St. Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle Upon Tyne

Right in the heart of Newcastle sit the historical foundations of the city. As the name of the city implies, there is indeed a “new” castle here. It was built by Robert Curthose, son of William the Conqueror, in 1080 and even by British standards I think that qualifies as “old”.

Just a very short walk from the Castle Keep is England’s most northerly cathedral; St. Nicholas.

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The cathedral started its life as a wooden Anglican parish church in 1091, but burned in 1216. It was rebuilt in stone in 1359, and named a Cathedral in 1882.

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The 196 foot tall lantern spire was added in 1448, and for years was used as a navigation point by sailors coming up the Tyne river.
St. Nicholas Cathedral


The tower has a complete ring of twelve bells, including the two ton tenor bell, and still rings for services every day.

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Dwarfed. And that’s just one small corner.


The building sits on the side of a hill, and because we came in from the higher street side, under the tower, we didn’t realize how big it actually was. When we entered, my daughter and I were both a bit stunned by the enormity of the nave and surrounding passage ways.

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The stained glass windows behind the nave are massive, and glowed beautifully in the mid-morning light.

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The interior was badly damaged during a Scottish invasion in the seventeenth century, and barely escaped being entirely destroyed during the siege in 1644. When Scottish prisoners were moved into it the invaders decided not to bombard their own people, so the church survived.

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Because of all the fires, battles and ravages of time, the inside looks very different than it did when it started, but the general layout is the same. There are still loads of artifacts from every different century and the feel of the place is still one of sacred peace, and historical grandeur.

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We spent about an hour wandering around to look at all the details before we left to go see the nearby castle keep, but could have happily spent two or three hours if we’d had time that day.

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I would love to know more about the lives of each of the people memorialized by effigies, plaques and statues.

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I would love to know more about the sculptors and artists themselves. How long did it take to carve this stone likeness? By hand?

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Who made these sculptures? How much did they cost? How much money did the family need to “donate” to the church to allow such a big memorial?

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Who taught the carvers their trades? How long did it take to learn the skill well enough to make something like this?

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And my most pressing question of all…

What is down there through this trap door? Is there a tour available?

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And would you be brave enough to take that tour?

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About akil3655

A Scotsman and his American photographer wife traveling the world and writing about it. Tales, reviews, photos, interviews and crazy goings on. Because you never know what's going to happen.

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11 Responses to St. Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle Upon Tyne

  1. TheChieftess March 9, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    What a beautiful cathedral!!! One of the things that’s always fascinated me about the cathedrals and castles in England and Europe is how long it took to build these magnificent structures! Most often, for cathedrals such as this one it took over a Century to build…Can you imagine working on the structure for a lifetime and never seeing the results???

    Thanks for visiting MammothLakesDP!!!

    • akil3655
      Twitter: kiltandacamera
      March 9, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

      I know, right?! Amazing, and so beyond what we seem to have patience for anymore. Did you ever read “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett? He wrote a great story about that very thing, along with the struggles of every day life both in terms of survival, and political corruption. Great book!

  2. Life with Kaishon March 12, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    We are happy to host and so glad that you join us at Communal Global each week Peg! Thank you! Love these images. What a grand place. WOW!
    Life with Kaishon recently posted..Life in color…and Black + WhiteMy Profile

  3. Lauren Kennedy March 12, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    Fantastic collection. Our granddaughter goes to University in Newcastle so it was fun to see something of that great City.
    Lauren Kennedy recently posted..Brandon Castle – What RemainsMy Profile

    • akil3655
      Twitter: kiltandacamera
      March 16, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

      Lauren, glad you liked the peek into Newcastle. I’ve posted other local attractions as well, and have a few more coming up!
      akil3655 recently posted..OMG, Do You Know How Old That Is?!My Profile

  4. Dana March 13, 2013 at 12:45 am #

    So beautiful! Those windows are stunning!

    Happy Tuesday. ☺

  5. Jennifer
    Twitter: jennyevolution
    March 14, 2013 at 12:48 am #

    It’s not too late to share at WW Bloggers at Hope you’ll join us!
    Jennifer recently posted..iPad Mini Giveaway – Enter to Win!My Profile

  6. Carol Carson March 14, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    Your photos did a wonderful job of portraying the grandeur and I especially loved your questions. The sculptures. Oh my.. one could spend a year researching and barely make a dent.

    • akil3655
      Twitter: kiltandacamera
      March 16, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

      Thank you, Carol!
      It’s one of the many things I love about living in a place with so much history. I love seeing so many things that are so old and hold so much history, but my history nerd self doesn’t have enough hours in the day to dig into all the research. There’s just too much!
      akil3655 recently posted..OMG, Do You Know How Old That Is?!My Profile