The Town Moor
The Town Moor is common land forming a lovely open space of around 400 hectares where the freemen can traditionally graze their cattle. Forming Newcastle’s lung it encompasses an area bigger than Hampstead Heath and Hyde Park combined. It was home to the Northumberland Plate horserace from 1833 before that event transferred to High Gosforth Park in 1881.
Called Goseford in the twelfth century Gosforth means ‘ford frequented by geese’ which probably gathered on a nearby ford across the Ouseburn. Alternative suggestions say the name is corrupted from Ouseford or that Ouseburn was originally called the Goose Burn. North and South Gosforth began as medieval settlements separated by the burn.
From 1509 Gosforth belonged to the Brandlings, who were one of the region’s most powerful coal owners by the eighteenth century. Confusingly Gosforth’s modern centre on Gosforth High Street is really Bulman Village. It was built in 1826 on land given by Job James Bulman to provide voters to support him in a local election.
North of Gosforth was the site of Coxlodge Hall, built in 1796 by Gateshead medical man Job Bulman (father of Job James) who made his fortune in India. Coxlodge colliery opened nearby by 1820. Its pits included Regent Pit, named because it opened in the Regency era. It is remembered in the name of Gosforth’s Regent Centre.
Nearby Kenton may derive its name from Cyning Tun, ‘the king’s farm’. Kenton Bar to the west is named from a toll bar on the main road north. Fawdon north of Kenton has an Anglo-Saxon name fah dun, meaning, ‘variegated hill’.
Situated west of Jesmond Dene in the mid-Ouseburn valley Jesmond was originally called Gesemue meaning, ‘Ousemouth’ even though the Ouseburn enters the Tyne a mile to the south. Jesmond must have originally covered a wider area. Medieval Jesmond belonged to Adam of Jesemuthe and Richard Emeldon, a mayor of Newcastle.
In the nineteenth century villas and terraces were built for wealthy professionals and Jesmond Dene was landscaped by William Armstrong. Jesmond church by John Dobson (1861) and the Royal Grammar School are both near the current Jesmond Metro station, but Jesmond’s most notable buildings are around West Jesmond – to the north.
A big surprise is the magnificent ‘arts and crafts’ interior of St George’s church off Osborne Road. Commissioned by Armstrong’s industrial partner, the shipbuilder Charles Mitchell and built by T.R Spence in 1886-1890, it has drawn comparison to the churches of Ravenna.
Mitchell lived in Jesmond Towers near the dene, later the home of La Sagesse School from 1906 until 2008. Nearby, off Jesmond Dene Road, Dobson’s Jesmond Dene House of 1822 was home to Armstrong’s business partner Sir Andrew Noble.
In Jesmond Dene, to the south, are the ruins of the twelfth century chapel of St Mary. It was said to have been a place of miracles including some associated with Jesus, perhaps giving rise to a theory that Jesmond means, ‘hill of Jesus’.
Benton to the north east of Jesmond has a name that simply means the settlement where beans grew or a settlement where grass called Bent grew. Most of Benton and the whole of Longbenton lie within North Tyneside.