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Exhibition Delves Deep into the Religion of Coal

26 May 2016

A unique exhibition digs deep beneath the surface to reveal the relationship between the Bishops of Durham and the mining communities they served.

Pitmen and Prelates unearths the hidden history behind the complex bond connecting the bishops and the once mighty County Durham mining fraternity.

It is the first exhibition to examine how Durham’s vast coal reserves affected the lives of both the Bishops and local people.

The exhibition features the work of two of County Durham’s best-known mining artists – Norman Cornish and Tom McGuinness – alongside many previously unseen objects, including a miner’s lamp damaged in the West Stanley pit disaster of 1909 which killed 168 men.

Highlights include John Hodgson Campbell’s Under the Coaly Tyne (c1880-1890), which is the earliest known artistic impression of an underground mining scene not created for Parliament or the press, and Race Course at Durham (1887), by an unknown artist, which is believed to be one of the first depictions of the Durham Miners’ Gala.

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