At one time there were five friaries with prime city center locations in Newcastle. Today, Blackfriars is the only remaining medieval friary in Newcastle. Blackfriars was once one of the largest friaries in the United Kingdom, and remains one of the oldest remaining buildings in the city. It covers seven acres, and had two gardens that provided a small income for the friars.
The Dominican order of the Blackfriars occupied this site from the early 13th century until 1539. Dominicans were actually forbidden from owning buildings and land, but property could be held in trust for them. Such was the case with Blackfriars in Newcastle. During the 14th century, the friary accommodated royalty on more than one occasion, including Edward III in 1334.
The church, sacristy, eastern half of the chapter house and cloister were all demolished following the Reformation in 1536. The convent of Blackfriars was sold to the mayor, who then leased it to some of the town’s craft guilds, which probably explains why it is only one of the religious buildings of its type that has survived.
During much of the 19th century and into the 20th century, Blackfriars was neglected and fell into a bad state of repair. Then between 1973 and 1981, the buildings were restored. Only the buildings of the cloisters remain and now house a range of craft workshops and a restaurant. While the guild of Tailors, among others, continued to meet at Blackfriars until 1974, the Tanners Guild still use the former Smiths Hall in Blackfriars for their meetings.