Last Updated:

29 May 2020

Blythe's Pillar, Birtley

Birtley, Gateshead

Birtley Ln, Birtley, Chester-le-Street DH3

This is a

Church Spire

Founded in 

12th Century

Current status is



The Spire is now sat on a plinth outside of the Church of St. Joseph.

This monument of heavily worn sandstone standing on a plinth in St Joseph’s R. C. churchyard was formerly the spire of the parish Church in Chester-le-Street. The reasons for the move are uncertain, but whilst it is thought to date from the 12th century (one of the stones was inscribed with the date 1139) Mr Jack Blythe, a local brickmaker, only had it erected here in 1910. He had added a crucifix to it, but this has since been lost. The top is capped by a lead crowning cover with crosses incised around the periphery. There is both relief and incised decoration to the shaft of the pillar. The worn, weathered, and aged appearance is part of the charm of the monument, and it is quirky, characterful and curious. The decorated lead crown, which was presumably simply a practical solution to a weather problem, emphasises its ad-hoc nature. It is a surprising survival.

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