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New guide released to historic South Shields church

Alan Newham with his guide to St Hilda's Church.
Alan Newham with his guide to St Hilda's Church.

An amateur historian and archeologist has released a guide to an historic church in South Shields in a bid to encourage more people to delve into its past.

Alan Newham, 70, has written the guide called ‘A Guide to the church of Saint Hilda South Shields’ based on his research into the historic building over the years.

Alan Newham's guide to St Hilda's Church.

Alan Newham's guide to St Hilda's Church.

Mr Newham, from Lawe Road, South Shields, spent a year working on the project, which he hopes will help people understand the important role the church played in the town’s history.

The 30-page guide covers the early history of the church - which dates back to as early as the 12th century - alongside key points of interest.

Mr Newham said: “It is definitively the most comprehensive guide the church has.

“The church was crying out for a guide that would cover the most interesting objects and things to see when in the church.

Alan Newham's guide to St Hilda's Church.

Alan Newham's guide to St Hilda's Church.

“But not only that, I think South Shields is a changing town, with buildings coming down and going up.

“I think people get a sense that change is in the air and nothing stays the same, so I think its is important to remind everyone that there are places in the town that are constant.

“St Hilda’s Church is a prime example of such a building as it has been a constant for almost 900 years - that we know of.

“My aim is to keep reminding people that the town has a great history, not simply the ship building and the mining - as important as they were in forming the town - but there is the history that goes way back, perhaps to the early medieval period.”

Alan Newham's guide to St Hilda's Church.

Alan Newham's guide to St Hilda's Church.

Mr Newham has also written a book on the church called ‘Abbess Hilda’s First Religious House,’ which revealed the history of the church from its origins in 647 up to present day.

The first book came out of his research for the exhibition ‘A Church For All Time’ at the church a few years ago.

He also used some of his research from the book to form part of the guide, which also features drawings.

Mr Newham is a member of South Shields Local History group, and is on the management committee of All Together Archeology.

He added: “I hope that the guide will remind people that the church is there and that you don’t have to be religious to go, because it played an important part in the history of the town and should be recognised as such.”

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.