Diocese of Newcastle

    Lead Verger, Hexham Abbey

    21 Sep 2019, noon

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    Hexham Abbey has been a place of worship since 674AD.

    As a parish church, Hexham Abbey exists to serve its local community, to be a place where significant events in people's lives are marked, where people can come in times of great joy or great sadness, and where important civic and community events take place.

    Hexham Abbey also serves over 120,000 visitors annually. Alongside occasionally joining in worship, they enjoy the building and our facilities (exhibition, refectory and shop).  In addition, local and regional private and public groups and organisations cross our threshold, sometimes for educational visits, sometimes combining a service in the Abbey with an event in the Priory Buildings.

    The beautiful space inside the Abbey is increasingly used for a variety of services of regional significance as well as public and private events, concerts, exhibitions and  receptions.

    The demands of an ancient building of the scale of Hexham Abbey, Grade 1* listed and a Scheduled Ancient Monument, are significant and require careful monitoring and care. Expert advice is on hand and requisite systems are in place.

    Hexham Abbey now comprises both the Church and its trading arm, Hexham Abbey Trading Limited (running a Shop, a Refectory and an Events and Lettings Business). Both are led by the Parochial Church Council and a Board of Directors respectively, and a team of staff and volunteers.

    Worship takes place regularly, with Morning and Evening Prayer said daily, Holy Communion two times mid-week, Tots' Praise weekly, and three to four services most Sundays. In addition there are baptism services, marriage services, funeral and memorial services, civic and diocesan services, and services for particular groups. The tradition of worship encompasses a breadth, from traditional Choral Evensong with our robed choirs, Choral Parish Eucharist, informal and experimental services, Prayer Group and Meditation Group.
    Over 300 people count themselves members of Hexham Abbey by being signed up to the Church Electoral Roll, and congregations are significantly boosted for special occasions.

    Job purpose
    The Lead Verger, under the direction of the Rector, will lead the Vergers in the daily running of Hexham Abbey. This is a varied role, which requires confidence, use of own initiative and flexibility. The key tasks set out below, are not exhaustive. The post holder must recognise this and respond to any challenges. Your duties, working in close cooperation with your verger colleagues, include responsibility for:

    Caring for worship

    • Supporting and liaising with the clergy
    • Doing all the background preparation for worship and taking a ceremonial part in some services
    • Leading Morning and Evening Prayer when required
    • Developing detailed liturgical knowledge from liturgical colours and clergy vesture to dealing with holy sacraments and an understanding of liturgical books used.
    • Dealing with the official registers for services
    • Ordering consumables such as altar breads, wine and candles.
    • Being an altar server at some services of Holy Communion
    • Ensuring that all furniture, plates, ornaments and vestments are maintained to the highest order.

    Services and Events

    • Play an essential role in the management and delivery of services and events, liaising with key staff
    • Ensure that the staff rota has adequate cover for events.
    • Briefing all stewards and volunteers for services and events, ensuring that Health and Safety and the Evacuation procedures are carried out in line with operations.
    • Liaising with the staging team and any other contractors,
    • Hoisting and lowering the flag as specified on special occasions

    Health and Safety

    • Being responsible for the Abbey, ensuring that equipment is kept safely and that hazards and property maintenance is reported to the Office Manager.
    • Being willing to undertake training for Working at Height; First Aid and Fire Warden.
    • Being the primary First Aider for services and events
    • Ensuring that the incident reporting forms are completed and returned to the Office Manager

    Caring for the Building

    • Ensuring the Abbey is clean and presented to high standards at all times, both internally and externally, including minor maintenance, following the verger's handbook.
    • Keeping the Vestry in good order
    • Preparing and moving furniture and other equipment for services and events (the job can be physically demanding)
    • Operating different operational systems in the Abbey, ie sound and Lighting, heating and alarm
    • Being the first response person for the emergency services and alarm monitoring station.

    Caring for people

    • Ensuring the verging team represent the Abbey to an exceptional standard welcoming visitors and volunteers; showing them the Abbey, answering questions, well presented etc.
    • Supporting all visitors, including those with pastoral needs/ in distress.

    Communication / Administration

    • Attending regular team meetings to ensure team communication and management of tasks
    • Hold regular verger meetings to impart information.
    • Ensure the abbey is staffed with vergers and stewards, by planning rotas for both, to include holiday cover
    • Updating noticeboards

    While the focus of the verger is the ecclesiastical building, we expect flexibility and willingness to support the caretaking team of the Abbey's Priory Buildings as required.

    We expect applicants to be or be willing to become either a communicant member of the Church of England or a practising member of a Christian church in good standing with the Church of England, since the verger's duties include taking a full part in worship and occasionally leading said services in the absence of the clergy. The post therefore carries a genuine occupational requirement under the Equality Act 2010.


    Essential abilities and attributes

    The successful candidate will:

    • Be friendly and welcoming, aware of the responsibility of representing the Abbey to the public
    • Be able to lead, manage and motivate teams
    • Able to plan staff and steward rotas
    • Possess great interpersonal skills for dealing with all manner of people
    • Be physically fit and able to work at heights
    • Be utterly trustworthy, reliable, honest, discreet and loyal
    • Have literacy and numeracy skills and be computer literate
    • Be well organised and able to forward plan, noting issues on the horizon
    • Have the ability to evaluate, learn and develop
    • Have the ability to handle difficult issues without getting flustered and in a sympathetic manner
    • Be self-motivated and able to work unsupervised
    • Be a helpful and cooperative team member with the good of the whole organisation and all its constituent people and elements at heart
    • Be supportive of requirements of clergy, churchwardens, staff members, volunteers and congregations
    • Understand and appreciate the unique heritage of Hexham Abbey, both its historic and religious significance
    • Be a Christian supporting the worship life of the Abbey

    The successful applicant will not be able to start the job until we have clearance from an enhanced DBS check.

    Desirable qualifications and experience lie in the following areas:

    • Tourism & hospitality and heritage
    • Facility management
    • general administration
    • security
    • working with volunteers
    • managing health & safety compliance and emergency procedures
    • managing safeguarding processes and procedures


    Working Hours

    The demands of the post entail regular work at weekends, and no holidays over Christmas and Easter. We also expect flexibility to allow for evening work to cater for events (overtime or time off in lieu are offered). The post holder will need to be flexible to lock up outside of core hours.

    The post will be full-time, with overtime/lieu time during busy periods.

    The post will be subject to a six month probationary period.


    Between £16,000 and £18,000 per annum, dependent on experience and completion of successful probation.


    We offer a pension scheme through People's Pension.

    Other information

    This is a varied and demanding role, and for the person keen to contribute to the life of the Abbey and the wider community, it is a rewarding post indeed.

    References will be taken up prior to interview, unless we hear difference.

    Please note that we will only consider your application if you request, complete and submit our application form. Just submitting your CV is not considered an application.

    Closing Date of Receipt of Applications: Noon on Friday 20th September 2019

    Completed applications should be emailed to kirsty.wills@hexhamabbey.org.uk