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 17a. (2) Hexham Abbey

The main architectural features of the Abbey, stone carvings, painted panels, tombs, stained glass windows etc.

See also 12. Hexham (1) A historic market town in Northumbria

Hexham Abbey Church: The fine building of Hexham Abbey from the south. It was originally a Benedictine Abbey, then an Augustinian Priory and the Parish Church of Hexham after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1537. Hexham Abbey has been a place of Christian worship since AD 674 (St Wilfrid) and remains the spiritual centre of the town in its continuing role as a parish church.

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Hexham Abbey at Christmas!

Hexham Abbey: Some of the stonework of the original Hexham Abbey buildings (part of original west part of the nave of the 12th-15th?) is set into now is referred to as the Monastic Workshop which functions as a tearoom in the summer months!

 

The exterior of the west end of Hexham Abbey

 

Looking northeast across what were the cloisters. The south wall of the nave on the left and the west wall of the south transept on the right.

 

The south transept and tower of Hexham Abbey.

 

Hexham Abbey: The crossing and tower of Hexham Abbey (exterior from the south and interior looking into the north transept)

Outside or inside, Hexham Abbey is a magnificent piece of mainly medieval architecture.

 

Hexham Abbey: The upper triforum and clerestory of the north transept of Hexham Abbey. Much of the architecture of the present building dates from the12th, 13th and 15th centuries.

 

Hexham Abbey: The upper triforum and clerestory of the nave of Hexham Abbey

 

Hexham Abbey: The magnificent 13th century North Transept.

 

Various views of the architecture of the north transept of Hexham Abbey.

 

The magnificent architecture of the north transept of Hexham.

The North and South Transepts of Hexham Abbey

 

The North Transept of Hexham Abbey.

 

Looking across the chancel from the south aisle to the north aisle of Hexham.

 

Details of the south aisle of the chancel of Hexham.

 

Details of the upper part of the east side of the crossing and the north transept of Hexham.

The arcade columns and stained glass windows of the north transept of Hexham.

 

Hexham Abbey: View of the north transept from the top of the 'night stairs'.

 

Looking down across the crossing into the north transept of Hexham, complete with Christmas tree.

 

Hexham Abbey: At the foot of the 'night stairs' is the stone effigy of Flavius, a Roman soldier and standard bearer, a sculptured piece of stone that is a reminder that the first church of St Wilfrid in AD 674 was partly built of stones from the 'vacated' Roman buildings nearby.

A Pict being crushed by the Roman soldier.

 

Hexham Abbey: The beautiful architecture of the North Transept from the top of the famous 'night stairs'.

 

Hexham Abbey: The well-worn night stairs down which the monks came to worship from their sleeping quarters. It must have cold in the winter as the canons made their way to worship from their sleeping quarters on the upper floor. This rare surviving staircase is still used today by the members of the choir and visiting choral groups.

 

Hexham Abbey: An 'angled' view of the North Transept showing clearly the triforum and clerestory windows.

 

Hexham Abbey: The chancel and choir. The 16th century painting above the high altar and on the left is a large painted oak panel and to the left of the High Altar is Prior Leschman's 15th century chapel with its wonderful carvings (see bottom of page).

 

Hexham Abbey: The high altar, painting and east window

 

Hexham Abbey: The elaborately designed rood screen below the organ - viewed from inside the choir stalls. The wooden vaulting of the medieval carpenter matches and simulates the work of the stone masons. The Rood Screen is a magnificent piece of woodwork by Thomas Smithson, Prior from 1491 to 1524. The paintings on it depict The Annunciation and The Visitation, 16 portraits of the Bishops of Hexham and Lindisfarne and other prelates.

The organ and rood screen, beyond the choir, chancel and altar of Hexham.

 

On either side of the passage way from the Hexham Abbey's crossing, through the screen to the choir, are two lovely medieval paintings (above and below).

 

 

Hexham Abbey: A view of the north aisle of the Quire from the choir stalls.

 

The arches dividing the chancel and choir from the south aisle of Hexham Abbey.

 

Hexham Abbey: From the crossing, looking through the rood screen into the choir and beyond to the high altar. The organ was built in 1974 by Lawrence Phelps and Associates of Pennsylvania, USA.

 

Hexham Abbey: On the crossing side of the rood screen are a series of painted medieval panels depicting ???

 

A general view of the painted panels on the north side of the chancel in Hexham (detailed images below)

 

 

 

Hexham Abbey: The entrance to St Wilfrid's 7th century crypt.

 

Hexham Abbey: A Roman Latin inscribed stone in the nave.

 

Hexham Abbey: A decorative stone from part of the early medieval Abbey buildings, now in the nave.

 

Hexham Abbey: Looking down the north aisle of the chancel and choir.

 

Hexham Abbey: Looking west down the Nave, which was rebuilt on the foundations and lower walls of the medieval building in the early 20th century.

 

Hexham Abbey: The cover is Jacobean (incorporating wood from a 15th century cover), but the font base is medieval (Early English) and the baptism bowl might of Roman origin ie the base of a Roman pillar?

 

Hexham Abbey: Some of the interesting carved figures and faces  on the north side of the Prior Leschman Chantry Chapel.

More detail of these wonderful carvings of lively figures (human and animal) in 3 more pictures below.

 

Further enlarged images of these interesting stone carvings of human figures and strange animals are shown below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

?

 

Left and right: Military insignia, earlier and later 20th century stained glass windows

 

Another of the splendid 'modern' stained glass windows of Hexham.

 

Hexham Abbey: The tomb of Thomas of Tyndale, an early 14th century knight dressed in mail (his feet rest on a lion) and there are three sheaves on his shield.

 

Hexham Abbey: The tomb of Baron Sir Gilbert de Umfreville (1245-1307), a member of the Anglo-Norman family who built the nearby Prudhoe Castle in the Tyne Valley not far from Hexham.

 

Hexham Abbey: On the north side of the chancel is great painted screen of oak. Beneath the carved canopies are medieval paintings of seven Hexham bishops who became Saints. Beneath these larger panels are four smaller ones representing the Dance of Death. In the lower tracered panels are faded paintings of Our Lord, The Blessed Virgin and the Twelve Apostles.

 

In the chancel of Hexham, the altar and painting (see below  for details)

Above the altar is the 16th century painting of the Holy Family and shows the infant Jesus meeting John the Baptist.

The painting is quite striking when viewed against the backdrop of the wonderful architecture of the east end of Hexham Abbey.

 

Hexham Abbey: Some of the fine stained glass windows

 

Hexham Abbey:

Left: The stone Frith Stool lies between the old carved choir stalls. It was originally this seat was the Bishop's throne and allowed sanctuary to fugitives in medieval times.

Right: The Saxon (questionable?) chalice found in a stone coffin in the north transept. It is probably a small Anglo-Saxon chalice used with portable altars to take the sacrament of the Eucharist to outlying hamlets and other local communities which had no good access to a church.

 

Hexham Abbey: The medieval-Early English misericord carvings of the quire stalls

The 1st picture shows the seat itself, and the 2nd picture is an enlargement of the 'under-seat' carving - the misericord, this is followed by eighteen other examples. Quite a series of amazing 'puzzling'? and beautiful carvings.

Hexham Abbey: misericord carvings of various head, 'mythical' creatures etc.

 

'A curious hieroglyphic Bible' in Hexham. It is believed to be the work of the engraver John Bewick (1760-1795)


The Museum and Cafe in Hexham Abbey

The old monastic buildings on the west side of the original cloisters have been opened up to act as a museum display centre and the 'Refectory Cafe'!

The old monastic workshops on the left, which is the west side of the old cloisters and on the right is the small building to connect the west end of the nave with the museum and cafe.

The original arched stone vaulting can still be seen in the visual display room

The 'star' of the museum are the following series of Passion paintings

The history of these paintings on wooden panels (you can see the joints) is not known, but they date from the early 16th century. The Passion paintings were badly damaged and were restored in 1963 and 1990. There are nine panels, one is missing, but I have taken more than one detailed image of some of them. The paintings depict the suffering of Jesus before his death, known collectively as 'The Passion of Christ'.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hexham Abbey Museum - left: The carved stone of part of the Spital Cross from the 8th century AD, depicting one of the earliest Anglo-Saxon sculptures representing the Crucifixion

Hexham Abbey Museum - right: An inscribed Roman altar dedicated to Maponos, a Celtic god of youth and love.

 

Hexham Abbey Museum - left: A 3rd century AD Romano-British sculpture of a figure draped in a toga, it may have been part of a tombstone or a decorative stone carved frieze.

Hexham Abbey Museum - middle: A Viking-age cross shaft with delicate interlace, dating from the 10th or 11th century.

Hexham Abbey Museum - right: Part of an 11th century cross head decorated with a simple interlacing pattern.

 

Hexham Abbey museum - stone sculptures

18th century carved man's head and a monster from ?, mimicking medieval stone masons?

 

 

Beyond the museum is the Hexham Abbey 'Refectory Cafe'.

 


See also 12. Hexham (1) A historic market town in Northumbria

and 17b. Hexham (3) The Abbey - other features

and A walk from Corbridge to Hexham

 

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