If the walls of historic Bede House in Monkton Village could talk what an amazing story they would tell.
The Grade II-listed property dates back to 1495 and is believed to the second oldest inhabited building in South Tyneside – the oldest is the neighbouring Grange Farm.
In bygone years it has had some illustrious owners, including the British Whig politician Cuthbert Ellison, who also owned Hebburn Hall.
Today the stone built three-bedroom cottage is under the proud ownership of Diane and Mark Thurston, who are now planning a sensitive conversion of a former stable area into a large family-size kitchen.
Internally the property retains many period features, including beamed ceilings, period fireplaces with wood and gas burning stoves and flagged floors giving a distinctive olde-worlde appearance.
Diane said: “It is like stepping back in time. It’s a bit like living in a holiday home that you know you have to hand back.”
That’s not something the couple are planning to do.
Diane added: “It has so much character, so much history and Monkton Village is a lovely, friendly place. We feel so lucky to live here.
“We’re never going to leave it and there is a lifetime of work ahead of us.
“The chimney is leaning and needs sorting, there’s wood to be replaced. It all costs money and we’re no longer mortgage-free, but it’s a privilege to be able to do it.”
First on the agenda is the dismantling of the former stable wall, for which the couple are still awaiting building consent.
Diane added: “We’ve been told the wall is set to fall down in a matter of months, which is a bit disconcerting when you are sleeping in the bedroom above it.”
But one myth surrounding the cottage can be dispelled – that the famous Venerable Bede, after which it is named, once lived there.
Diane added: “Gladys in the corner shop says Bede was from around here, but he lived a few centuries beforehand.”