Past, present and the future will come together this Sunday when a renowned South Tyneside tourist attraction re-opens to the public. (WIN A PAIR OF UNLIMITED PASSES, ENTER BELOW)
Jarrow Hall, Anglo-Saxon Farm, Village and Bede Museum – based on the former Bede’s World site – will welcome its first visitors on Sunday, October 23.
The date coincides with school half-term holidays, and it is hoped the venue will be swelled by families looking to mix learning with leisure for the perfect day out.
Now managed by communities’ charity Groundwork South Tyneside and Newcastle (STAN), its attractions will be remodelled in planned phases over the coming months to herald in an exciting new age.
New Culture and Heritage Operations Manager Leigh Venus, 36, former venue manager of Newcastle’s historic and much-loved Tyneside Cinema, said: “This site is of regional, national and international renown, it’s really quite special and we intend to make it a great success.
“It has so much to offer so many different people – from past supporters who desperately want to see it thrive, to families and schoolchildren on visits or academics who can benefit from studying its unique artefacts.
“We need the public to support us by visiting often and enjoying what we have to offer all year-round. Together, we have a real chance to do something here that is quite outstanding.
“We want each visit to be memorable so that people come back time and again, always finding something new and interesting to enjoy, so we are planning year-round activities and events for all to support this, and are already looking four to five years into the future.”
The Church Bank attraction’s focus will remain the life and times of seventh century scholar the Venerable Bede. This will be achieved through an existing Bede Museum and Anglo-Saxon farm – home to a collection of rare breed animals – and reconstruction settlement.
An impressive new museum feature is the addition of a replica of the Codex Amiatinus, the earliest surviving manuscript of the nearly complete Bible in the Latin Vulgate, originally produced in the double monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow. Only the second full-sized reproduction in the world, this is an internationally-important object for researching academics, as well as a beautiful work of art for visitors old and new.
But to ensure Jarrow Hall, Anglo Saxon Farm, Village and Bede Museum, is financially viable in the long-term, Groundwork STAN plans to add commercial attractions. These will include artisan work spaces and offices for hire to creatives and small businesses, alongside dedicated facilities for conferences, weddings and other celebrations.
A new generation of visitors will also be engaged through innovative education programmes and diverse community events.
Groundwork STAN is also working to transform Jarrow Hall, a 17th Century Georgian mansion in the venue’s grounds. Work has started to turn its ground floor into an attractive café, and first floor rooms are being adapted for multiple activity use.
The site could also become home to a creative community who will celebrate the arts through rolling artistic exhibitions and creative workshops. And it will be promoted as an educational facility, offering school visits and training opportunities for young people and adults.
Academics and historians will also be encouraged to use its facilities, with archaeological dig training, public lectures and more among possible future projects. To ensure the site retains its focus on history, Groundwork STAN has engaged with Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, and is open to working with other similar organisations.
Companies, organisations and individuals are also being asked to support the re-opening by taking part in volunteer days.
Andrew Watts, Chief Executive of Groundwork STAN, said: “This is an exciting time for all involved in re-establishing this venue as an important centre of history.
“We want to create an attraction that appeals to a wide range of people, such as academics and historians, children on school visits, mums and dads for family outings, or those who just want to see something different and interesting.
“The site will continue to focus on the life of Bede, but I hope people will be impressed by the plans we are putting in place to guarantee the long-term viability of this wonderful venue.”
Councillor Alan Kerr, Deputy Leader with responsibility for Leisure and Culture, said: “It is great news that Jarrow Hall will be opening its doors to the public again under new management and I am confident that this will herald a whole new era for the venue. The range of events will appeal to both young and old alike – and importantly secure the future of this valuable attraction.
“With The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, also opening this month, South Tyneside is clearly the place to be to enjoy a cultural experience with a difference. I am certain that both facilities will prove to be tremendous assets for the borough.”
On its first day Jarrow Hall, Anglo Saxon Farm, Village and Bede Museum will be open from 10am to 4pm, with half price entry AND an autumn craft and food fayre 10am – 3pm.
Full details of its attractions, activities, opening times and prices, will be made available over the coming weeks, and dedicated website will also soon launch.
People interested in taking part in the volunteering days should email firstname.lastname@example.org
More information at www.jarrowhall.org.uk