A FAMOUS monastic site has officially been nominated by the Government for World Heritage Site status.
The twin monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow, which includes St Peter’s Church, Sunderland and St Paul’s Church, Jarrow, will receive a massive tourist boost if granted status, putting it on a par with existing sites such as Durham Cathedral, the Great Wall of China, the Tower of London and the Taj Mahal.
It is hoped a successful bid will draw thousands more visitors to the late Seventh Century monastic attraction and boost the regional economy.
A central part of the bid is the life and work of famed medieval scholar the Venerable Bede, who spent his life at the monastery.
The bid has been submitted by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Unesco will now examine the bid and make a final decision next year.
Mr Hunt said: “The twin monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow, looking out on the North Sea coast, had a profound influence on learning in the Middle Ages and played a huge part in the emergence of European identity. The outstanding library and teaching assembled at Wearmouth-Jarrow by founder Benedict Biscop was unlike anything else available in its day and became the primary intellectual centre of Western Europe.
“The monastery’s cultural reputation owes much to the work of the well-known scholar Bede, a member of the community, born locally, whose writings helped establish England’s identity.
“Parts of the monastic churches that are still in use today date from Bede’s lifetime.
“I want to thank the bid partners across Sunderland and South Tyneside and all the people and organisations that have worked hard to develop the nomination document.
“I’m delighted to give the twin monastery my full support in its bid for World Heritage status and hope we are successful in securing another World Heritage Site in the UK.”
THE Bishop of Jarrow, the Right Reverend Mark Bryant, is chairman of the Wearmouth-Jarrow Partnership.
He said: “The submission of the nomination of the twin monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow for inclusion on the World Heritage List is a massively significant milestone in more than a decade’s partnership working.
“The organisations and communities responsible for this historic site have put an enormous amount of work in to seek recognition of Wearmouth-Jarrow as a World Heritage Site, to celebrate the vision and drive of its founder, Benedict Biscop.
“He created a remarkable, forward-looking centre of learning, creativity and international cultural exchange. The new architectural ideas and monastic plan he introduced can still be seen at the sites today, and through the legacy of Bede, his vision lives on.
“I am delighted to celebrate the submission of the nomination to commemorate this great cultural institution.”