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Bishop Pudsey 1154AD - 1198AD

Bishop Hugh Du Puiset, also known as Pudsey, was the most princely of all the Prince Bishops of Durham. Pudsey, a nephew of King Stephen and a former Treasurer of York and Archdeacon of Winchester, became Prince Bishop of Durham in 1154. Thirty five years later he acquired further powers as Earl of Northumberland, Chief Justiciar of England and Regent of the North. By 1189 his possessions included Newcastle, Bamburgh and Windsor Castle and he was the virtual ruler of Northern England during the king's absence. His main contribution to North-East history is the Boldon Buke of 1183 which is the region's very own Domesday Book.


Hugh Pudsey is consecrated Bishop of Durham in Rome following the death of William St Barbara. Pudsey, only 25, is a nephew of King Stephen and reputedly a great grandson of William the Conqueror. His silver and lead mining rights in Weardale are confirmed.

1158 - PUDSEY'S CASTLE (Norham on Tweed)

Richard of Wolviston adds a stone keep to the Bishop of Durham's castle at Norham on Tweed.


Pudsey builds a bridge in Durham, linking the city with a new borough called Elvet.

1164 - DARLINGTON MANOR (Darlington)

Pudsey builds a manor house in Darlington. Gateshead receives a charter from the Bishop granting the burgesses the liberty of the forests which are quite extensive in this district.

1165 - SCOTTISH CLAIMS TO TYNEDALE (Northumberland)

William the Lion, the new King of Scotland, claims Tynedale is still part of his kingdom.

1170 - SAINT GODRIC DIES AGED 105 (Finchale)

St Godric of Finchale dies at the age of 105. Born in Norfolk, he spent the early part of his life as a pedlar and sea pirate before a pilgrimage to Compostella in Spain made him become a hermit. He established a hermitage at Carlisle and then moved to a cave near Wolsingham before settling at Finchale in 1115. Godric was a close adviser to Pudsey.


Pudsey's nephew Hugh, Earl of Barr, brings a fleet of ships from Flanders to Hartlepool to assist King William of Scotland in an invasion of England. Pudsey has probably encouraged his nephew.

1172 - NEW CASTLES (Newcastle and Wensleydale)

Maurice The Engineer is rebuilding Newcastle castle in stone for King Henry. A castle has also been built at Middleham in Wensleydale replacing a nearby castle built by Count Alan in 1070.

1173 - SCOTS INVADE (Northumberland)

William of Scotland invades the North-East to support a rebellion by King Henry III's sons. Pudsey does not challenge William's movement through Durham. Bowes Castle in Yorkshire is attacked.

July 1174 - SCOTTISH KING CAPTURED (Alnwick and Richmond)

William of Scotland is captured at Alnwick and surrenders Berwick to the English. He is imprisoned in Richmond Castle before transportation to Normandy. The fleet of Hugh de Barr at Hartlepool returns to Flanders. King Henry confiscates and then destroys Pudsey's castle at Northallerton to punish the Bishop's involvement in the Scottish attack. Henry also destroys the castles of the rebellious Mowbrays at Thirsk and Kirkby Malzeard.


Pudsey builds the Galilee Chapel or Lady Chapel at the western end of Durham Cathedral for ladies who, according to Benedictine rules, are not allowed into the main cathedral.

August 10, 1175 - SCOTS SUBMIT (York)

Barons of Scotland swear allegiance to King Henry at York.


Westgate and Bigg Market are among Newcastle's streets. Newcastle's growth was spurred by the establishment of a castle here 95 years ago. Newcastle is well situated to prosper as a port and military garrison and has risen from obscurity. In pre-Norman times it was home to a religious community called Monkchester.

1179 - TOWN AND CITY CHARTERS (Durham, Sunderland and Gateshead)

Durham's City Charter from Pudsey is confirmed by the Pope and a market is established. The borough of Sunderland (Wearmouth) receives a charter from Pudsey, giving its merchants similar rights to those at Newcastle. Pudsey had also established a borough at Gateshead.

Christmas Day, 1179 - HELL'S KETTLES (Croft-on-Tees, Darlington)

Pits called Hell's Kettles are said to have been formed by an earthquake.

1180 - MR WASHINGTON (Washington)

William De Hartburn (of Hartburn near Stockton) has bought the manor of Washington from Pudsey. Washington is known as Wessington so William becomes William de Wessington. William is the first member of the Washington family (predecessors of American president George Washington who gave his name to Washington DC).

1183 - DURHAM DOMESDAY (North-East)

Hugh Pudsey carries out the Boldon Buke survey of his territory in Durham and Northumberland. It is Durham's equivalent of the Domesday Book.


Robert De Brus IV builds St Hilda's Church on the site of an Anglo-Saxon monastery.


Richard The Lionheart becomes King of England. Pudsey assembles a fleet at Hartlepool to join Richard in the Crusades but Richard persuades the bishop to stay and defend the north. As a reward, the King gives Pudsey new political powers, making him Justiciar of England and Regent of the North (he shares these responsibilities with Bishop Longchamp of Ely). He also becomes Earl of Northumberland and acquires the town of Newcastle. The Earldom of Sadberge, which stretches from Teesdale to Hartlepool and is an outlying part of Northumberland, is also acquired by Pudsey.

March 16, 1190 - JEWS MASSACRED IN YORK (Clifford's Tower, York)

Over 100 Jews are massacred or commit suicide in anti-Jewish rioting at York. One hundred and fifty Jews took refuge in the castle and were told to convert to Christianity or be killed. Many kill their own wives and children while others are butchered as they escape.


Pudsey is tricked, arrested and locked in the tower by Bishop Longchamp of Ely during King Richard's absence. He is released after agreeing to give Windsor, Northumberland and Newcastle to Longchamp. Pudsey's son Henry is taken hostage by Longchamp as a means of security but King Richard's brother Prince John exiles Longchamp.

1195 - PUDSEY DIES (Doncaster)

Pudsey dies aged 70. He was heading south to answer to King Richard when he was taken ill at Doncaster. Pudsey had raised money for Richard's ransom while Richard was imprisoned in Austria but the bishop spent some of the money on projects like the new church of St Cuthbert's at Darlington.

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