Historic church takes visitors to the past with medieval fair

(C) Keith Blundy / Aegies Associates
(C) Keith Blundy / Aegies Associates
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A CHURCH which is older than Durham Cathedral is giving today’s worshippers a glimpse of life in the past.

St Giles’ Church, in Gilesgate, Durham City, is celebrating its 900th anniversary after welcoming its first congregation in 1112, at least 10 years before the cathedral.

The church is marking nine centuries at the heart of community life with a medieval fair next Saturday.

“The event will make the point the church has been serving the community for 900 years,” said church curate the Reverend Dr Julia Candy.

“It will be there for the next 900 years. It will always be there.

“The fair is a chance for people to see what stayed the same in that time and what has changed.

“For example, there is now a woman in a dog collar and services now take place in English, rather than Latin, a language few people would understand today.

“The fair is about helping people realise the church is not just about the clergy, but about the whole community.”

Brewing is one activity people of all ages understand and the fair will feature a medieval bar selling St Giles 900 Label, a beer brewed to mark the anniversary of the church.

Archaeologist Lousia Gidney will be bringing her Rent-a-Peasant show which depicts a peasant’s life and possessions.

“I will be bringing chicks and my mule,” said Frances. “Animals were a big part of everyday life for a peasant.

“I also do spinning which helps people make the connection between animals and community life.”

There will be a chance for visitors to try on chain mail and a knight’s helmet, archery, an arts and crafts fair, a hog roast, and a working blacksmith.

The fair is open from 10am to 5pm on Saturday, September 8. All are welcome.

Twitter: @sunderlandecho