Historic Northumberland church that attracts thousands of visitors to get new addition after 900 years

A Northumberland church that attracts thousands of visitors each year is finally getting a toilet - after 900 years.

More than 20,000 people visit St Aidan's Church, in Bamburgh, each year but staff and visitors are forced to use the public toilets half a mile away, as the 12th century church has no facilities inside. People come to the visit the Anglo-Saxon project hosted by the church, the Grace Darling memorial and many visit the church from across the world as an act of pilgrimage due to Saint Aidan being known for spreading the gospel among the Anglo-Saxons and helping to establish Christianity in the country.

The church is keen to provide a better welcome for tourists and now the Grade I Listed church is to share in a £478,110 urgent funding pay-out from the National Churches Trust. A £10,000 National Churches Trust Grant will help to pay for two toilets – one accessible – as well create a small kitchen and servery area in the church to enable St Aidan’s to become more welcoming.

By adding in toilets and a servery area to the church, it will allow the church to host more events and community activities, such as coffee mornings. This will allow for even more people to stay longer within the church and enjoy the history and beauty of the building.

Claire Walker, chief executive of the National Churches Trust, said: "The National Churches Trust is excited to be able to support St Aidan church to enable them to install new toilets and a servery area in their beautiful building. This will help to keep the church open and serving local people.

“Whether seeking quiet reflection, access to community services or a place to worship, the National Churches Trust helps hundreds of churches each year and with the support of local people, keeps them thriving today and tomorrow.”

Louise Taylor-Kenyon, Vicar of St Aidan’s said: “We are delighted that the National Churches Trust is helping us with this new phase in the life of St Aidan’s. Putting new facilities into a Grade 1 listed building is not straightforward and is expensive, so this grant from the National Churches Trust is very welcome.

“Our aim is to extend our existing ministry of hospitality to a wider range of people through being able to host many more events and activities. In addition, we look forward to not having to direct wedding guests and school children back out of the church to the public facilities beyond the churchyard in the village, and to being able to become more accessible to as many people within our community as possible.”

“St Aidan’s is a unique and special building with an astonishing history – now we can look forward to being able to offer a better welcome to the many people who come here for worship, for events, for special services and for visits.”