History and Heritage

Newcastle Cathedral is rich with historical meaning. From the Middle Ages to the present day it is a place where the stories of local people can be found. From the early civic leaders and industrialists to politicians and craftspeople, the Cathedral holds the story of the City in its stones and monuments.

Visitors and worshippers alike can enjoy a fulfilling and emotive heritage experience in the Cathedral. There are so many interesting features to be found inside, whether this be in the superlative craftsmanship of the reredos carvings, the modern stained glass above the entrance to the crypt, the earliest piece of medieval glass in St Margaret’s Chapel or the Regimental Colours whose final resting place is the Cathedral.

The Cathedral is Grade One listed and dates back to the early 12th century soon after Newcastle Castle was built by Robert Curthose. These two impressive structures, high above the River Tyne, and together representing Church and State, formed the focal point for the growth and development of one of the country’s busiest medieval towns and inextricably link the heritage of state power, spirituality, and commerce.

As a medieval church, with the Castle representing the state on its doorstep, and a thriving market town all around, it had a very significant part to play in the town and many chose to be remembered here. Its 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 of our monuments commemorate such people including some from County Durham who preferred to be remembered here.

Following substantial extensions in the 14th century, the Cathedral was in much the same form as it is now – and recognised as one of the most significant and largest parish churches in England. Aesthetically, it boasts one of the finest lantern towers in the country dominating the skyline since the 15th century.

Internally, the Cathedral contains one of the largest collections of monuments and ledger stones of any Cathedral in England. It also boasts medieval heraldic bosses, a fine wooden font cover with elaborate Gothic tracery, a superb collection of 19th and 20th century stained glass, and other outstanding examples of local craftsmanship such as the wooden screens and choir stalls which were carved in medieval style by Ralph Hedley in the mid-19th century prior to the building becoming England’s most northerly Cathedral.

Whether you live or work in Newcastle, or visit from farther afield, we hope that you will feel very welcome here.