Climbing Grey’s Monument in Newcastle

Stuart Forster explains what to expect from climbing Grey’s Monument in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Grey’s Monument, in central Newcastle, stands in memory of the man for whom bergamot-infused Earl Grey tea first was blended. From April to September this most English of landmarks opens on the first Saturday of the month for visits by members of the public.

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Known locally simply as the Monument, Grey’s Monument looks very similar to Nelson’s Column, which stands at Trafalgar Square in London. The statues at the tops of both were sculpted by Edward Hodges Baily.

Grey's Monument, Statue, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. When climbing Greys Monument, you reach the top with amazing views.
Newcastle’s answer to Nelson’s Column? Grey’s Monument in central Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England.

Climb Grey’s Monument in Newcastle upon Tyne

A lightning strike, during the summer of 1941, knocked the head off Grey’s Monument. As I waited to squeeze through the tiny door leading to the spiral staircase within the column, one of the Newcastle City Guides checking visitors’ tickets at the base of the landmark recounted an anecdote about that event. Apparently, a local shop owner retrieved what was left of the head and placed it his window, along with a sign telling people that his prices were so good that even Earl Grey had come down for a closer look.

In case you’re wondering, the head has been replaced. Ralph Hedley, a local sculptor, crafted the replacement that was placed atop the monument in 1948.

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Monument, Grey's Monument, Newcastle, Sunny Day
A blue sky above Grey’s Monument in Newcastle. The Monument Metro station is below the city landmark.

History of Grey’s Monument

An inscription on the base of the Monument, written in gold-painted capital letters, explains why the landmark exists:

This column was erected in 1838 to commemorate the services rendered to this country by Charles Earl Grey, K.C., who during an active political career of nearly half a century was the constant advocate of peace and the fearless and consistent champion of civil and religious liberty

He first directed his efforts to the amendment of the representation of the people in 1792 and was the minister by whose advice, and under whose guidance, the great measure of parliamentary reform was, after an arduous and protracted struggle safely and triumphantly achieved in the year 1832.

Grey, whose family home was Howick Hall in Northumberland, was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom between 1830 and 1834. The Great Reform Act, officially the Representation of the People Act of 1832, extended the country’s voting franchise, created new parliamentary seats and abolished so-called ‘rotten boroughs’.

Words, Inscription, Grey's Monument. It features the history as part of climbing Greys Monument Newcastle upon Tyne.
A picture can be worth 1,000 words. Actually, it’s 95 in the case. The inscription on Grey’s Monument.

The best view of Newcastle?

It was, though, the prospect of panoramic views over Newcastle, rather than Grey’s political achievements, that had me wanting to climb the 164 steps leading to the narrow viewing platform at the top of the city landmark.

Check out the NEoffers website for gift experiences in north-east England (£):

Ideally, I’d have climbed Grey’s Monument on a bright day and clipped a series of appealing photos of Newcastle’s skyline. Unfortunately, the April sky was overcast and grey during my visit.

Recent rainfall and springtime snow meant that water was still being pumped from the base of the Monument when I arrived for my allotted 10.00-10.30am timeslot. Those of us wishing to climb the spiral staircase to the top had to plodge through about a centimetre of residual water.

Grey Street in Grainger Town, seen from the viewing platform after climbing Grey's Monument in Newcastle
The view Lord Grey has from the top of Grey’s Monument.

Climbing the spiral staircase

Climbing Grey’s Monument in Newcastle involves climbing the staircase within Grey’s Monument resulted in the revelatory realisation that the column is perforated by a series of narrow vertical and horizontal slits. Like arrow slits in a medieval castle they provide a view below and light to stream in. Despite passing the Monument hundreds of times, I’d never noticed the slits previously. Now I never fail to see them.

Slit in the stonework seen while climbing Grey's Monument in Newcastle upon Tyne
One of the slits in Grey’s Monument.

Thankfully the railing on the viewing platform is high, otherwise I’d have felt very shaky while looking down over the city. Over the course of a few minutes I rotated around the column and admired the view, carefully stepping over the lightning conductor while doing so.

What did I do after climbing Grey’s Monument? Head for a cup of tea, a cup of Earl Grey, of course.

City centre buildings seen from the viewing platform after climbing Grey's Monument in Newcastle upon Tyne
Buildings in central Newcastle seen from the viewing platform on Grey’s Monument.

Check out the NEoffers website for gift experiences in north-east England (£):

Location of Grey’s Monument

Grey’s Monument is on Grainger Street in Newcaste:

Google Map showing the location of Grey’s Monument in Newcastle.

One of the easiest ways of reaching Grey’s Monument is by using public transport. The Tyne and Wear Metro stops under the landmark. The Monument is one of central Newcastle’s Metro stops.

Grey's Monument in central Newcastle, the memorial erected in memory of Prime Minister Earl Grey, which can be climbed on select dates
Grey’s Monument in central Newcastle, the memorial erected in memory of Prime Minister Earl Grey, which can be climbed on select dates.

Visiting the north-east of England? Search for accommodation in or near Newcastle on Booking.com:


Booking.com

Further information

See the Newcastle City Guides website for information on how to book a ticket to climb to the top of Grey’s Monument and guided walking tours on Tyneside. That website lists ticket prices and availability.

The NewcastleGateshead website has information about attractions in both Newcastle and Gateshead. You can also find a post about things to do during a walk in Newcastle here on Go Eat Do.

The Visit England and Visit Britain websites have ideas about things to do and places to visit in Tyne and Wear and beyond.

Stuart Forster, the author of this post, is an award-winning travel writer based in north-east England. Make contact via this website to commission travel and food features or copy writing relating to the north-east of England.

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Grey's Monument at Grainger Street in Newcastle upon Tyne. Featured image as part of climbing Greys Monument.
Grey’s Monument at Grainger Street in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Books about Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Newcastle Then and Now (£), by Rob Kirkup (£):

Newcastle History Tour (£) by Ken Hutchinson (£):

Newcastle and Gateshead: Pevsner City Guide (£)by Grace McCombie (£):

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4 Comments

  • Roseanna

    April 25, 2018 at 09:41 Reply

    You know, I lived in the North East of England for 16 years and never done this. I really need to start exploring my own doorstep!

    • Stuart Forster

      April 30, 2018 at 09:41 Reply

      Opportunities for 2018 sold out quickly, I learnt after posting this story. Keep your eyes peeled and hopefully you’ll get to climb the Monument soon.

  • Jenna Ramirez

    May 9, 2018 at 07:57 Reply

    Newcastle really a wonderful place to visit. All of these pictures inspire us. It’s a historical place, and every traveler wants to see another look of Newcastle. I am a traveler and love to visit those historical places. Now I excited to visit Newcastle. Thanks for sharing this.

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