It’s safe to say that the tourism industry is looking a little different to normal this year and we are starting to discover the wonders of our own country.
While in other circumstances many of us may have been jetting off to somewhere exotic, the current situation is making sure we all stay a little closer to home.
Here at the Bridges, we’re using this opportunity to revisit some of our favourite landmarks in Sunderland to remind ourselves of everything the area has to offer.
The 70 foot high Earl of Durham’s Monument at the top of Penshaw Hill is better known to many of us as Penshaw Monument.
Built in 1844 in honour of John George Lambton, the first Earl of Durham, it was designed as a replica of Athens’ Temple of Hephaestus.
While you might have to navigate some uneven steps to get close to it, the views of Tyneside, Wearside and Durham from the top of the hill are some of the best in the area.
St Peter’s Church
Sunderland is home to one of the UK’s earliest stone churches, which was once home to the great scholar Venerable Bede.
It has undergone a number of restorations over the years but parts of the original church still stand to this day, including the West Wall, porch and a number of stone carvings.
While the church still holds regular services, it is also now home to a craft shop, interactive displays, a coffee shop and a working church allotment and bee hive.
Built by Sir William Hylton in the 14th century, the grand design was intended to reflect the family’s wealth and status.
Along with being a family home, it had a brief stint as a school, before it was passed to a local coal company and then taken over the by state in 1950, where it is now owned by English Heritage.
The castle is also said to be haunted by the Cauld Lad – the ghost of murdered stable boy Roger Skelton – with tales of people hearing him breaking dishes in the kitchen.
The Elephant Tea Rooms
The Grade II listed building was specially built in 1877 for local tea merchant Ronald Grimshaw, with its ornate style complementing the exotic origins of the tea it sold.
Inspired by architecture popular among Britons in India, the building’s features include turrets, elephant gablets and gargoyles which certainly makes it an eye-catching addition to the city.
Over the years, the building has been home to a tailors, a jewellers and a bank until most recently it was taken over by Sunderland City Council to house the city’s records and archives.
The Sculpture Trail
From 1991 to 2001 sculptor Colin Wilbourn and writer Chaz Brenchley worked with Sunderland residents to create the Sculpture Trail, taking inspiration from the city itself.
Now with thirteen different sculptures, it makes for a fantastic way to spend an afternoon admiring some coastal works of art, learning more about the area’s history and enjoying the beautiful views across the River Wear.
National Glass Centre
Sunderland’s glassmaking history goes back to 674AD, when skilled craftsmen created the first stained glass window in England for St Peter’s Church, so it makes sense that the city is home to a centre that celebrates it.
Housing both permanent and touring exhibitions, along with a whole number of unique glassmaking workshops, it’s a great day out for the whole family with something for everyone.
Roker Lighthouse has been one of Sunderland’s most recognisable landmarks since it was completed in 1903, back when Sunderland was a major British port.
Known for its distinctive red and grey granite stripes, pick a clear day to walk to the end of the pier and you’ll be rewarded with picturesque views of the coastline and out to sea.