Cross Jesmond Dene Road opposite the Banqueting Hall and enter a small copse by the wooden gate provided. The copse, a small Dene formed by the course of a stream called the Moor Crook Letch, contains the remains of the Chapel of Our Lady of Jesmond or St. Mary's Chapel. The oldest church or chapel in Newcastle, this was probably built by the Grenville family, one-time Lords of Jesmond, early in the 12th Century, from which date are the remains of the pillars of the chancel arch.
The chapel is first mentioned in 1272 in an Assize Roll which records how five clerics helped a criminal escape from Newcastle Gaol - first to Jesmond Chapel and then to sanctuary at Tynemouth. Although the chapel was at one time in the possession of the Priors of Tynemouth, division of the manor between three sisters in 1333 led to confusion as to rights over the chapel and, at one time, three separate Chantries were maintained by their descendents; this confusion resulted in much scandal and damage, including stolen jewellery and chalices and in 1364, Edward III took claim. In 1549 the Mayor and Burgesses of Newcastle paid £144.13.4d to Edward VI to purchase the chapel and adjoining Hospice and in turn sold them to Sir Robert Brandling.
The Chapel has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries because of the divers miracles, reputed to have taken place among the sick who attended the Chapel and the neighbouring Holy Well. Even today there is an organised pilgrimage to the Chapel every year when a service is held in the ruins. Pilgrim street, in the centre of Newcastle, probably derives its name from being the route the pilgrims took on their journey to the Chapel. Following the Reformation and dissolution of the monasteries, the building thought to have been a hospital was rebuilt as a house, and the Chapel became a barn and stable; it passed through several hands until bought by Lord Armstrong who gifted it to the City.
Text taken from Jesmond Dene History Trail
A single photograph of St Mary's Chapel from 1903 at Tyneside Life and Times St. Mary's Chapel, Reid Park Road, Jesmond