Witches, plagues and a civil war thrown in

GRUESOME around Gateshead was the intriguing title of a talk given to Morpeth Business and Professional Women by Richard Stevenson.

He was introduced to the meeting by Sue Ashmore, who has recently completed two years as National President of BPW UK.

With Jo Bath, the Roman cosmetics lady, Richard is now producing a book called The Book of Days, which will highlight one particular historical incident in the Gateshead or Newcastle area over the 365 days of a whole year.

Working for Gateshead Heritage, Richard is based at St Mary’s Church, close by The Sage. He related many facts concerning St Mary’s and members learned that over the past 900 years there had been thousands of hatches, matches and despatches, four fires, one flood, one murder, three cholera epidemics, two world wars and one civil war, with the usual witches and plagues thrown in for good measure.

The final service at St Mary’s was held in 1979, after which the church closed and became a heritage centre. The fourth and final fire occurred in 1983 when the nearby Anchorage School was also destroyed, and the witch is buried near The Sage.

This was a truly remarkable history, which fascinated every member of the audience.

The next BPW meeting will be the annual dinner, to be held this year at The Beetroot Grill today.

Anyone wishing to know more about BPW and its activities should telephone 01670 514579 for more information.