Heritage Open Days: Historic building offers up its secrets as St Nicholas Church in West Boldon takes part in festival of history

One of South Tyneside’s oldest and most fascinating buildings is offering up its secrets to visitors of all ages as part of a celebration of our historic treasures.

Your chance to walk inside centuries of history.
Your chance to walk inside centuries of history.

St Nicholas Church in West Boldon dates back to Anglo-Saxon times, though has seen much change since, with elements of the various chapters of its life visible in its historic walls.

Visitors can learn more about its long history and standing in the community when the Grade I-listed building joins thousands of sites across the country in Heritage Open Days, a festival of history and culture.

Reverend Paul Barker, Priest-in-Charge of the church in Rectory Bank, said: “We are really excited to be taking part in this event and hope it will be interesting and fun for all the family.

(l-r) Brenda Horton, Julie McCann, Paul Barker and Carl Baker, who are helping organise the Heritage Open Days event at St Nicholas Church in West Boldon.

"We are really proud of our heritage in Boldon and our church, which dates back to the 8th Century, plays a big role in the history of our community.”

Heritage Open Days run from September 9 to September 18 this year, and are back in full swing after the pandemic put paid to many planned events over the past two years.

The festival is an opportunity to visit hidden places and try out new experiences, all of which are free to explore.

The team at St Nicholas will be welcoming visitors on Saturday, September 10.

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The beautiful stained-glass windows at St Nicholas date back to Victorian times.

Mr Barker said the church is of historical interest. A great deal of the original Saxon stonework is still visible, but the majority of the structure is medieval and dates from the 13th Century.

“The windows were all enlarged in the late Victorian period, so all of the beautiful stained glass dates from that period,” he said.

The church also charts the history of the area and its people, including through difficult and tragic times.

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There are several memorial tablets commemorating the fallen of the Boer War and the two World Wars.

Elements of the church date back to Anglo-Saxon times.

A memorial tablet also traces the Rectors of Boldon back to the 13th Century.

Mr Barker added: “We are pleased to be giving visitors an opportunity to explore this special and sacred place, I often speak to people who have lived locally for years but have never set foot inside so this is a great opportunity to come and look around.”

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Speaking about the role of the church in the community, he added: “This church is here to serve and welcome everyone in our community, it is open for all.”

The Heritage Open Day event at the church on September 10 runs from 10am and 4pm, when the doors will be open and volunteers on hand to answer questions.

St Nicholas Church in West Boldon.

Visitors can also light a candle for a loved one.

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The team were keen to make the day fun for everyone, so for children there will be a special trail around church to learn more about the building.

They can also have a try at ringing the ancient church bells – under close supervision from the team.

To find out more about Heritage Open Days please visit www.heritageopendays.org.uk

St Nicholas Church.