It is the house of the Anglican church in this part Newcastle and continues its work of welcome, worship and witness. St Giles was a seventh century monk who, legend has it, saved a hind from a hunt and impressed the king with his holiness. He founded a monastery, the Abbaye de St Giles. His feast day is 1st September when there was traditionally a St Giles Market and revelries in the town
The Church Building
The present church is the fourth or possibly the fifth built on this site. The marks of previous roofs can be seen on the tower wall inside the church. The tower is the oldest structure in Newcastle and dates from 14thcentury
The present building dates from 1873 and was designed by the pre eminent Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert Scott whose many works include St Pancras Station in London.
On entering the building you will immediately get a sense of the scale of the church with its soaring arches, its length and height. The architect achieved a sense of lightness, however by the use of light stone which contrasts with the darker sandstone of the walls and mouldings
The eye is automatically drawn to the great east window depicting the Crucifixion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The window was given by the Mellard family.
Each of the pew ends is carved with a different motif. The front pew on the right hand side looking towards the altar has the coat of arms of the Borough carved on it. This is the seat of the Mayor when he or she attends St Giles in their official capacity. The wrought iron work is to support the maces, the original, highly decorated, wrought iron stands can now be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London
The Lectern represent a pelican – not an eagle as is more usual. It is a medieval carving which was mounted to form a lectern when the new church was built. You will see the pelican feeding its young by piercing her breast and giving them from her own blood. This is intended to symbolise Christ’s sacrifice for us. Look for a brass plaque with the
inscription, ‘Sic Christus dilexit nos’ ( Thus Christ loved us)
Altar and reredos
The High Altar was made and donated to the church in 1876 by John Gallimore, the reredos behind it was presented in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. The picture in the centre represents St John witnessing to the truth of scripture and you will see symbols representing the Lord’s Supper. Side panels feature the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer.
In the sanctuary you will see the Borough’s Book of Remembrance of those killed in the World Wars
The reredos in the side chapel represents the Last Supper and was given to commemorate the lives of those lost in the Second World War. It was originally designed to replace the reredos behind the High Altar. The stained glass above the altar represents Christ’s ascension into heaven the other window shows the Annunciation – the Angel Gabriel visiting Mary.
The windows and monuments in the church record the lives of many of the town’s citizens.
As you enter the church you come through the church hall. This was constructed in the 1980’s in the body of the church to create a space for social events, meetings. A weekly preschool play group is also held in the hall as well as a coffee morning and mini market every Friday morning which is open for all.
The main service at St Giles is at 10.30 on Sunday mornings (with activities for children). There is an 8.00 o’clock service on the second and fourth Sundays of the month. There is a weekly service of Holy Communion on Wednesday’s at 1.10pm.
A more detailed history of the church is available for you to purchase if you require further information.
Rev Peter Nisbeck, Team Vicar