HOLY SAVIOUR'S HISTORY
The origins of Holy Saviour's Church date back to a time when the nave of Tynemouth Priory was in use as the parish church, but by the seventeenth century this was unusable. It was replaced by Christ Church (consecrated 1668) in the adjoining town of North Shields. Christ Church was enlarged in 1792.
By 1831 Tynemouth Parish consisted of 28000 parishioners and Christ Church, situated in North Shields was inadequate for the size of congregation. An ambitious church building plan created three new churches in Tynemouth and North Shields; Holy Trinity, St Augustine's and Holy Saviour's. On 6th January 1838 a plan to build a church to accommodate 1200 in Tynemouth began and the Foundation stone was laid 14th September 1839 by M Bell MP (Port of Tyne Pilot newspaper).
18th April 1841 - at 11:00am Holy Saviours opened for services (Newcastle Journal). 'Parishioners desirous of having pews' needed to apply on Tuesday 12th between 2-3pm (there are still marks where the pew name plates were fastened).
11th August 1841 - Bishop of Durham consecrated the church attended by Rev Reed Vicar of Tynemouth and Curate Rev Hill. The sermon was by the Bishop from Psalm 50 verse 23. Due to the severe state of the weather, the church was not as full as it otherwise would have been. Collection £26 (Port of Tynemouth Pilot Newspaper).
The Vicar of Tynemouth (i.e. of Christ Church) continued to be responsible for the services, although in 1846 a Curate, Revd George Latimer, who lived in Dockwray Square, was in immediate charge. On April 16th 1861 by Order in Council, Holy Saviour's was formally separated from the mother church of Tynemouth (Christ Church) and was described as 'the District Chapelry of Tynemouth Priory'. It was at this staged licensed for the solemnisations of marriages, churchings and baptism. Funerals were not mentioned , probably because there was no graveyard. The new living was given to the Revd Thomas Featherstone by the Patron, the Duke of Northumberland, on 21st November 1860.
The first wedding took place on 18 May 1861. The bride was Mary Raeburn who's father Robert was the farmer at Spital Dene Farm. The old farm house where Mary was born was opposite Northumberland Park. The Farm House became the HQ for the Golf Club until the new club house was built. The groom was John Stephenson, a Ship Store Merchant, of Grind Store Quay, Duke Street, North Shields. The wedding was conducted by Revd Thomas Featherstone and a Bible and Hymn book were presented to the happy couple. Their daughter Miss Stephenson of 52 Cleveland Road North Shields report to the local paper that she still had the said books and treasured them. This must have been reported in the press around 1920.
Holy Saviour's in 1920s
The vicars who presided over many alterations and who laid the groundwork for the Church we know today were Canon Herbert Hicks who was appointed in 1882 and Revd James Cuthbertson who was appointed in 1920. Both were responsible for major improvements. These included a much enlarged chancel and the addition of vestries and an organ loft. In 1926 the Revd Henry Henderson was responsible for the provision of the Parish Hall on Manor Road.
The church showing the new chancel, vestries and organ loft (note the new stone). Date unknown.
The spire was removed after World War II, paid for by the War Reparations Commission after the Church Council convinced them that vibrations from a nearby anti-aircraft battery had damaged it. The upper gallery seating was removed in the 1950s and replaced by a pipe organ. The building had become weathered over the years to a black stone and was cleaned and a new porch added to the West entrance in the 1970s.
The Parish Centre was added as an annex to the North side if the church. It was dedicated by the Bishop of Newcastle and officially opened by the Duchess of Northumberland on 3rd February 2006.
The Church has many fine stained glass windows which have been added over the years, many in memory of family members. In 2000, a new stained glass window to mark the millennium was added in the entrance porch on the West end of the church. This was designed by a local artist with input from the children.
Holy Saviour's continues to be a lively place of Christian worship where history is still being written, Why not come and join us and become part of the next chapter in the story.
From enquiries made by one of our reporters, it appears that the Rev. T.B. Nichols, schoolmaster, Tynemouth, was riding on his bicycle along the Cullercoats road. When about thirty or forty yards distant from Holy Saviour’s Church, he saw a man and woman struggling on the roadway. The woman was screaming, and her cries for help soon attracted a number of persons to the spot. On their approach, however, her assailant took to his heels. The woman fell to the ground, her face covered with blood, some of the civilians on the spot, taking in the situation at a glance, immediately went in pursuit of the assailant. The latter dashed through a wicket gate a few yards from the spot, where the young woman lay, and running along the footway leading to North Shields turnpike, made off in the direction of the town. His pursuers turned upon him, whereupon he turned and faced them, threatening them with a knife. The men, nothing daunted, continued in pursuit, but the man disappeared on the old railway, which skirts the Northumberland Park on that side... The woman was identified as Mary Marshall, 18 years of age, residing at Cross Street, Tynemouth.
The policeman, as soon as he arrived on the spot, instructed six or seven young men to carry the body into the vestry of Holy Saviour’s Church, where it lay for some time. The father of the poor woman appeared on the scene at this juncture, and his manifestation of grief on seeing his daughter’s dead body was painful in extreme. The sight wounded his feelings so much that he was induced to leave the spot, and he departed from the sacred edifice in a dazed condition. Inspector McKenzie and Sergeant McQueen appeared upon the scene and the body was laid on a stretcher and conveyed to the mortuary in Tynemouth Haven, where it now lies awaiting the inquest.
Eric Hollerton's book Tynemouth in Old Picture Postcards' says, 'Carved on the wall around the church is a heart and the initials M.M., said to be the work of Samuel Emery, whilst waiting for Mary Ann Marshall, whom he murdered in a jealous rage, when they met there on 23rd July 1894... Private George Emery, late of Tynemouth Castle, heard that his sweetheart was unfaithful. After writing accusing letters, he deserted, and lured her to a meeting at Holy Saviour's Church, where he killed her. He escaped the onlookers, but during the night was arrested in the street by Inspector McKenzie and Sergeant McQueen. The sergeant found fragments of a letter in a ditch, which were vital evidence at the trial."
The Mary Marshall Carving
From the SHIELDS DAILY NEWS 24th July 1894
Brutal Murder at Tynemouth
Between eight and nine o’clock last night Tynemouth was roused to a state of alarm and feverish excitement consequent upon a rumour that a horrible tragedy had been committed on the highway near Holy Saviour’s Church... The news of the murder spread like wild-fire, and in a very short while the scene of the murder was thickly peopled, the crowd exhibiting the utmost alarm and excitement.
Carving on the perimeter wall of Holy Saviour's on Broadway