Beamish Open Air Museum

1128 Reviews

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Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

August, 2018

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Travelled with

On your own

Reasons for trip

St Helen’s Church is typical of many country churches found throughout the North East. It has been moved to the museum from Eston, on the edge of Middlesborough. In the C19th this was a thriving mining area.

The first church was built in the C12th although only part of the west wall survives from that time. The chancel is C15th and the short squat tower is C17th. The nave was rebuilt in 1822 with funds raised by subscription and selling of box pews. Owning a box pew being a sign of status in the community and the name of the owner can still be seen printed on the side of the pew.

By the end of the C20th the church was no longer needed and was suffering increasing attacks of vandalism and becoming unsafe. There were plans to demolish the church before the museum stepped in and moved it to Beamish.

Now set on the slope below Pockerley Old Hall, it looks as if it has been there for ever.

The inside of the church has been restored to its 1822 appearance with box pews and whitewashed walls. All lighting was by candles from chandeliers. Across the back wall is a small wooden gallery reached by a wooden staircase. This is was used by the church musicians in the days before the church had an organ. Above on the west wall is the Royal coat of arms.

The stone font looks to be a survivor of the earlier church. A small cast iron stove provided some heating in the cold winter months.

A small arch leads into the chancel with its bare stone walls. On either side of the chancel arch are boards with the Lord’s Prayer, Creed and Ten Commandments. These had to be displayed in all churches after the Reformation, although few now survive.

Off the chancel is the vestry, with desk for the vicar and church records.

Below the church is a small stone building housing the horse drawn hearse.

This is one of a series of “reviews”: I have written about Beamish

A full account with all my pictures can be read “here.”:


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