A Reflection – Newcastle’s Cathedrals

Cathedral Church of St Mary

‘Pugin’s cathedral, sits on a wide plinth opposite Newcastle’s railway station, its slender spire visible from across the Tyne. A curving flight of steps rises beneath the east end, overlooked by a 21st century statue of one of Newcastle’s favourite sons, Cardinal Basil Hume.’
(Simon Jenkins England’s Cathedrals page 169)


Cathedral Church of St Mary in the
Roman Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. Consecrated 1844

The Cathedral Church of St Mary was largely funded through the halfpenny subscriptions of the poorest people of Tyneside.

The cathedral has undergone interior reordering in the past its most recently the renovation restored much of the beauty of the original design. It also included a new organ built by Kenneth Tickell of Northampton. It also has a café and restaurant.

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852)
He had a major role in the Victorian Gothic Revival style of architecture.
He is remembered probably most for his work on the interior of the Houses of Parliament, and bell tower Big Ben, Elizabeth Tower.

Explore http://www.stmaryscathedral.org.uk under the option MORE you will find much more.


The cathedral, as with Cathedral Church of St Nicholas, are places of Christian worship and service and sanctuary in a busy city.


Cathedral Church of St Nicholas

‘Newcastle’s parish church of St Nicholas, with its eccentric steeple and elegant crown, had graced the banks of the Tyne since the 15th century. A local chronicler wrote that it lifteth up the head of majesty high above the rest as a cypress tree above low shrubs.’
(Simon Jenkins England’s Cathedrals page 169)

The Lantern steeple is 194 feet (59 metres) high.

There has been a church dedicated to St Nicholas probably since 1180. The eccentric steeple or perhaps, as the Cathedral’s History and Heritage web describes it as ‘one of the finest lantern towers in the country, dominating the skyline since the 15th century. The Pevsner Architectural Guide describes it as “Four flying buttresses leaning against each other and holding up a tall square lantern, battlemented and pinnacled – a rare form of medieval crown in Britain”. Why can’t it be the eccentric and one of the finest lantern towers’?

The cathedral web page https://newcastlecathedral.org.uk/History and heritage – directs you and gives a timeline with photographs and is worth a visit. It is also worth exploring the Cathedral Treasure on their web page for more of its medieval heritage.

Spending time on the web page can add to the appreciation of the history and life of worshipping and serving people.

Reordered Nave
At the Cathedral Church of St Nicolas.

Stained glass window, Chapel of the Ascension

Two Cathedrals which both seek to offer a sacred space where worship and a sanctuary in the midst of a often bust lives.

A prayer for our cathedrals and the people of Newcastle..

Loving God, draw us on the journey
to the places of holiness, the places of peace,
the places of encounter, the places of beauty,
the places where faith has been lived, your love made known,
your hope held out in the past, for the present, into your future. Amen

Time of reflective prayer


Pause and Reflect

Slow down, breath calmly,
Slowly breathing in and out and relax.
Lay on one side those things that unsettle your senses
and rest in the presence of God.

The Magi, singular Magus. In the Christian tradition the Magi probably came from Persia, in modern terms the region of Iran. They are seen as astrologers who were able to interpret the stars and believed they had seen a star that pointed to the birth of a king, the Messiah. They come bearing three gifts.

We join with the Chet Valley Churches to sing a traditional Epiphany hymn



Creator of the heavens,
who led the Magi by a star
to worship the Christ-child:
guide and sustain us,
that we may find our journey’s end
in Jesus Christ our Lord.

A reading from the prophet Isaiah (60.1-3)
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

A reading from Matthew – The Magi visit arrive at Bethlehem 2.10 -12
When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

Pause and reflection on the words from our readings. Read the passages again slowly pausing over words that perhaps strike accord with you.

In our prayers we welcome those who are searching for faith.

Let us draw into our circle of prayer our:
Family and Friends
Local church and its leaders
wider community
widening our circle to include:
those in government and positions of authority
those who are oppressed, those who are hungry and homeless
those who are ill, those facing death
Merciful Father, accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

When asked about how to pray Jesus gave these simple but profound words, so let them be our prayer:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name;
Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil. Amen

Closing Prayer

Adapted from Bury Mission Community Prayer (Diocese of Manchester)

Loving God,
Jesus called his disciples to seek your kingdom and follow him.
You summon us to share work of our Pilgrim Community
Open our hearts to hear his invitation to be his disciples in this generation.
Grant us courage.
Strengthen us by your Holy Spirit.
Give us compassion, wisdom and resilience.
Pour on us your endless grace that we may flourish, and our parishes grow in faith and love, service and compassion,
Through Christ our Lord. Amen

+ In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We listen to John Rutters setting for ‘We Three Kings of Orient’
From St Edward’s Church Choir of the Parish Church of St Edward the Confessor, Romford. Directed by Jonathan Venner. Organist: Alan Leach.

You may wish the finish this time of reflective prayer sitting silently and enjoying a peaceful moment or two. Enjoy these moments! God bless!

Fr. Derek Akker

(Derek is a retired Anglican Parish Priest and a member of the congregations of All Saints & St James. Prior to his ordination he was accredited as a Methodist Preacher in 1968 and served within the Methodist Church until returning to the Anglican Church in the mid 1980’s)
Parish of Kirklees Valley, Bury, (All Saints, Elton & St James, Woolfold) – In the Diocese of Manchester


Photographs in descending order
AlixChaytor- Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0
Kage ca at English Wikipedia – Public domain
Madame.evangelista – Public domain
Christopher Down – Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
Print from the United States Library of Congress – Public domain
Mike Quinn – Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0
Michael D Beckwith
Creative Commons Zero, Public Domain Dedication


Helgi Halldórsson from Reykjavík, Iceland
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0
Opening prayer from the Association of English Cathedrals
Collect -The Archbishops Council 2004