Jarrow in 1837
Jarrow, or Yarrow, is between Newcastle and South Shields ; the church is 8 miles from Newcastle, and 2 from Shields ; but when the tide is out a mile may be saved between Jarrow and Shields by crossing the Slake, a recess in the south bank of the Tyne, dry at low water. The parochial chapelry of Jarrow is tolerably extensive, comprehending 8,640 acres, and having in 1831 a population of 27,995. It is in Chester ward. It is divided into five chapelries or townships ; two of which, the townships of South Shields and Westoe, constitute the parliamentary borough of South Shields. Of the remaining three divisions, Harton township contained in 1831 1,000 acres and 217 inhabitants ; Jarrow, with Monkton chapelry, 3,690 acres and 3,598 inhabitants ; and Heworth chapelry 2,190 acres and 5,424 inhabitants. The parish of Jarrow anciently extended across the Tyne, and comprehended a portion of Northumberland ; but all connection with this part has long ceased.
Jarrow was very early the seat of a monastic establishment of the Benedictine order. An inscription stone states that the original church was founded A D. 685. The monastery was established A.D. 681, by Benedict, a noble Saxon, who had previously founded the monastery of Monk Wearmouth, and the fabric was completed four years afterwards. Jarrow derives its chief interest from its connection with the Venerable Bede [Beda], whose birth is fixed by an ancient and probable tradition at the hamlet of Monkton, which nearly adjoins Jarrow. In A.D. 870 the monastery was burned by the piratical Northmen, or Danes, but rising from its ruins, was again destroyed in the ravage of the country north of the Tyne by William the Conqueror, A.D. 1070. It again revived, but in A.D. 1083 William, bishop of Durham, removed the monks to Durham, and reduced Jarrow to the condition of a cell to the Benedictine monastery of St. Cuthbert there. Its yearly revenues at the dissolution were valued at £40, 7 shillings and 8 pence gross, £38, 14 shillings and 4 pence clear. The site of the monastery is near the western side of the Slake, not far from the bank of a small beck which flows into the Tyne. Many ruins of the monastery still remain, but they are so scattered and confused that it is difficult to form a conjecture as to the original appearance and the arrangements of the convent, or even to distinguish them from the remains of a lay mansion that was erected upon its ruins. The church adjoins the centre of the monastic buildings immediately on the north. The tower rises from the centre of the church, between the nave and the chancel.
The church was rebuilt, with the exception of the tower and part of the church, in 1783. The tower retains some curious Norman features. It has round-headed double lights on every side. A rude oaken seat, which appears to have been hewn out with an axe, is exhibited in the vestry as Bedes chair : the boards which form the back are modern ; the rest is doubtless very ancient. Roman inscriptions and pavements have been dug up near Jarrow, and it is conjectured, from the appearance of some of the stones, that the church and monastery were partly constructed of the fragments of a Roman building. There are large coal works at Jarrow : a row of houses for the colliers extends nearly a mile to the west of the church. The living is a perpetual curacy of the annual value of £197. The chapelry of Monkton and Jarrow contained in 1833 nine day-schools, with 289 children ; and five Sunday-schools, with 505 children.