Born and bred in Jarrow and having always lived here, it isn’t biased to say the North East is very special indeed. I know it to be true!
The pride of my life is representing the Jarrow parliamentary constituency, including other parts of South Tyneside and Gateshead, as a home town Labour MP.
How much I love the people and our area’s wonderful history was brought home at a lovely service at St Paul’s at Church Bank as part of the Jarrow Festival ‘Medieval Fayre’ celebrations.
The event celebrated the 1300th anniversary of the Codex Amiatinus, the earliest surviving Latin Bible and one of the most important medieval manuscripts in the world.
Three of these Bibles were transcribed and illuminated at Wearmouth-Jarrow monastery all those centuries ago and taken to Rome in AD 716 as a gift from Abbot Ceolfrith to Pope Gregory II with the sole remaining intact copy housed in Florence’s Laurentian Library in Italy.
To show we’re as creative now as then children at South Tyneside and Sunderland schools created a modern leather bound version which left St Peter’s in Monkwearmouth to go to Rome where it’ll be received by Pope Francis and put on permanent display in the Vatican.
I can think of no greater tribute to the ingenuity and ability of our young people or better showcase for our region’s rich and important heritage. Jarrow was the home of St Bede or the Venerable Bede as he is commonly known, author of the ground breaking ‘Ecclesiastical History of the English People” which is really the first History of England.
Bede’s work – taking in commentaries on the Bible and observations of poetry, nature and music – is world famous and shaped European culture as well as our own land.
Wearmouth-Jarrow, the twin Anglo-Saxon Monastery centred around St Paul’s Church in Jarrow and St Peter’s in Sunderland, is one of the world’s most important historic sites. Here on our own doorstep!
So important in fact it was the UK’s nominated site for World Heritage Status. Although unsuccessful, the nomination itself acknowledged how historically important Wearmouth-Jarrow is not just locally or even nationally but internationally.
That’s why it was such a tremendous disappointment to me when our local Bede’s World museum – which celebrates the life and times of Bede – had to close its doors earlier this year. The outcry from people both from the region and outside of it said a great deal about how valued and loved Bede’s World is.
And it’s why I’m delighted a solution has been found which means Bede’s World will re-open to the public soon. A precise time has yet to be unveiled but I’m informed the process is moving forward and we should have a date soon. Then once more people locally and from across the globe will be able to visit the museum and enjoy the history we Jarrovians feel so rightly proud of.