s history have been lifted from their foundations, allowing us to uncover a 1955 shilling, a receipt for Stones Ginger Ale and last but not least, a bronze Victorian penny from 1885 – just a mere 3 years after we officially became a Cathedral!
Makes us wonder whether a 19th century businessman dropped this mid-prayer and it got lost in the floorboards…
The excitement surrounding the removal of pews and associated floorboards quickly turned to worry and a game of ‘Where’s the Pew’, when one of our beloved pews unexpectedly went walk-about – vanishing like a needle in a haystack! The pew in question was due to be collected later in the day; we knew it was a race against time to locate it so we didn’t disappoint the new owner!
After all the rigorous and efficient planning we’d done, how on earth could a huge 5-metre pew just fade into thin air?!
Much head-scratching and irrational searching (we even looked in a cupboard!) later, we finally discovered the answer… Lucky Pew #17 had already been collected by a removal team an hour earlier!
With a deep sigh of relief, we had to get back underway with the movement of Newcastle Cathedral’s historic pews to their new homes in the North East and beyond – to continue their legacy.
Whilst sad to remove these culturally rich artifacts, the Project is unearthing even more items!
We have tens of ledger stones within the Cathedral grounds; moving the carpet and the pews in the Nave has revealed even more – some of which have been previously hidden for over 300 years (back in the early 1700’s!). These beautiful finds are being preserved and researched by an incredible archaeology team, to provide us with a better understanding of the memorials and tributes to these people’s lives, crafts and contributions to the city and to our Cathedral.