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The Hearse House is now lime washed!

Cos and Paul have been busily working away to lime wash the interior of the Hearse House with a little help from our Buildings Team Assistant, Shannon



It was common for most vernacular buildings of the period to have lime washed interiors due to the antibacterial properties of lime wash. This would be especially true of a functional building such as the Hearse House, particularly with its association with the deceased.

hearse house lime wash

Now the interior is complete, the building is ready for the collections to be moved in. These objects have been selected to help us to accurately tell the story of life for working people in the Georgian North and illuminate the character of the church sexton who would be charged with digging the graves and overseeing the handling of the dead. Once the objects have been installed, the building will be ready to welcome the 1820’s hearse which is currently in the Beamish workshop for conservation and restoration work.

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Well done Paul!


Last week Paul completed an amazing challenge – spending five nights sleeping rough in the doorways of Beamish’s  1900 Town Street to raise money for the People’s Kitchen. The People’s Kitchen in Newcastle offer support for the city’s homeless community, providing vital things such as food and sleeping bags, most importantly friendship. Unfortunately, sleeping outside without shelter is a daily reality for many people, and Paul hoped that this Christmas he could help them in a small way. He has certainly done that raising an amazing £1,616!

Merry Christmas from the Buildings Team and everyone at Beamish!

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Paul Marron’s charity sleepout

Between the 12th and 16th of December Paul Marron from our Buildings Team will be giving up the comforts of a warm bed and central heating, as he will be spending each night sleeping rough in the doorways of Beamish Museum’s Town Street.




He is braving the wintry weather to raise money for the People’s Kitchen, a Newcastle-based charity who support the city’s homeless community by providing vital things, such as hot meals and sleeping bags. More importantly, the People’s Kitchen offers friendship and care for some of Newcastle’s most vulnerable people.


Paul Marron Sleepout at Beamish Museum (5).JPG


Please help Paul’s cause by contributing whatever you can. Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.



Paul Marron Sleepout at Beamish Museum (3).JPG


Paul would also like to thank Beamish Museum for their support.

Thank you and Merry Christmas!

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The Hearse House is finished

We have now completed the build of the Hearse House at St. Helen’s Church in our Georgian area.


The Hearse House at St. Helen’s Church



The stone slab roof is now on and has been weather-proofed using a tradtional method known as ‘torching’. This involves adding a coat of lime pointing to the underside of roof slates, tiles or slabs to create a barrier against the elements, while still allowing the buidling to ‘breathe’.


Cos torching the roof


The interior floor has been flagged and the doors are now hung. With the scaffolding now down, the building is looking lovely for the start of the festive season.


The flagged interior of the Hearse House




The completed building


Work will start on the interior in the New Year ready to finally house the 1828 hearse from our collections.




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Spain’s Field Deconstruction Update

In this video, made by Beamish’s own effervescently talented Dave Watchman, Clara gives us a tour of the deconstruction of Spain’s Field, which is now well underway!

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The St Helen’s Pews

One of the questions the staff working at the recently opened St Helen’s church get asked most frequently is about the names on the beautiful box pews. The pews themselves came from the lovely Somerset village of Wiveliscombe. The Church there, St Andrew’s, needed more space to allow the church to function, and therefore kindly offered the pews to Beamish. St Andrew’s kept 8 rows, and the remainder were removed and brought the 274 miles North to be installed at Beamish.

Georgian box pews tell a fascinating story of social hierarchy within a church congregation, as well as demonstrating how a church would raise funds via subscription. Congregation members would pay to rent the numbered pews, which were then reserved (and in some cases locked) for their use. At the rear were often ‘free’ pews, for use by anyone unable to afford the cost of a private pew. The gallery would also be ‘free’ benches. Sometimes the names of those renting the pews were painted on, such as in the images below, from Skelton Old Church.

The painted names at Skelton Old Church - if you look carefully you can see the ones that have been painted over!

The painted names at Skelton Old Church – if you look carefully you can see the ones that have been painted over!

Numbers on Pews at Skelton Old Church.

Numbers on Pews at Skelton Old Church.

Thanks to research by Sylvia Fairbrass, a local historian looking into the records associated with Eston Church, we have a copy of the 1824 pew list.

The list of those who rented pews at St Helen's in 1824, and the cost of their subscriptions.

The list of those who rented pews at St Helen’s in 1824, and the cost of their subscriptions.

This list details who rented the pews, and combine with the Wiveliscombe pews to tell a story common to Georgian churches at both ends of the country.


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The Story of Joe the Quilter’s Cottage

With the help of Beamish’s videographer-extraordinaire, David Watchman, John recently made a video to explain the story of Joe’s cottage – including some background around Joe’s life and death, a description of the excavation and a rendition of the ballad about Joe from 1826!


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