Saturday saw the much anticipated return of the Northumberland Provincial Priory Church Service after a two year hiatus.
Knights, in full regalia, along with their wives and partners, from around the Province gathered at Hexham Abbey, as part of the Annual Meeting, to join in celebration. In addition it was the first time that those Knights who received Great Priory honours could get together, in an official capacity, to show off their finery.
Hexham Abbey is one of the earliest seats of Christianity in England. Since its beginning, it has witnessed periods of immense turmoil and change, across the region and within the English Church itself, many of which are reflected in the very fabric of the building today.
There has been a church on the site of the Abbey for more than 1,300 years, since Queen Etheldreda made a grant of lands to Wilfrid, Bishop of York c.674. Of Wilfrid’s Benedictine Abbey, the Saxon crypt and apse still remain.
There have been additions made every century since Hexham Abbey was first founded. The oldest part is the Saxon crypt from 674 and the east end was rebuilt in 1860 to a John Dobson design, and the nave, whose walls incorporate some of the earlier church, was rebuilt in 1908.
During 2014, building work was completed on the £3m restoration of the medieval monastery complex at the Abbey to create a major visitor exhibition, function rooms and community meeting spaces. This is one of the most significant events in the Abbey’s life, and it reunites all the buildings on site for the first time since the Reformation, when the monastic complex was removed by Henry VIII.
Since the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1537 the Abbey has been the parish church of Hexham and today is a centre for worship and witness to the Christian faith. The oldest of the 10 bells was cast in 1742. The youngest two were installed for the Millennium.
After the service all present then attended Hexham Masonic Hall to avail themselves of a buffet luncheon and it was agreed that a very enjoyable day was had by all.
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