Jarrow Hall has secured £99,863 from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund delivered by national membership organisation the Museums Association. The grant will safeguard the legacy of Bede and change the way museums interact with their communities.  for a project which may become the basis for a pioneering new model of engagement for museums.

The Esmée Fairbairn fund is targeted at those who develop collections for social impact and in this case the money will be used to run a project called ‘A New Sun’.

Jarrow Hall’s owner, the community charity Groundwork South Tyneside and Newcastle (STAN), is convinced this project will not only safe guard the historic archaeological collection showcased on the eleven-acre site but could also become a new model of engagement for the museum sector, with the project showcasing new ways for other museums to reach out and truly enrich the lives of their local communities.

Leigh Venus, Culture and Heritage Manager for Groundwork STAN and responsible for the direction of Jarrow Hall said: “We’ve said from the start that we would make our site – and the beautiful Bede Museum within – a place of international significance, and our ‘New Sun’ project is a hugely powerful step towards that goal.

“We’re committed to enriching lives through culture and heritage, securing the future of our collection and bringing the fascinating story of Bede and Anglo-Saxon Northumbria to whole new audiences for years to come.”

He added: “The project name ‘A New Sun’ was chosen as it comes from a quote late in the 9th century from influential monk Notker the Stammerer, highlighting the high esteem Bede was held in then. It also represents a new dawn at Jarrow Hall – the beginning of a new era for the collection and how it is used to tell the incredible story of the history of our area and its continued impact on the world today.”

The project will see Jarrow Hall using its historic collection to fulfill the mission Groundwork STAN – to change places and change lives through its communities work.

“We’ve secured this funding so its early days but I can tell you that we are delighted as the Esmée Fairburn Collection Fund is very competitive, and only those with exciting and genuinely ambitious projects with a demonstrable social impact are successful,” said Leigh.

“The ‘A New Sun’ project is scheduled to start in 2018 and run for 18 months and will work through the entirety of the unique historical collection held at the site protecting the work of archaeological digs led by Dame Professor Rosemary Cramp begun in the 1950s.”

Dame Professor Rosemary Cramp said: “The fact that all this is now being supported in such a wonderful way through grants such as the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund is testament to the hard work put in by Groundwork, and it will really make a difference for all those who benefit from having such a culturally significant site here in the heart of the region.

“Bede’s life at Jarrow and Wearmouth was entirely spent in the north-east of England far away from the great Christian centres of the world. Yet here he had the resources of a great library and wide-ranging contacts which made him the master of the major subjects of his age, and indeed, as has been claimed, ‘the teacher of the whole Middle Ages’.

“Today his works are still a matter of debate and research throughout Britain, Europe and the USA. In his lifetime, this area of Tyne and Wear was one of the great cultural centres of Europe, and, in the site buildings and the displays in the museum here we can catch a unique glimpse of that world.”


Well known BBC broadcaster, bestselling author and respected academic Dr Janina Ramirez said: “This award is incredibly welcome news to everyone who has been concerned about preserving the wonderful resources at Bede’s home. As England’s first historian, and one of the greatest minds of the Early Medieval period, it is vital to provide visitors with a rich and immersive experience when they visit Jarrow. This funding will help preserve the unique heritage of Jarrow, a site that was a vibrant cultural hub in a time people often called a ‘Dark Age’.”

The project will see a comprehensive and thorough cataloguing and archiving of the Jarrow-Wearmouth collection – including new ways to access the collection digitally, physically safeguarding the many valuable artefacts and documents for future generations.

Engagement with the community is the other significant element, enabling schools, community groups and the general public to truly understand the historical context of such an important site and the works of Bede to the cultural fabric of the North East and the world beyond.

“Groundwork South Tyneside and Newcastle’s ethos is to enrich the lives of the local community in a sustainable way cutting across economics, social issues and the environment. Jarrow Hall and the special collection we are privileged to protect is an amazingly powerful asset to achieve these goals – and this new project represents a key element of our broader strategy,” said Leigh.

Groundwork STAN plans to undertake a research development programme in early 2018 to develop and inform the project. These will include public engagement and educational work which draw on Groundwork’s understanding and experience of community engagement.