New book reveals history of St Hilda’s Church

Alan Newham with his book on St Hilda's Church.
Alan Newham with his book on St Hilda's Church.
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A new book delving into the history of the iconic St Hilda’s Church in South Shields looks set to be a hit with the town’s history buffs.

Written by amateur historian and archeologist Alan Newham, the book entitled ‘Abbess Hilda’s First Religious House,’ reveals the history of the church from its origins in 647 up to present day.

The original site  of the church by Graham Hodgson.

The original site of the church by Graham Hodgson.

Mr Newham said: “This is my first book which came out of the research I did for the exhibition ‘A Church For All Time’ at the church a few years ago.

“It has taken my three years to complete and looks at the origins of St Hilda’s Church. I am not religious myself, but I am interested in the history of the architecture and archeology of churches.”

He added: “As part of my research, I spoke to experts at Durham University’s archeology and history departments, as I wanted to make sure I had got it right.”

The 69-year-old, from Lawe Road, South Shields, said the book - which is self-published - features illustrations by South Shields artist Graham Hodgson.

The original site opf St Hilda's

The original site opf St Hilda's

It is on sale for £3 AT the church - which stands at the Market Place in South Shields.

The cash raised will go towards church funds.

In the book it looks at how Rev Henry Savage, vicar of St Hilda’s in the 1890s, put the case for the church having been sited on the original land gifted to Hild in AD 647.

It also looks at the important role it played functioning as a place of worship and as well as a community hub.

Bishop Aidan showing Hilda the land which is now the site of Saint Hildas church by Graham Hodgson

Bishop Aidan showing Hilda the land which is now the site of Saint Hildas church by Graham Hodgson

Mr Newham, who is a member of numerous societies including The Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne; The Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland and the Council for British Archeology, said he was pleased with the book.

He said: “What is interesting is that 647 was the year for the establishment of Hilda’s first religious house, meaning it would pre-dates the twin monasteries of Monkwearmouth in 674 and Jarrow in 685.

“I think the book will be interesting for the people of South Shields who have seen many buildings going up and down in the town but have always had the one constant of the church.
“The church plays a big part in the town’s history and shouldn’t be forgotten or taken for granted.

“If people want to know about the history of their town, they should read it.”

Alan Newham with his book on St Hilda's Church.

Alan Newham with his book on St Hilda's Church.

The book is also available by emailing: alannewham47@gmail.com

Alan Newham with his book on St Hilda's Church.

Alan Newham with his book on St Hilda's Church.

St Hilda's Church in October 1941 after a bombing air raid.

St Hilda's Church in October 1941 after a bombing air raid.

St Hilda's Church, South Shields.

St Hilda's Church, South Shields.