In an attractive village beside the River Tyne lies St Mary the Virgin, graced by a magnificent late Saxon tower.
Bywell must certainly be the only village in England with two surviving Saxon churches.
Built around 800 by Benedictines (Black Monks) of Durham (St Andrews was built by Dominicans (White Monks)) this early church contained Roman stones in its walls, which may indicate that it stood on a Roman site.
The north wall of the nave and west parts of the chancel are the oldest existing parts of the church, and some foundations also remain from this early structure.
Discovered in the wall of the tower, and now placed inside the church, is an ancient cross shaft carved with a crucifixion scene, which may date from the 7th century.
After being destroyed by fire, the church was rebuilt in the 13th and 14th century and now consists of a nave, south transept, chancel, north vestry and a west tower. The tower is plain and square and, with walls 35ft (5m) thick, it is thought to have been built for defence.
Well carved medieval grave slabs are inside and out, and although most of the church is 13th century, there is Victorian remodelling in the vibrantly coloured stained glass, a splendid reredos and a tiled mosaic floor.