The Best Places to Visit and Learn about Sunderland’s Heritage

Whether you are a tourist, or even a local resident of Sunderland, it may interest you to know that Sunderland has a number of different facilities that are dedicated to teaching the public about Sunderland’s amazing heritage.

St. Peters Church

A Northumbrian nobleman named Benedict Biscop created this beautiful establishment in the seventh century. It is one of the first churches in England to be solely built from stone. The church displays original stained glass that was crafted in the seventh century by a European craftsman, making St. Peters the owners of the largest stained glass collectors in Europe. Inside, you will find beautifully crafted arch ways and perfectly sculpted stone columns. St. Peters is also home to Bede’s Bakehouse, who’s menu includes: salads, paninis, filled jacket potatoes, soups, fish, fruit salad, sandwiches, pudding, teas, coffee, and cake.


Hylton Castle

Hylton Castle was built by Sir William Hylton just before 1400. The castle was built with the intent of showing the Hylton family’s wealth. The remaining part of the castle still standing is the gatehouse tower. The gatehouse tower was a rectangular structure with four stories, and it is where the Hylton family resided. The exterior of the west side of the castle held four square turrets with projecting octagonal crowns. The east side exterior proudly showed the stars and stripes shield of the Washington family. While only the gatehouse has survived, Hylton Castle is available for tourists.

The Watch House Museum

The Rocker Watch House created in 1906 and served as headquarters of the Rocker Volunteer Life Brigade. It was built with a lookout point so that the Brigade members could keep watch over the harbor, beaches, and piers north of the river. The watch house contains large amounts of information and artifacts from the Brigade’s 130 year history. The Brigade opens the Watch House as a Museum every Sunday afternoon as well as Bank Holiday Mondays, and entrance is free.

The Watch House displays memorabilia from ships that came to grief around the coast and harbor. You can also see numerous photos, various model boats, and information on the rescues. A plaque commemorating the sinking of the City of Benares in which nine children died is also on display. There are also younger children activities as well, which include: coloring books, Morse code, drawing paper, and educational DVDS. Drinks are available for sale, as well as biscuits, crisps, and sweets. Mementos such as pennates, hats, lapel pins, and car stickers are also available.

Bowes Railway

Bowes Railway is the only operational preserved standard gauge rope-hauled railway in the world. It was 15 miles by the time it was completed in 1855. The railway hauled over 1 million tons of coal per year. Currently, the railway is open to the public. The entire railway, including the buildings, rolling stocks, and machinery is now considered and ancient monument. It is run by the Bowes Railway Company, Ltd, and is a registered charity.

These are just a few of the old museums and monuments Sunderland has to offer. Sunderland holds many places of interests, and is more than happy to share its heritage with you!