Wearmouth–Jarrow Abbey in Northumbria was one of Europe’s leading centres for education and culture in the 7th and 8th centuries. The original monastery was founded in AD 684 by Bishop Benedict Biscop. Conservation has preserved the site. It is now one of the best understood religious Anglo-Saxon sites in England, having been excavated extensively.
The larger of the two churches was rebuilt by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the 1860s. The original church was demolished after falling into disrepair. The remains of the larger church lie under the nave, protected by English Heritage.
St Paul’s Monastery is a rebuild of the original larger church. Scott redesigned the nave and north aisle slightly, joining the chancel with a tower. Other than that, it is an accurate rebuild of the original church using original materials wherever possible. The rebuild is next to the old site, with an original monastery wall leading along the front.
Of the church we see today, only the chancel and base of the tower are Anglo-Saxon. The rest of the build is Gothic. Scott built a new nave and north aisle, which as far as we can tell is not unlike the original in terms of layout.
The interior is typical of medieval architecture. Walking in through the front entrance, an archway guides you into prayer. The exposed roof trusses have exceptional depth, highlighted by large stained-glass windows. Exposed stonework gives the interior a genuine character. Of the windows, the three tiny openings on the south wall are Anglo-Saxon. The rest are Gothic. There are Anglo-Saxon doorways to the north and south.