A former medieval friary in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne has opened a series of new event spaces for corporate and private events within its 13th century buildings.
The team that has run Blackfriars Restaurant and Banquet Hall for 15 years has completed an ambitious scheme to renovate empty several areas of the historic venue, and now boasts a 90-seat Blackfriars Restaurant, a 50-seat Banquet Hall, a 36-seat Tasting Room, a 14-seat Cookery School, a 40-seat Meeting Room and a Parlour Bar accommodating up to 40 guests.
The friary was originally the home of the Dominican Friars who settled in Newcastle in 1239. They wore white tunics and black cloaks, which gave rise to their name ‘Black Friars’.
Now, several areas originally used by the friars have been treated to a 21st century facelift, equipping them for corporate and private events while retaining their historic character.
The reinstated Parlour Bar is the oldest bar in Newcastle, while the refurbished Tasting Room features antique 19th century seating was once used by the Tanners Guild.
Companies can also hire the Dormitory Rooms, once used as sleeping quarters for the friars, as a meeting room for up to 30 people theatre-style.
The main Banquet Hall, which has been hosting 300 events per year including weddings, themed events, medieval banquets, corporate events and private parties, now features new toilets, including disabled facilities and there has been extensive refurbishment at Blackfriars Restaurant, which holds the title of ‘Taste of England’ in the North East England Tourism Awards.
Andy Hook, the man in charge of the event spaces, said: “We’ve been planning to expand Blackfriars for many years now, so it’s very exciting to see our vision for these wonderful buildings come to fruition.
“It’s been a very rewarding process to give the lesser-known parts of this historic site a new lease of life, and open up these new areas to private and corporate events. The rooms are hidden gems, several of which have been lying dormant for centuries, and we’re delighted to be the ones to fill them with visitors again.”
The team at Blackfriars also opened Hinnies Restaurant in Whitley Bay in February 2016, and most recently Dobson and Parnell in December 2016, which offers refined British and European food on Newcastle’s Quayside.