St Paul’s and the River Don

View of St. Paul’s and the river Don. 


St. Paul’s Norman Tower

The chancel of the church is Saxon, dated AD 681.
The Norman tower dates back to the 11th century.
The Victorian restoration of St. Paul’s.

In 1782 the large Saxon basilica became structurally unsafe and was replaced by an unspectacular substitute. This in turn was replaced by the Victorian restoration of 1866, when the 18th. century nave was demolished and replaced with a new nave and the additional north aisle under the direction of architect, Sir George Gilbert Scott. Repairs were also carried out at the same time to the Saxon chancel and the Norman tower.
St Paul’s church and monastic site is situated at the confluence of the rivers Don and Tyne at Jarrow in north-east England. This was the original Jarrow prior to the Industrial Revolution. Today St Paul’s is somewhat isolated and the town centre is located further west. Post WW2 housing has also led to the population being spread further afield.

The river Don flows along the south side of St.Paul’s, then curves north-east behind the church before joining the river Tyne. Today it is merely a stream but in Anglo-Saxon times the Don was a substantially sized tributary of the Tyne which it entered via a large area of tidal mudflats. The mudflats were known as King Ecgfrith’s Port ( Portus Ecgfridi ) and, at high tide St. Paul’s became surrounded by water on three sides. After the Industrial Revolution the mudflats became known as Jarrow Slake ( being derived from Jarrow’s lake) when the land was put to good use by the Victorians as a tidal pond for maturing timber. After 1972 the mudflats, which covered an area of 120 acres, underwent a process of development that would change the area’s chatacter and appearance forever. After several years as a landfill site it was solidified and made into dockland as part of the Port of Tyne.

Looking south over Jarrow Slake to St.Paul’s.
     Photograph dated 1972 courtesy of Vince Rea.