Things to see
In his book England’s Thousand Best Churches (Penguin Books, 2000), Simon Jenkins wrote: “Few churches in the North of England equal the spectacular interior and monastic relics of Hexham.”
There has been a church on this site over for 1300 years since Queen Etheldreda made a grant of lands to Wilfrid, Bishop of York c.674.
The Saxon crypt and apse of Wilfrid’s Benedictine abbey still remain. In Norman times Wilfrid’s abbey was replaced by an Augustinian priory, and the church you see today is mainly that building of about 1170-1250, in the Early English style of architecture. The choir, north and south transepts and the cloisters, where canons studied and meditated, date from this period.
The east end was rebuilt in 1860 and the nave, whose walls incorporate some of the earlier church, was built in 1908.
In 1996 an additional chapel was created at the east end of the north choir aisle. Named ‘St Wilfrid’s Chapel’, it offers a place for prayer or quiet reflection.
In 1537 Henry VIII took away the Abbey’s monastic buildings, but in 2012 these came back into the possession of the Abbey. They are now the home of our permanent exhibition, The Big Story, bringing the history of the Abbey to life through the inspiring characters who shaped its development over the ages.
As you walk around Hexham Abbey there are many sights to marvel at, including some rare cultural and historical artefacts. Take your time, drink in the unique atmosphere and enjoy the experience!
Descend the steep steps into the Anglo-Saxon Crypt, the oldest part of Hexham Abbey. Here lie rooms and passageways left intact from Wilfrid’s original church.
Sit on the Frith Stool which stands in the middle of the Choir, a Saxon bishop’s throne dating from the 7th Century. Perhaps Saint Wilfrid had it made after he founded the first monastery here in about 674.
Touch the cool stone of a Dark Age Cross commemorating Acca, Hexham’s second Bishop.
Trace the steps of the monks who used the Medieval Night Stair, 35 age-worn stone steps that rise from the south transept, leading to a broad gallery behind a stone parapet. The monks’ dormitory used to be beyond the gallery, and they would use these stairs to access to the church for their nightly prayers. This is the only remaining Night Stair still in daily use.
Enjoy the vibrant colours of the stained glass windows. When the sun is shining, the light plays wonderful jewelled patterns on the Abbey pillars and walls.
Admire the fine condition of the painted 15th Century screen showing the images of seven Bishops as well as macabre scenes from ‘the dance of death’.
See the Hexham Chalice, a tiny copper and gold gilt goblet used by Anglo-Saxon missionaries to celebrate Holy Communion, this chalice is the centerpiece of our exhibition, The Big Story.
Hexham Abbey, A Panoramic Virtual Tour Use your mouse to change the view, and move by clicking the blue arrow.