Visit Hexham

History and Heritage

History and Heritage

A 1300 year old Abbey, ancient Gatehouses and England’s first Gaol. Hexham’s heritage is waiting to be explored. Discover curiously named streets and beautiful buildings as you trace the history of a typical traditional market town.

A photo of Hexham Abbey Hexham Spring Festival Rowing Regatta on the River Tyne at Hexham Hadrian's Wall

Visit Hexham

Discover one of Northumberland's most beautiful and historic market towns and surrounding countryside.

Explore our website to find things to do, places to visit, where to stay and eat. So much to see and do in Hexham to suit all budgets.

Visit Hexham

Discover one of Northumberland's most beautiful and historic market towns and surrounding countryside.

Explore our website to find things to do, places to visit, where to stay and eat. So much to see and do in Hexham to suit all budgets.

Visit Hexham

Discover one of Northumberland's most beautiful and historic market towns and surrounding countryside.

Explore our website to find things to do, places to visit, where to stay and eat. So much to see and do in Hexham to suit all budgets.

Visit Hexham

Discover one of Northumberland's most beautiful and historic market towns and surrounding countryside.

Explore our website to find things to do, places to visit, where to stay and eat. So much to see and do in Hexham to suit all budgets.

A photo of fireworks above Hexham Abbey A photo of Christmas lights in Hexham, Northumberland A photo of Christmas lights near the Abbey in Hexham, Northumberland A Treasure Island Pantomine Advert
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Hexham's History and Heritage

An ancient Abbey, a Moothall and Old Gaol are just a few of the buildings which reveal Hexham’s history. Lying in the long shadow of Hadrian’s Wall and the Scottish border, the town has been witness over the centuries to a variety of extraordinary and sometimes bloody events.

A photo of Hexham AbbeyHexham Abbey (a former Priory) dominates the Market Place. Hexham’s Christian Heritage is closely linked to that of Lindisfarne, St. Cuthbert and St. Wilfrid.

A close look at some of the stones in the Saxon crypt will reveal that they have been recycled from Roman times, and there are many other historical treasures to explore both in the Abbey and its interactive exhibition, The Big Story, which brings to life the people and events that shaped the Abbey’s fascinating 1300 year history.

 

The Moothall , built in the 15th Century, stands tall across the Market Place. It once formed the gateway to the Archbishop of York’s buildings and provided the Court Rooms in which prisoners from the nearby Old Gaol were tried. Built in 1330 this is the first purpose built jail in England.

A photo of Hexham Old Gaol on the Visit Hexham websiteNowadays, the Old Gaol provides an insight into the turbulent times of the Border skirmishes and the Border Reivers, a time when cattle rustling, guerilla fighting and clan feuds were rife.

In 1761 the Market Place was the scene of the Hexham Riot. A plaque in the pavement close to the Moothall is a reminder of this time of revolt.

A photo of Hexham's marketBy 1766 the town had settled into trading and the Shambles was constructed to provide a covered market. A verse by Wilfrid Gibson, Hexham’s 19th Century poet, decorates the old pant (water pump) and is a reminder that the Market Place has always been a place to meet.

A photo of the outside of the Forum CinemaA more modern building is the community-owned Forum Cinema, dating from 1937 and built on the site of the original Gem Palace which was built in 1910.

Many of Hexham’s street names match the industries which once flourished in this busy market town: Tanners Yard and Glovers Place were hives of activity, playing their part in the production of Hexham Tans (the softest of leather gloves). More details on Hexham's leather heritage can be found here.

A photo of the exterior of the Queen's Hall Art CentreThe Queen’s Hall is one of many fine Victorian buildings on Beaumont Street. It is now home to a library, theatre and art gallery, but was once the Town Hall and Corn Exchange.

Opposite the Queen’s Hall is the green heart of Hexham. The Sele has been a public space since 1753 and within the area known as the Abbey Grounds lies the Bandstand, a gift to the townspeople in 1912 from wool trader Henry Bell.

A photo of the bandstand in HexhamThe town’s former horticultural centre is now the site of the Wentworth Leisure Centre and if you’ve travelled by train you will have travelled on one of the very first stretches of railway.

Hexham station marked its 175th birthday in 2013.

 

 

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