VISITORS from the land down under made a pilgrimage this week to the home of the Venerable Bede in South Tyneside.
A party of visitors from Southern Australia toured historic St Paul’s Church in Jarrow, learning about the scholar and saint known as the father of English history.
The visit was led by the Rev Dr Dean Brookes, of the Uniting Church in Adelaide, Australia, who was making his first trip to the borough.
He said: “We are on a Celtic Christian pilgrimage, taking in parts of England and Ireland, including Jarrow, Bamburgh Castle, Durham Cathedral, Chester, York Minster and Glendalough in Ireland, once home to St Kevin.
“We are also going to spend three days on Iona. This is a three-week pilgrimage and we were keen to visit St Paul’s in Jarrow.
“This is my first time in the area, and we were keen to visit the church and Jarrow.”
Rev Brookes, accompanied by his wife Virginia, explained that the Uniting Church in Australia was formed in 1977 following a union of Methodists, Presbyterians and Congregationalists.
Jimmy Guy, the verger at St Paul’s Church, said: “We usually welcome visitors from Australia every year.
“I explain the history of St Paul’s Church and St Bede to our Australian guests and then invite them to take part in a pilgrims’ service.
“We were only too pleased to tell our Australian visitors about the rich history of St Paul’s Church and St Bede.”
The Australian visitors sat in the Saxon chancel at St Paul’s while they were told how the church and monastic site was built on land given by King Ecgfrith of Northumbria in AD 681.
Benedict Biscop founded the religious site, and the chancel of St Paul’s is a remnant of the original Saxon church, built as a separate chapel and possibly dedicated to the Virgin Mary.