December 2023 – Before planning your visit, please check our ‘Visitor Notices’ for accessibility updates and one-off changes to opening times. Click here to view.
A BEACON OF LIGHT
Collections and research
The Cathedral’s superb collection of monuments and ledger stones (grave covers dating from the 1560s to the 1800s) derive from the significant role that the medieval Church of St. Nicholas played in the town’s development. The Cathedral’s history and heritage are inextricably linked with the merchants and industrialists who dominated the country’s wool and coal trades, the latter fuelling the Industrial Revolution and, in the early post-medieval period, making Newcastle the third most important town in England after London and Bristol. Many chose to be remembered here.
The Cathedral holds a prominent position in the history of the region which has been a cradle of Christianity, a site of Anglo-Scottish border conflict, a significant Civil War battleground and an industrial powerhouse. It had a pivotal role in the history of the English Civil War as the temporary home and year-long place of worship for Charles I, following the siege of Newcastle in 1644. The monuments and ledger stones memorialise many of the region’s leading historical figures and relate to significant events, including Admiral Lord Collingwood, second in command to Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Other Cathedral Collections
There have been bells in the Cathedral Tower since the 1390s. There are currently twelve bells that are rung regularly. The large bass bell called ‘The Major’ weighs nearly six tons.
Brass eagle lectern
Standing proudly near the crossing is the only pre-Reformation lectern in the north of England.
Chapel of the Northumberland Fusiliers
The Cathedral is the ‘chapel’ of the Northumberland Fusiliers and when flags are renewed, the old ones are displayed in the Cathedral. 29 colours or flags from a number of local battalions and regiments hang high on the walls.
Stained glass collections
The oldest fragment of our stained glass collection is Madonna and Child in St Margaret’s Chapel. Through the work of our community history research volunteers, we are increasing our knowledge of the ledger stone collection.
Cathedral art works include
- A dramatic painting of George and the Dragon which sits above a memorial to Brigadier James Foster Riddell who was killed in 1915 in the Second Battle of Ypres. The painting is by Dutch war cartoonist, Louis Raemaekers, who was commissioned to paint this iconic scene by Riddell’s widow.
- Nicholas Myneer’s sculpture of Christ
- Stephen Cox’s two piece sculpture disc and ellipse (1997)