BEDE’S WORLD, the Anglo-Saxon museum and farm celebrating the life and work of the Venerable Bede (672-735), has been saved from permanent closure.
The educational venue in Church Bank, Jarrow, was closed in February, after its management, the Bede’s World Charitable Trust, became insolvent (News, 19 February). Ownership passed back to the freeholders, South Tyneside Council (News, 4 March), who began talks with Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums (TWAM), and the charity Groundwork, in South Tyneside and Newcastle, to save the centre, and introduce new facilities to strengthen its appeal.
The new site, renamed Jarrow Hall — Anglo Saxon Farm, Village and Bede Museum, is to open in October under Groundwork’s management. Although it will continue to operate as a visitor and education centre, “interactive, family orientated” and “commercial” attractions have been added to draw in more visitors.
These include themed events, food festivals, art and craft exhibitions, and workshops. Parts of the site will also be made available for hire for weddings, celebrations, and conferences, as well as for small businesses and community groups.
The farm itself will be home to “rare breed” animals, and seventh- and eighth-century replica buildings have been erected, “based on structures excavated in Northumbria”, as a backdrop to historical re-enactments.
In July, the museum became the permanent holder of a digital replica of the world’s oldest surviving complete Latin Bible, Codex Amiatinus, which was written and illuminated in the seventh century by monks, thought to include Bede, at the Wearmouth Jarrow monastery (News, 5 August).
The chief executive of Groundwork, Andrew Watts, said that the reopening is to be “a new dawn for this well-known, well-loved and highly important history centre. It is essential that its celebration of the life of the Venerable Bede, through the museum and other educational services, remains a key element of its work, but recent history has shown that it must have wider appeal.”
The deputy leader of South Tyneside Council, Alan Kerr, who is responsible for culture and leisure, said: “There are exciting plans afoot to reinvigorate and broaden the site’s historical and educational appeal. . . New activities and events will make this a truly family oriented experience, ensuring there is something for everyone across all generations.”