* * Saint Helen's Church Low Fell * *
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The Transepts

North Wall

(Manufacturer - Bacon Bros. Cost About £220. Installed early 1901)

Three light lancet window, each with pedestal and canopy. Depicts the four greater prophets, Isaiah to the left, Jeremiah above, Ezekiel in the centre and Daniel to the right.
Incorporated within each window is a text on an interwoven ribbon relating to each prophet.

Isaiah XXXV:10. "The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing to Zion".
Jeremiah XXXI:33. "I will be their God, and they shall be my people".
Ezekiel XXXVI:26. "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you".
Daniel XII:3. "They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament".

The windows, provided by public subscription, are a memorial to the Revd William Henry Simons, LLD the first vicar of St Helen's (1876 - 1894).
He was a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, both he and his wife having been born in that city. Little is known of his ministry at St Helen's, the church records providing no information.
He was seemingly well thought of and had worked ceaselessly with his wife,Elizabeth in setting up the Parish which was formed from parts of the parishes of St.John, St.Mary and St.Cuthbert. He retired through ill health in 1894. To mark his retirement a presentation ceremony was held in the School Hall, Beaconsfield Road (now demolished) under the chairmanship of Captain Abel H. Chapman, the presentation being made by Edward Joicey, son of the founder. He was presented with a handsomely illuminated address (the work of a parishioner, William Connell), a portrait in an oak frame from the grand studio of Mr.R.E.Ruddock, Newcastle, and a purse containing £500. These were presented on behalf of friends and parishioners. There were also two cases of plate from the scholars, past and present, of St.Helen’s School and a tastefully mounted walking stick from the members of the church choir.

Nothing is known subsequent to him retiring, although he did indicate in his speech of gratitude, that he had "toiled on but due to his failing health, could not carry on any longer and hold that place of trust and so had tendered his resignation to the Bishop". He told his audience that, "It was a hard and bitter thing to say farewell", and that he felt that "he had but a short time of increasing pain and suffering before him".

Mrs.Simons was living in Devon when the memorial windows were designed in 1900 and approved them. She died on 10 January,1903, aged 77 years. Whether the Rev. Dr. Simons retired there and died we shall never know.

South Transept (Lady Chapel)

South Wall

(Manufacturer - Bacon Brothers, London. Cost - about £170.
Installed early in 1901)

A three light lancet window, depicting the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Provided by past and present parishioners in memory of Edward Joicey, the Founder of St.Helen’s Church who died in 1879, just three years after the building of the Church.

The Evangelists

Edward Joicey was born in 1824, the youngest of five sons and two daughters of George Joicey of Backworth. He was apprenticed to Robert Stephenson and Co. and, having served his time as a mechanical engineer, he entered commercial life as a partner in the firm of James Joicey & Co, set up by his brother James and also including another brother, John.
The family firm prospered and by 1860 had fourteen collieries employing several thousand workers in numerous occupations.

Edward married Eleanor Elizabeth, daughter of Charles Clifton of Staindrop. They had three children, Ellen (born 1864), Edward, (1865) and Mary Kate, (1867). Edward and
Eleanor built Whinney House,Low Fell, in 1864 and turned the twenty four acre wilderness into a beautiful garden.

In 1876, at a cost of £13000, Edward built St.Helen’s Church thus relieving the people of Low Fell of the steep climb to St.John’s Church, Sheriff Hill.. To encourage his staff to go to church Edward had constructed a bridge across the dene linking the house with the church. The gateway in the north boundary wall and the Joicey Door in the transept still exist, though the bridge was blown up in a 1940 wartime exercise.

In his later years, Edward purchased Blenkinsopp Hall, near Haltwhistle and Newbiggen Hall, Blanchland and spending time living in each of his residences from time to time. He was an extremely benevolent and generous man who contributed to the building of numerous schools and churches both in Gateshead and North West Durham thus contributing to the social, educational and religious life of his workers and their families. He was a Justice of the Peace and Vicar’s Churchwarden at St. Helen’s until his death. He was always delicate of health and was confined to his house for the last seven months of his life having “inflammation of the lungs”. He died on 2 September,1879 and is buried in Jesmond Old Cemetery, Newcastle.

East Wall

(Manufacturer - George Joseph Baguley. Installed 1902.)

A single lancet window depicting the Parable of the Talents erected to the memory of John Ronald Jackson.

Parable of the Talents

I have been unable to trace for certain this man. However, there is a John Ronald Jackson listed in the 1871 Census. Described then as aged 67 years, a retired painter, born in Newcastle, his wife Elizabeth aged 63 years, living at Belle Vue Cottage. Other later lists always state Belle Vue. Although this would make him about 96 at the turn of the century, an entry in the church magazine of December,1902 adds credibility to this theory, stating ‘Moreover, our Church has been beautified by the window which Mrs Irving has put up in the south transept in memory of her father, Mr Jackson,who,as old inhabitants will remember, was in his time a most active and helpful church worker.’ I am reasonably confident that this is our man

. Click on the windows for a larger version.




We are most grateful to Sidney Atkinson for providing the information.

The Church on the Bank - a book by Sidney Atkinson

Further information about the history of St Helen's is available in his book "The Church on the Bank" which is available at a cost of £4.00 (plus p&p). If you would like a copy of the book
email the vicar

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