St Peters Church is a truly vital part of the history of Sunderland packed full of incredible arcitecture, priceless artifacts and rich culture. Here is everything you might not know about Sunderlands oldest church.
If you are a local history fan, or know a lot about the cities origins then you might already be aware of these facts. However, I didn’t know them before going and researching the church which is why I wanted to write and post about it!
Disclaimer: Please do not go and visit these sites while we are under lockdown restrictions. I am posting these things for you to use to plan future days out.
It is one of the oldest Churches in the country and with that, the oldest in the city of Sunderland. The church was built in 674CE which makes it over 1300 years old! It is also the oldest of the three early settlements that later became the City of Sunderland as we know it today!
See also, Sunderlands Heritage and Where to Experience It
Buy one Saint, Get one Free
There were not one but two famous local saints associated with the church. It was infact local saint Benedict Biscop who helped build the church and during his time there he welcomed Venerable Bede through the monestary doors who was just 7 at the time. There is a whole load of information about the two saints here.
After the King of Northumbria King Ecgfrith granted Benedict Biscop the land to build it, he started bringing craftsmen over from rome to build St Peters. Among those were glaziers, craftsment and masons. The stained glass elements made for the church at the time were the first stained glass windows in the UK. It is thought that the entire craft of glass making was brought to the region as a result of the church.
Much of the original buisling is no longer standing, only the west wall and porch area remain. However the church is a Grade 1 listed site.
Its got a sister
Seven years after the Church and monestary was built here, Biscop went to Jarrow to help build a second chuch which he wanted to be a sort of extention to St Peters. St Pauls as it was named joined with St Peters to become the Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Abbey. St Pauls is now a part of English Heriatage and you can find out more information about it here.
A key part of monestary life was the scripture it produced. Afterall, Bede himself became a reknowned scholar at the time. One of its most famous pieces of writing is the Codex Amiatinus. This text is the latin vulgate which was a version of the bible used by the Roman Catholic Church. The copy from St Peters is the earliest surviving copy of that text today. Writing started in 692CE and because of its size, and of course the fact that it was hand written, it took a while for it to be completed.
Later, this copy was gieft to the Pope of Rome and is now on display in Florence, Italy, in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana. You can read all about it here!
The church itself is incredibly beautiful and well worth a visit when it is safe to. Even if you, like myself, are not a religious person, it is clear to see that this site has played a vital role within the history of Sunderland and is very much imbedded into the foundations of this city.
Thank you so much for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed learning a little about the history of St Peters Church. I you enjoy my blog posts that do feel free to drop your email address below to be notified of any other posts I put out. And give me a follow on my other socials.
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