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Monkwearmouth Priory

In 674, Benedict Biscop brought stone masons and glaziers from Gaul to found a monastery on the banks of the Wear. A few years later, the sister house of Jarrow was similarly founded at the mouth of the Tyne. After the Norman Conquest, Monkwearmouth was re-founded as a small priory dependent on the powerful Durham Cathedral Priory.

Grimm's drawing shows the appearance of the nave before its Victorian reconstruction. Also recorded is the east range of medieval monastic buildings demolished soon after the drawing was made. The Norman archway on the right perhaps marks the entrance to the chapter house. All that survives more or less unchanged today is the church tower, which was formed by heightening a 7th-century western porch during the late-11th century.

"This venerable edifice, which is dedicated to St. Peter, is of very ancient foundation, but little now remains of the original structure except the western porch and part of wall. The church has undergone frequent repairs and alterations. Towards the close of the eighteenth century, lamentable want of taste was displayed in the removal of the thirteenth century arcade, and in the erection of unsightly galleries. The church as it now stands may be described as consisting of nave, chancel, north aisle, with short transept and north porch.
The Church formerly possessed a chantry, dedicated to St. Lawrence, which was founded here in 1220 by one of the Hetoif family, to whom the living formerly belonged".

Extract from 'History, Topography and Directory of Durham', (1894).

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