The Parish Church of St Hilda, Abbess of Hartlepool
A prominent feature of the Headland, St Hilda's church was built in the late twelfth
century but the south doorway shows in its decoration that it belonged to an earlier
Norman church, probably erected in the time of Robert de Brus II, founder of Guisborough
Priory. Like most ancient churches, St Hilda's contains architecture of different
periods and styles but the nave and tower are the oldest sections.
There was a monastery, founded by St Aidan, on the Headland as early as AD 640.
The first abbess was St Bega. In 648 she was succeeded by St Hilda. Hilda remained
here for ten years and then proceeded to Whitby, where she died in 680. It is tempting
to blame Viking raids for destroying the monastery in the early 9th century. However
none of the excavated sites show any signs of a Viking onslaught. The archaeological
evidence suggests abandonment as the Northumbrian monasteries fell apart in the political
troubles of the late 8th century. (Tees Archaeology: click here for their web site
Among the knights who came with William the Conqueror in 1066 was Robert de Brus.
His son married Agnes, the daughter of the Lord of the Manor at Hart, thus starting
a connection with Hartlepool which lasted for many generations. It is generally believed
that St Hilda's was built by the grandson of Robert and Agnes, Robert de Brus IV
- hence the Bruce Chapel and Tomb.
The architecture of St Hilda’s in context: Downloads: