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A BEACON OF LIGHT
What’s in a name?
Have you changed your name from St Nicholas’ Cathedral to Newcastle Cathedral?
St Nicholas remains the patron saint of the Cathedral. We’re simply reusing a shortened version of the title given to St Nicholas Parish Church in 1882 when we became the cathedral church serving the Diocese of Newcastle and housing the seat or ‘cathedra’ of the Bishop of Newcastle.
It is common practice for Church of England cathedrals to refer to themselves publicly using the name of the Diocese they serve: for example, our Anglican brothers and sisters on the River Wear are officially The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham (serving the Diocese of Durham), but are more commonly referred to as Durham Cathedral.
Like Durham, the ‘Newcastle’ in Newcastle Cathedral refers to the name of the Diocese which the Cathedral serves and is not a specific reference to the city, despite being located in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne. The Cathedral’s Vicar also takes the Diocesan title ‘Dean of Newcastle’, as does the Diocesan Bishop, the ‘Bishop of Newcastle’.
Why the new emphasis? Aren’t you re-writing history?
Previously St Nicholas’ Parish Church, we were elevated to cathedral status by Royal Charter on 25 July 1882; the same day that Newcastle upon Tyne became a city.
Just prior, on 23 May 1882, the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle came into being and was one of four new dioceses to be created for industrial areas with rapidly expanding populations. The area of the Diocese of Newcastle was taken from the part of the Diocese of Durham which was north of the River Tyne.
Prior to 2018, The Cathedral Church of St Nicholas Newcastle upon Tyne was one of the only Anglican cathedrals in England not to outwardly identify itself consistently using the Diocesan name.
Since 2018, and encouraged by senior church folk and local political figures, we have increasingly used the moniker ‘Newcastle Cathedral’ to help attract visitors from further afield, thus increasing charitable donations and enabling the Cathedral to better serve our communities and congregations.
What about good old St Nicholas?
All cathedrals have a dedication (i.e. a saint or saints which they are dedicated to). We are still formally The Cathedral Church of St Nicholas Newcastle upon Tyne, and are England’s only cathedral dedicated to St Nicholas, the 3rd century Bishop of Myra and the inspiration for ‘Santa Claus’.
We honour and celebrate this unique dedication in numerous ways. Inside the building are various depictions of St Nicholas – including stained glass windows from the 19th and 20th centuries; an icon by Aidan Hart, gifted to the Cathedral in 2005, and two statues: one of which stands above the great west doors.
On or around 6 December each year, we hold a special service marking the Feast of St Nicholas.
Are you in danger of upsetting or offending St Mary’s Cathedral?
Without taking into account the cathedral which is St James’ Park, Newcastle upon Tyne is blessed with two other cathedrals – aforementioned St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral (near Central Station and the Centre for Life), which serves the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, and St George and St Athanasius Coptic Orthodox Cathedral (Fenham Road), which serves the UK Northern Coptic Community.
What happens in other cities with two or more cathedrals?
Some English cities have both an Anglican cathedral and a Roman Catholic cathedral. Here again, Anglican cathedrals take the name of the diocese in which the serve, for example: Manchester Cathedral (The Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Mary, St Denys and St George), Norwich Cathedral (The Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity), Portsmouth Cathedral (The Cathedral Church of St Thomas of Canterbury) and Liverpool Cathedral (The Cathedral Church of Christ in Liverpool).
What should I call the church?
We fully appreciate and respect the fact that many people will know us and continue to refer to us as St Nicholas’.
If you would like to speak further about any of the topics addressed on this page, please contact us via: email@example.com