After we came back from Turkey we moved to Newcastle for a month so the RSC’s season at the Theatre Royal as our final RSC push before returning to live in London after almost a year. We’ve been staying in digs in Jesmond and I love that part of Newcastle. It’s such good fun and surprisingly beautiful! But mostly I loved it because we are so close to Jesmond Dene.
Jesmond Dene is a large public park in a steep valley with the river (stream?) Ouseburn. In England, these small valleys are called denes. (*The more you know jingle*).
The park was originally owned by a ridiculously wealthy man named William Armstrong and has woodlands, crags, waterfalls, mills, pools and picnic areas. There’s also a great petting zoo called “Pet’s Corner” that has free entry!
On the west side of Jesmond Dene are the ruins of St Mary’s Chapel. It was built in the 12th century and was one of the four major pilgrimage sites in England!
People still leave their own makeshift shrines.
St. Mary’s ruins from the road.
More objects left at the ruins of St Mary’s Chapel.
A piece of stained glass that remains in the ruined wall.
A short distance from the chapel is St. Mary’s Well. During the cold weather, the warmer water bubbling up from the natural spring is said to produce a vapor cloud. Pilgrims traveling to St. Mary’s Chapel would stop and bottle some of the water for its propertied healing powers. The engraving over the well once read “Hail Mary full of grace” in latin, but only the word “Gratia” remains today.
Steps down to the well and basin.
Shrine atop the well.
Scooping up some of water.
I don’t know how “healing” the water is as Sam and I got horrible colds over the next few days.
The tunnel to cross over into the park.
And the monster that ran out of the tunnel.
Lord Armstrong’s Banquet Hall!
The best part of this walk was that we had no idea that any of this was here! We just set out on a nice afternoon autumnal walk and stumbled upon this whole amazing adventure.
Closest bridge to the mill.
The really impressive waterfall, considering it is in the city!
The mill. But the waterwheel is still there- it was really great to see that it hadn’t rotted away or been removed!
One of the many bridges.
Jesmond Dene from above.
I think Newcastle is extraordinarily lucky to have such an amazing outdoor space so close to the city center! (Although my heart will always be stolen by Hampstead Heath in terms of favourite outdoor space in a city.)