Religion in Museums

When museums and religion collide

Beamish reconstructs a parish church

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Beamish, the big open-air museum in North East England, has lots of pictures on its website of the medieval church they are reconstructing on the museum site. St Helen’s Church, Eston, was redundant and over 15 years was steadily demolished by vandals, including the complete destruction of its Tudor stained glass. Permission for its final demolition had already been given when the museum rescued what was left. St Helen’s had a medieval chancel, a 17th century tower and an early 19th century nave. But in the 1880s a new parish church was built and the old church was increasingly neglected.

Most of the open-air museums in the UK include places of worship of some sort or other, but almost all are chapels – only St Fagans in Wales, so far as I know, has relocated an ordinary medieval parish church. See the note in Material Religion 2:2, 2006.

It will be interesting to see how Beamish restores the church’s interior, and what role they give it in the museum.

Crispin
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One thought on “Beamish reconstructs a parish church

  1. Pingback: Can A Church Become Redundant? | Highlights and Shadows

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