Hexham Abbey, situated in Hexham (Northumberland), has been the parish church of this town since 1537. However, it dates back as far as the seventh century of our Common Era (CE).
Today, its beauty stands looming over the town; an important Christian landmark and an attraction respected for its heritage and historical import.
Yellow tulips bloom infront of Hexham Abbey
In the latter part of the seventh century, around 674, Queen Etheldreda of Northumbria granted several pieces of land to the Bishop of York, Wilfrid, including the land on which Hexham Abbey stands. At that time, there was a church on the site, and Wilfrid’s Benedictine Abbey was made using the leftovers of the ruins left by the Romans. This was the seat of the Bishop for a short period. However, in 875, Halfdene the Dane destroyed much of the area, leaving Hexham Church in devastation. All that is left from this period is the Saxon Crypt, a frith stool and a throne.
Then, in 1050, the treasurer of Durham, Eliaf, was elected to care for Hexham, with the rebuilding of the church being his major task. His son completed this important job, choosing a Norman style of architecture. Wilfrid’s Abbey, as it was commonly known, soon became an Augustine Priory during the period of approximately 1170 and 1250.As structural changes were made, the building of this time took on a more Early English style. Some of the additions to the building include the choir, north and south transepts and the cloisters.
Major structural changes took place during the period of Canon Edwin Sidney Savage’s incumbency (1898 to 1919). During this time, the nave was entirely rebuilt. In 1996, St Wilfrid’s Chapel was built for those seeking solitude and a retreat in which to offer prayer.
The crypt is a popular attraction and tells some of the fascinating history of the abbey. It comprises four chambers, a chapel, an ante-chapel, two passages and three staircases. The stones that were used to construct these, all from the nearby Roman ruins, have been inscribed, giving anthropologists and historians a delightful peek into some of the secrets concealed in history.
In the 600’s, the diocese of Lindisfarne and York were merged. Then, in 678, it was ruled that there would be a seat at Hexham and/or Lindisfarne. But, this gradually merged back into the bishopric of Lindisfarne. In total, Hexham has had 11 bishops. Impressively, six of these were saints.
There are several well-known and –respected people that have been buried at Hexham Abbey. These ones include:
•Eata of Hexham
•Acca of Hexham
•Henry Beaufort (Third Duke of Somerset)
Today, Hexham Abbey is the home of a number of choirs, which produce beautiful performance in Christian praise. Some of these choirs include:
•The Hexham Abbey Boys Choir have released several CD’s, appeared on BBC Songs of Praise and have conducted several tours throughout Great Britain. Some of the members of the choir have been awarded Oxford and Cambridge college scholarships for their incredible talents.
•The Hexham Abbey Girls Choir began in 2001 and has also toured the United Kingdom as well as Paris, and appeared on BBC Songs of Praise.
•The Hexham Abbey Chamber Choir is a predominantly adult choir.
•The Triforium sings occasionally for special events.
For more information, please view: http://www.hexhamabbey.org.uk/