Hexham Abbey marks 1,350 anniversary year with Festival of Flame

5,000 origami stars are suspended as part of an art project to mark Hexham Abbey's 1,350 anniversary year. Credit: Hexham Abbey

A Festival of Flame is kickstarting the 1,350th anniversary year of one of England's earliest seats of Christianity.

Hexham Abbey, in Northumberland, marks the milestone this year.

The abbey will host a number of events over the next 12 months, starting with the Festival of Flame over the weekend of 2-4 February.

The light display will include candles and music and will be both inside and outside the abbey.

People can also find out more about its history through a series of 10 minute talks on Saturday 3 February.

Revd Canon David Glover, the rector of the abbey, said: “Not many institutions in the world get the chance to celebrate 1,350 years of life and so this is a really exciting year for the Abbey.

Hexham Abbey has stood at the centre of the Northumberland market town for 1,350 years. Credit: Google

"Over the next twelve months we will give thanks for all who have contributed to the Abbey’s long history. But we also want to look ahead and remember that God is calling us, in this generation, to keep alive the light of the Gospel. I do hope you will visit the Abbey during the year and find a wonderful welcome.”

He will be leading a service, alongside the Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, to mark the start of the celebrations on Sunday 4 February.

This month will also see 5,000 origami stars suspended above the abbey's old choir stalls.

Each star represents a person nominated by members of the community.

Each star represents a special person nominated by a member of the community. Credit: Hexham Abbey

Hexham Abbey dates from 673-74, when Queen Etheldreda granted Bishop Wilfred the lands of Hexhamshire for a new Benedictine Church, which was completed in 678.

Over the next centuries it faced attacks from Vikings and Scottish raiders, including William Wallace and Robert Bruce.

When the monasteries were dissolved in 1536, Hexham's chancel and transepts survived because they were needed by the parish church.

It has undergone various restorations over the last two centuries, the most recent of which was completed in 2014.

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