Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead. Originally published by Mackenzie and Dent, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827.
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ST. THOMAS' CHAPEL.
No records exist of the foundation of the chapel of St. Thomas the Martyr. From the circumstance of its being dedicated to St. Thomas a Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, it must have been erected posterior to the assassination of that prelate, which took place in 1171. It is first mentioned when the Tyne Bridge was burnt in 1248. Robert Valesine, in 1255, gave an annual rent to the support of Tyne Bridge, and to a chaplain, to pray for the souls of his father, his late wife Emma, and his own soul, in this chapel of St. Thomas the Martyr. In 1269, one Lawrence was keeper of the Tyne Bridge and of this chapel. These offices were often united in one person, to facilitate the collection of alms and benefactions.
There are deeds of a rent-charge, payable to the keeper of the chapel and bridge of Tyne, dated 1311 and 1349; and in the escheats, 1370, several rents occur for the reparation of this chapel. In Hilary term, 1408, before the king, it was determined by the verdict of a jury, that three acres of land called Sandy-ford Flatt, with a wind-mill below Jesmond, near Newcastle upon Tyne, were not held of the king in capite, but of the keeper of the chapel of St. Thomas the Martyr on Tyne Bridge. Roger Thornton, by his will, dated 1429, left six fothers of lead to the reparation of this chapel. In 1445, the Earl's Inn of Northumberland, in the Close, was held in burgage, and paid 20s. per annum to this chapel.
Chantries.—William Heron. in 1329, founded a chantry in this chapel, dedicated to St. Ann. Its yearly value, at the suppression, was £4, 17s. arising from tenements in the Sandhill. Richard Softeley. clerk, was the last incumbent. There was also in this chapel a chantry dedicated to St. Mary, the founder of which is unknown. Its annual value was £5, 2s. 6d. out of five messuages in the Close and the Side, John Littell was the last priest, and had been presented by the mayor of Newcastle for the time being, and Christofer Therkeld, patrons. By an inquisition taken at Gateshead. October 6, 1536. it appeared that Roger de Thorneton gave three acres of meadow, and three acres of land in Whickham. to a chantry in the chapel of St. Thomas, on Tyne Bridge, without licence of the bishop of Durham.
In the 9th year of the reign of king James I. this chapel was, by a royal charter, annexed to the hospital of St. Mary Magdalen. (See page 145.) (fn. 1)
MASTERS OF ST. THOMAS' CHAPEL.
William Spynn was master and keeper of Tyne Bridge in 1347 and 1352. (fn. 2)
John Crofte appointed by the corporation in 1426. (fn. 3)
John Brandlyng, clerk, appointed August 30, 1538. (fn. 4)
Robert Jennison, A. M. confirmed June 12, 1611. (fn. 5)
Henry Ridley, A. M. (afterwards D. D.) succeeded September 21, 1786. (fn. 6)
This ancient chapel of Thomas à Becket was, in 1732, beautified and pewed; and on Sunday, September 10, in that year, the magistrates went to it with the usual formalities, it being then set apart by the corporation of Newcastle for a chapel of ease to the church of St. Nicholas. In 1770, the west end of the chapel was pulled down; and after the angle was rounded off, to widen the entrance to the bridge, it was rebuilt with brick, in a motley manner. After being curtailed a second time, to widen the north avenue to the bridge, it was opened on Sunday, February 17, 1782. On this occasion, part of the chapel was rebuilt, and the other part chipped over. At the east end a cross was put up, which gave great offence to rigid Dissenters. It is calculated to hold about 300 hearers.
It is now finally determined to pull down this chapel, the Tyne Iron Company's warehouse, and the offices of Messrs. Nichol and Ludlow, which will render the entrance to the Tyne Bridge safe and commodious. A range of shops and offices will be erected to front the street behind the spacious warehouses of N. Clayton, Esq. The new chapel is to be built in the Magdalen Meadows, near the Barras Bridge, a situation singularly beautiful and convenient. The mayor and common council have evinced both taste and spirit, by adopting a design done by Mr. John Dobson, architect, which combines all the unity, harmony, and elegant lightness of proportions, which render the early English style of architecture so peculiarly attractive. The arches are to be acute: and the windows will be of a narrow oblong form, pointed like a lancet, and simply decorated: the buttresses prominent, and surmounted with crocketted pinnacles. All the other constituent parts will display a chaste uniformity of design and ornament, which will render the structure an excellent specimen of this order of architecture, before the introduction of that redundance in embellishment which gradually deprived our sacred edifices of that impressive air of solemnity invariably cultivated in the early ages.
This chapel is intended to accommodate twelve hundred persons. The cost of building (exclusive of the ground, which, of course, costs nothing) may amount to about £4500. The present master has offered to give up his salary for a stated time, the corporation is expected to give a sum equal to the value of the scite of the old chapel, and also to contribute liberally to the new building. The sale of pews in the new chapel will likewise produce a considerable sum; and if the generous offer which is understood to have been made by some public-spirited gentlemen, to aid the execution of this superb design by a private subscription, be generally imitated, the sum required will be raised without difficulty.
It is also proposed to pull down the remains of the old hospital of St. Mary Magdalen, and the adjoining public house; likewise the steam saw-mill and work-shops of Messrs. Brown and Son; and to build a neat row of stone-fronted dwellinghouses behind the north side of Vine Lane, and extending from Northumberland Street to the east limits of the hospital grounds, on the margin of Pandon-burn. This airy and pleasant row of houses will be opposite the new chapel, the grounds around which will be carefully preserved by neat inclosures.
ST. ANN'S CHAPEL.
THERE exists no account of the origin of this chapel. After the Reformation, it was neglected and fell gradually into decay; but the corporation, in 1682, repaired it. A lecturer was then appointed, who was to preach every Sunday morning, and expound the Catechism in the afternoon, for which he was to have £30 per annum. (fn. 7) A new gallery was built in 1710. The present chapel was built by Mr. Newton, architect, with the stones of the old wall which formerly ran along the Quayside. It is a plain, neat, and spacious structure, with a light steeple and a good clock; and was consecrated by Bishop Trevor, September 8, 1768. The consecration sermon was preached and published by Dr. Faweitt. St. Ann's is a chapel of ease to All Saints'. It is advantageously situated on a gentle declivity above the Shields road, a little to the east of Sandgate.