Wynyard and the Stockton villages

Wynyard and the villages around Stockton

The impressive Wynyard Hall dominates the scenery north of Stockton and south of Sedgefield. Here, beautiful wooded parkland merges with the urban fringe of Teesside. The main settlements here are Wynyard Village, Wynyard Woods and Wynyard Park, all modern estates near the A689 and to the east near Wolviston we find Wynyard Business Park on the adjoining A19.

Wynyard Hall
Wynyard Hall. Photo © David Simpson 2018

West of Wynyard, the countryside features attractive rural villages like Bishopton and Redmarshall. Here, as at Wynyard, we are outside the former Durham coalfield that lies beyond Sedgefield to the north, so there are no former pit villages in this landscape which forms part of the low-lying countryside of the Tees vale. Most of the villages here are tiny rural communities, often with views of the Cleveland hills to the south east.

Bishopton village near Stockton
Bishopton village near Stockton. Photo © David Simpson 2018

Wynyard Hall

Wynyard lies in a wooded parkland setting and its name, which surprisingly means ‘vineyard’ goes back to Anglo-Saxon times. This was seemingly an era of milder climates as vineyards were not unknown in northern England in the medieval period. Of the vineyard at Wynyard we know nothing, other than the clue to its existence in its historic name.

Early owners of the manor of Wynyard in medieval times included Sir Hugh Capel, who owned Wynyard in the reign of Edward I. Later owners in the medieval period included the Lisles and Langtons and by the 1500s the Claxtons.

Around 1600 Wynyard was described as follows:

“so fruitfull of soyle, and pleasant of situation, soe beautified and adorned with woods and groves, as noe lands in that part of the countrie be comparable to them”.

At that time the manor house would have been a relatively humble abode compared to the grand house we see today but it was evidently already a place in a setting of beauty.

Wynyard Hall
Wynyard Hall. Photo © David Simpson 2018

In the 1700s, the manor of Wynyard passed from a family called Davison to the Tempest family of Old Durham and Sherburn. The first Tempest owner of Wynyard was John Tempest who was elected MP for Durham City on five occasions between 1768 and 1790.

When Tempest’s only son died, the estate was devised to his nephew, Sir Henry Vane of Long Newton. Sir Henry inherited Wynyard following John Tempest’s death in 1794 and took the name Vane Tempest on inheriting the estate.

Vane Tempest inherited the extensive coal mines and associated riches of the Tempest family and this contributed to his growing wealth, but he died in 1813, leaving a thirteen-year-old daughter, Lady Frances-Anne-Emily Vane Tempest, as his heiress. The coal mines and lands she inherited were initially managed by a ward called Arthur Mowbray.

At the age of nineteen, in 1819, Lady Vane Tempest married Charles William Stewart, the Baron Stewart of Mount Stewart in Ireland. Her new husband was already a man of means but he became exceptionally wealthy and powerful through the high-valued properties he inherited from his new wife.

Wynyard Hall
Wynyard Hall. Photo © David Simpson 2018

Lord Stewart and Lady Frances both took the name Vane and began the repair of the eighteenth century mansion house of the Tempests at Wynyard that formed their home. However, in 1822 Lord Stewart inherited the title and lands of his deceased brother and became the third Marquess of Londonderry.

Now an immensely wealthy aristocrat, Londonderry developed a new house at Wynyard that would be built on a colossal scale. It was built for the marquess by the architect, Phillip Wyatt, who adopted a plan devised by his brother, Benjamin Wyatt, that was originally intended for the Duke of Wellington in Hampshire.

The Duke of Wellington was a good friend of the Marquess but the Duke’s proposed house at Stratfield Staye, was never built. The new Wynyard Hall, commenced in 1822, was complete in 1828 and although two thirds were destroyed in a great fire in 1841 it was rebuilt by the Durham architect, Ignatius Bonomi, who followed Wyatt’s original plans.

The house intended for the Duke of Wellington in Hampshire was going to be called Wellington Palace and in truth Wynyard Hall that was built to its plans might be better described as a palace rather than a hall, such is its scale and grandeur.

Wynyard Hall
Wynyard Hall. Photo © David Simpson 2018

In the County Durham edition of the Buildings of England, Nikolaus Pevsner describes Wynyard Hall as “the most splendid nineteenth century mansion in the county and entirely unaffected by the romantic picturesque leanings of the age”. The overall impression of this huge and impressive Grecian style hall is that it was the home of a person of high status and power and this was certainly the case for the third Marquess of Londonderry.

As well as the grand house, features of the grounds (which once covered 7,000 acres at its height in the nineteenth century), include a 15 acre lake in the valley of the Brierley Beck and a 127 feet high obelisk to the south of the lake that commemorates the visit of the Duke of Wellington in 1827. The obelisk was completed in 1852 just as the news of the duke’s death “reached the ears of the workmen”.

Sometimes remembered for his uncompromising way of dealing with the miners who worked in his collieries, the Marquess of Londonderry’s most noted achievement was the construction of Seaham Harbour as a new coal port to rival Sunderland on the Durham coast.

Londonderry was also a noted politician, being an active member of the Tory party and was a military man of some note. A soldier from the age of sixteen, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and Adjutant General. He died in 1854 and was buried in the church at the village of Long Newton. A statue of him on horseback in the market place at Durham City depicts him in full military regalia.

The 'man on the horse' Durham
Statue of the Third Marquess of Londonderry in Durham City. Photo © David Simpson 2018

When the Marquess died in 1854 he was succeeded by his eldest son, Frederick who became the fourth Marquess of Londonderry but Frederick was his son by a previous marriage and so was not a blood relative of the Vanes and Tempests. When Frederick died in 1872, without children, George Vane Tempest (died 1884), who was the son of Charles and Frances became the fifth Marquess of Londonderry at Wynyard.

The son of the fifth marquess, a Charles Vane Tempest Stewart became the sixth marquess and his son, the seventh marquess, also called Charles Vane Tempest Stewart (1878-1949) succeeded. The seventh marquess, a politician, is best remembered for his meetings with Hitler, Hess and other Nazi leaders during the pre-war years of the 1930s and the visit of a leading Nazi Von Ribbentrop to his home at Wynyard was one moment of controversy.

Following the death of the marquess in 1949 he was succeeded by his son, the eighth marquess (1902-1955), another politician of the same name. His son and successor, the ninth marquess, Alistair Vane Tempest (1937-2012) was the last of the Londonderrys to reside at Wynyard.

In 1987 the ninth marquess sold the Wynyard Estate to the businessman Sir John Hall, developer of the MetroCentre, initially as a private residence and including 5,000 acres of parkland. The hall was extensively repaired and is now a high status hotel owned by the Hall family.

Thorpe Thewles and Grindon

Thorpe Thewles lies about a mile south west of Wynyard and about the same distance to the north west of the outskirts of Stockton-on-Tees. The village is situated alongside the A177 which was old historic turnpike road between Durham City and Stockton.

The ‘Thorpe’ part of the name shows that it has Viking origins, there being a handful of ‘Thorpe’ names in this former south east corner of County Durham. Thorpes were minor settlements, or outlying hamlets but were of less significance than the Viking place-names ending in ‘by’ of which the nearest example is Aislaby on the north side of the Tees near Yarm. Names ending in ‘by’ are very common south of the Tees, however.

The ‘Thewles’ part of the name of Thorpe Thewles came later and is probably from a family name, though northing is known of this family or the connection with Thorpe Thewles. Originally just called Thorp, the village is first recorded as ‘Thorptheules’ in the late thirteenth century. Thewles comes from ‘thewl-less’ meaning ‘lacking in morals’. It is possible that the place-name itself means ‘immoral hamlet’ for reasons unknown.

Hamilton Russell, Thorpe Thewles
The Hamilton Russell, Thorpe Thewles. Photo © David Simpson 2018

The first family associated with Thorpe Thewles with any certainty were the Thorp family who took their name from the place and are first mentioned in 1200 when Margaret the daughter of Godefrid de Thorp (along with her husband Roger de Stotfaldia) granted land here to Stephen de Elwick who subsequently gave these lands to Finchale Priory near Durham.

Later owners in Thorpe Thewles included the Hiltons, Blakistons and Bulmers. The Davisons of Wynyard also held land here. There is a Londonderry connection at Thorpe Thewles which comes in the shape of the village pub called the Vane Arms and dates to the eighteenth or possibly the seventeenth century.

The church in Thorpe Thewles is dedicated to St James and dates from the 1880s. It  succeeded an earlier church in the village that was built in the 1840s and subsequently demolished. This in turn had replaced an earlier church at the nearby hamlet of Grindon, a mile to the north, near Thorpe Larches. Grindon is probably a shrunken medieval village and its name means ‘green hill’. It should not be confused with the deserted medieval village of high Grindon near Great Stainton about five miles to the west.

The ruins of Grindon church, once dedicated to St Thomas a Becket can still be seen. First mentioned in the 1100s, the church was built by Bishop Pudsey of Durham, possibly on the site of an earlier church and underwent rebuilding in 1789 but now lies in ruins.

The medieval parish and township of Grindon included Wynyard, Thorpe Thewles and a tiny farming hamlet called Fulthorpe that lies between the last two places. Fulthorpe means the ‘foul or dirty hamlet’ and once belonged to the Hamilton Russell family of Brancepeth Castle otherwise known as the Viscounts Boyne. They also owned some land in Thorpe Thewles which accounts for the name of the pub there.

The pleasant footpath and cycleway called the Castle Eden walkway commences at Thorpe Thewles and heads north to Castle Eden along a former railway route that was one the Stockton and Castle Eden branch of the North Eastern Railway. It passes through Grindon near the western edges of the Wynyard estate. The village of Thorpe Larches nearby, alongside the A177 is purely a twentieth century development in a pleasant setting. It is named from a nearby plantation of larch trees.

Along the A177 a mile to the north of Thorpe Larches towards Sedgefield is the deserted medieval village of Layton and about a mile to the west of Thorpe Larches near a hamlet called Foxton is the site of another deserted medieval village called Shotton.

Carlton

Returning to Thorpe Thewles, we find the villages of Stillington to its west and Carlton and Redmarshall to the south west. Carlton means the ‘village of the churl or free peasant’. It was probably originally Charlton but became Carlton due Norse influence in the area.

It is thought that Carlton may have been part of a large medieval estate dating back to Anglo-Saxon that consisted of Carlton, Norton and Stockton of which Norton would have been the centre. The village of Carlton lies just over a mile west of the present outskirts of Stockton.

Smiths Arms, Carlton
Smiths Arms, Carlton. Photo © David Simpson 2018

Carlton is mentioned in Durham’s Boldon Book of 1183 when there were 23 farmers here. Land holders at that time included William, Son of Orm  (an interesting father to son transition from a Viking  name to a Norman one that was typical of this era). Other mentioned land holders were Gerbrode, Elias and Walter the Miller.

Later, in the 1300s, it was recorded that two Carlton men, a William Umfray and John De Neseham had to carry out the repair of the manor house at Stockton when it was expected of them (the manor house being Stockton Castle) as well as repairing the roof of a mill in that town.

There is no church in Carlton but there is a Methodist chapel at the east end of the village that dates from 1871. The village pub, the Smiths Arms, stands near the former site of a blacksmiths.

Church of St Cuthbert, Redmarshall
Church of St Cuthbert, Redmarshall. Photo © David Simpson 2018

Redmarshall

The village of Redmarshall is only half a mile west of Carlton. In place-names ‘red’ can mean either the colour red or reeds of grass and at first glance this looks like it would be the ‘reedy-marshy-haugh or hall’ but the earliest spellings show that it comes from ‘red meres hill’ and means the ‘hill overlooking the red meres’. Meres are lakes or ponds, and this is seemingly a reference to the water that would often collect on the red clay of the district.

Farm house, Redmarshall
Farm house, Redmarshall. Photo © David Simpson 2018

In the late thirteenth century Redmarshall belonged to the brother of Antony Bek, the powerful Prince Bishop of Durham. The brother was John Bek of Eresby in Linconshire and was granted Redmarshall by the bishop. Bek sold it to the Moultons and it later passed to the Lisle family of Wynyard. In 1569 five people from Redmarshall were involved in the Rising of the North rebellion against Elizabeth I and one of the villagers was later executed.

Redmarshall belonged to the Claxtons until 1596 but was then divided following the death of William Claxton in that year and later owners included the Tempests and the Londonderrys of Wynyard.

Redmarshall rectory
Rectory near the church, Redmarshall. Photo © David Simpson 2018

Redmarshall church, dedicated to St Cuthbert, dates from Norman times and the tower was built in that era with later additions and modifications in the 1200s and 1300s. There are effigies of the Langton family inside.

Whitton, Stillington and Old Stillington

Whitton, a small village about a mile to the north of Redmarshall, historically belonged to Sherburn Hospital near Durham. Families associated with the village in  times past included the Hutchinsons who lived at Whitton House.

Whitton
Whitton. Photo © David Simpson 2018

There is no church at Whitton as it historically formed part of the parish of Grindon. Despite the white painted houses in the village, the Anglo-Saxon name Whitton means ‘farm or village belonging to someone called Hwitte or Hwitta’ rather than being ‘the white place’.

Stillington, about three quarters of a mile north of Whitton is  the most industrialised of the villages between Stockton and Sedgefield but only slightly so and is in a pleasant rural setting. It grew in empty fields with the establishment, in 1865, of the Carlton Iron Works alongside the railway here (then called the Clarence Railway) and a small village of terraced streets grew alongside.

Stillington church
Stillington church of 1880. Photo © David Simpson 2018

The Carlton works once owned collieries at Mainsforth and East Howle near Ferryhill to the north and an ironstone mine at Rosedale in the Cleveland area of Yorkshire. The works were purchased by the Dorman Long iron company of Middlesbrough in the 1920s but mostly because that company wished to purchase the Carlton-owned coal mines. Today the Stillington Industrial Estate occupies the site of the works and this is now home to Darchem Engineering.

Stillington has seen expansion with the building of two modern housing estates in more recent times but some of the older terraces of the iron works village can be seen as well as well as the red brick church of St John that was built to serve that community. It was opened in 1880.

Old Stillington
Old Stillington. Photo © David Simpson 2018

Just over half a mile to the south west of Stillington is the smaller farming hamlet of Old Stillington which was the original Stillington. The name is thought to mean the farm or estate belonging to an Anglo-Saxon called Styfel or Styfela. It was always simply called Stillington and the prefix ‘Old’ only became necessary when the new iron works village grew to its east.

Countryside near Old Stillington
Low lying countryside near Old Stillington. Photo © David Simpson 2018

In historic times Old Stillington belonged to Merton College, Oxford and in 1367 William De Pole held land here of the master of that college. In 1569 five villagers from Old Stillington  took part in the rebellion of that year and one was executed. A family called Morpeth resided here in the 1600s.

Bishopton village
Bishopton village. Photo © David Simpson 2018

Bishopton

Bishopton is a handsome village about a mile west of Redmarshall and a mile south of Old Stillington. In the 1850s it was described as “a pleasant village on an eminence about six miles west-north-west of Stockton and consists of two rows of good houses” and this description is still true today though the village has seen growth to the north and south east since that time.

The Talbot, Bishopton
The Talbot, Bishopton. Photo © David Simpson 2018

Back in the 1850s there were five public houses, two blacksmiths, a joiner, a post office and a number of tradesmen and shopkeepers. Today the most notable features of the village are the church, two pubs – the Talbot and Blue Bell – and the prominent, impressive mounds of a Norman motte and bailey castle at the south east end of the village.

Bishopton means ‘the estate of the Bishop’ and was granted to Roger Conyers by Ranulf Flambard who was the Bishop of Durham from 1099 to 1128.

Flambard was succeeded as bishop by Bishop Galfrid Rufus upon whose death in 1140, the bishopric of Durham was usurped by William Cumin who appointed himself the new Prince Bishop.

Earthworks of motte and bailey castle at Bishopton
Earthworks of motte and bailey castle at Bishopton. Photo © David Simpson 2018

Cumin was a Scot working on behalf of King David and had been a close confidant of Bishop Rufus. Cumin and David, the King of Scotland saw the opportunity of seizing Durham as at that time there was an ongoing civil war between the supporters of King Stephen of England and the Empress Matilda who claimed the English crown. King David was already making claim to Northumberland through his son, Henry who was the Earl of Northumberland and at that time Northumberland included the extensive lands in the Tees valley that formed the district of Sadberge.

Cumin ousted Roger Conyers who was the Constable of Durham Castle and seized Durham Castle from where he began his tyrannical rule of the bishopric. Conyers took refuge at Bishopton, where he fortified his manor house into an impressive castle that withstood the sieges of Cumin’s army at Bishopton. In the meantime the monks of Durham worked hard to communicate with the pope to have Cumin’s usurpation overthrown. When the true Bishop of Durham William St Barbara arrived in his bishopric he took refuge with Conyers at Bishopton Castle.

Bishopton village from Castle Hill
Bishopton village from Castle Hill. Photo © David Simpson 2018

St Barbara attempted to visit Durham City and take up his office but was attacked by Cumin’s retainers at St Giles church, Gilesgate on the outskirts of the city. St Barbara took refuge again at Bishopton and then at Thornley which he had fortified. He headed north to Northumberland but was attacked by borderers working for Cumin. He then took refuge at Jarrow church and then fled to Lindisfarne where he heard news that Thornley had been lost.

Thornley had been captured by Earl Henry of Northumberland working on behalf of Cuumin and King David. Cumin seems to have gained widespread support across Northumberland and Durham or was perhaps widely feared given as he had a reputation for torture and cruelty. In Durham only the Escollands, Bulmers and Conyers himself opposed him amongst the lords of the manors. In 1143 the three lords almost captured Cumin at Kirk Merrington church which he had fortified but Cumin escaped.

Earthworks of motte and bailey castle at Bishopton
Earthworks of motte and bailey castle at Bishopton. Photo © David Simpson 2018

Eventually, however, it was the failure of Matilda,  on whose support Cumin relied, in the civil war, that led to Cumin’s surrender and St Barbara’s eventual instalment as Prince Bishop. Remarkably, Cumin was pardoned and in 1144 William St Barbara took up the post of Prince Bishop.

The remains of Conyers castle built in the 1140s at Castle Hill on the outskirts of Bishopton are quite impressive featuring a forty feet high motte or mound that formed its centre piece and surrounding double ditches that are thought to have been flooded by the nearby Bishopton Beck as an additional defence.

Bishopton village
Bishopton village. Photo © David Simpson 2018

It’s an interesting and thought provoking landmark when we consider that if history had taken a different course Northumberland and Durham might have ended up permanently located within the kingdom of Scotland.

It is possible that the fort constructed by Conyers at Bishopton was built on the site of an earlier earthwork perhaps of Danish origin. If it was simply built from scratch in response to the events of the 1140s, it makes the remaining earthworks all the more impressive.

The Conyers family are most famously associated with the slaying of a legendary beast called the Sockburn Worm near Middleton St George, but the slaying of that beast is attributed to a Sir John Conyers. It has sometimes been suggested that the worm was a metaphor for the tyrannical activities of Cumin and that the story was perhaps adapted from an earlier myth of Viking origin.

However, although the Conyers family were also Lords of Sockburn and that was the place where new bishops of Durham traditionally entered the diocese in a ceremony that recalled the slaying of the beast, there is no known evidence of a connection with Cumin.

Bishopton church of St Peter.
Bishopton church of St Peter. Photo © David Simpson 2018

The church of St Peter at Bishopton is partly medieval but underwent much rebuilding in the 1840s. The outer wall features an interesting sun dial dated to 1776. In medieval times the church, being a Norman foundation was granted along with Sockburn church by Roger Conyers to Sherburn Hospital near Durham and the hospital received tithes of wool and lamb from the Glebe lands of Bishopton church in the early nineteenth century.

Sun dial Bishopton church
Sun dial Bishopton church. Photo © David Simpson 2018

In 1569 sixteen people from Bishopton, who would have been tenants of the Conyers family took part in the rebellion against the Queen but Conyers himself did not support this. Four of the Bishopton rebels were executed.

The Conyers family continued to own Bishopton until 1613 when Sir George Conyers and his son also called George sold off their land to their tenants, with the Bishopton purchasers including the Forwoods, Elstobs, Jacksons, Humfrays, Buckles the last of whom mentioned owned a mill at Bishopton along with a dam.

Bishopton village
Bishopton village. Photo © David Simpson 2018

About a mile south of Bishopton we find the farming hamlets of East Newbiggin and West Newbiggin. Newbiggin means ‘new building’ . In medieval times they belonged to the Conyers family. The two farms are less than mile apart. West Newbiggin seems to have been the original settlement and was a moated site.

About a mile to the south west of West Newbiggin is the village of Sadberge, once the centre of a Viking wapentake and situated on the Roman road from Sedgefield and Great Stainton. A mile  east of East Newbiggin is the hamlet of Whinny Hill. Its name comes from the word ‘whin’, which is an alternative name for gorse.  A little over a mile to the south is the A66 Darlington to Stockton road and the neighbouring villages of Long Newton and Elton.

Long Newton

Long Newton (which sometimes occurs on maps as one word Longnewton) means the ‘long new settlement’ and stretches along the old road between Darlington and Stockton though it is now bypassed on its north side by the busy A66 road. The village was once part of the lordship of Gainford and belonged to the Baliol family in Norman times who are best known for their links to Barnard Castle.

Long Newton
Long Newton. Photo © David Simpson 2018

The Baliols were the most powerful barons in Durham and in the thirteenth century came into conflict with the Bishop of Durham himself. Followers of John Baliol caused great offence to the bishop, Walter Kirkham, after breaking into the church at Long Newton in 1255 and committing violent acts. Kirkham excommunicated Baliol’s men and refused them bail.

Tensions between the Bishop and Baliol increased and as the bishop and his men passed through a wood at an unknown location the bishop was waylaid by Eustace and Jocelyn Baliol and other Baliol retainers and the bishop was insulted and manhandled. Four of the bishop’s men were taken hostage and imprisoned in Barnard Castle. The king was called to intervene and ultimately the penance that Baliol paid for the insults and sacrilege involved the setting up of a college at Oxford – the famous Baliol College.

Baliol’s son, another John Baliol also owned Gainford, Barnard Castle and Long Newton even after he became the King of Scotland in 1292. His claims to the Scottish throne had been supported by King Edward I – who acted as kingmaker – favouring Baliol’s claims over Robert the Bruce. However Baliol was persistently humiliated by Edward and ultimately sided with King Philip of France. Edward invaded Scotland and Baliol was forced to abdicate at Montrose in 1296. He was stripped of his lands in England including Long Newton.

Long Newton church
Long Newton church. Photo © David Simpson 2018

Long Newton came into the possession of the Beauchamps who were Earls of Warwick and the Surtees family held land under them at Long Newton. The Conyers and Killinghall families also owned land at Long Newton though in 1569, a Ralph Conyers of Long Newton was stripped of his land for his part in the Rising of the North.

The family most closely associated with Long Newton were, however, the Vanes who acquired Long Newton around 1647. Sir  George Vane (1618-1679) was the first to be associated with Long Newton and was the fourth son of Sir Henry Vane the Elder, a noted politician who had acquired Raby Castle in 1626.

The Vane Arms, Long Newton
The Vane Arms, Long Newton. Photo © David Simpson 2018

It was Sir George’s great grandson, Sir Henry Vane who married Frances Tempest of Wynyard and Old Durham. Their son, Sir Henry Vane Tempest inherited Wynyard on the death of his uncle John Tempest in 1794. Henry and his father were both buried at Long Newton church. It was Lady Frances-Anne-Emily Vane Tempest, the daughter of the younger Sir Henry Vane Tempest who married the third Marquess of Londonderry. The family name and title is still recalled in the village pubs – The Vane Arms and The Derry in the village.

The Derry, Long Newton
The Derry, Long Newton. Photo © David Simpson 2018

Sadly, despite its long and illustrious history, the present church of St Mary at Long Newton is not the original medieval edifice as it was rebuilt in 1806 and again in 1857.

In the 1850s Long Newton was described as extending about half a mile in length and consisting of irregularly built houses scattered along the sides of the road. The description of that time also records that the manor house of the Vane family – a large brick house – had long since been removed.

Today the village has a pleasant rural feel despite its close proximity to the A66. The villages of Sadberge and Middleton St George are respectively two miles along the roads to the west and south west. Before reaching Middleton St George the road from Long Newton passes High Goosepool Farm and the site of a deserted village called West Hartburn. To the south east of Long Newton another road leads a mile and half south east to Urlay Nook near Eaglescliffe.

Elton

About a mile to the east towards Stockton and like Long Newton just off the A66 is the village of Elton near the outskirts of Stockton-on-Tees. Its name means ‘the place where eels are obtained’. Such fish were presumably taken from the adjoining Hartburn and Coatham Becks just to the south of the village.

Elton is a smaller village than Long Newton and has long been so, though in 1569 four persons from this hamlet are known to have been involved in the Rising of the North rebellion, one of whom was executed. The little church in the village, dedicated to St John is only 52 feet long and is partly Norman and medieval but mostly dates from its rebuilding in 1841.

Elton is first mentioned in Saxon times when it was given by the first Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Durham, Aldhun (bishop 990-1018) along with Skerningham and Barmpton near Darlington to Uchtred of Bamburgh, the Earl of Northumberland when the earl married Aldhun’s daughter, Ecgfrida. The lands were later returned to the bishop along with the daughter, by Uchtred. Later she married a Yorkshire thane called Kilvert. He also sent her back. Later she became a nun.

In the early 1200s Elton belonged to William De Homez and later owners up and into the 1500s included the Gower and Bowes families. Later still, owners included the Sergeantsons of Preston-le-Skerne, Jeffersons of Elton and Hoggs of Norton as well as the Erringtons, the Shafos of Whitworth and the Wades of Fatfield.

The Sutton family of Hartburn and Stockton held much land at Elton from the mid 19th century and are remembered in the name of the Sutton Arms pub to the west of the village. The most prominent building in Elton itself is Elton Hall, now a care home which dates from around 1913 in replaced an earlier hall that had been the home to the Suttons. During the Second World War, the hall was used by the Women’s Royal Naval Service.

South of Elton is Coatham Stob, which has a name that derives from the word ‘cotum’, meaning cottages or shelters and the stub or stob of some tree or cross. It was also once known as Coatham Conyers from the Conyers family who owned it from 1379 to 1569 and in earlier times it belonged to the Surtees family. In a later period it belonged to the Suttons of Elton.

The road south from Elton leads south to the level crossing at Allens West in Eaglescliffe which is located on the railway from Darlington to Stockton. To the east is Preston on Tees home to the famous Preston Park.

Half a mile east of Elton village across a couple of roundabouts above the busy A66 we enter the outskirts of Stockton-on-Tees at Hartburn.

Hartburn

Hartburn is the name of a Stockton suburb but is also the name of an earlier village of that name that has been absorbed by Stockton’s growth. The village wasn’t absorbed by Stockton until around the middle of the twentieth century but the older houses and leafy main street still exist within this pleasant Stockton suburb.  Notable houses in the village include Hartburn House and Hartburn Farm House of the eighteenth century and a house in ‘the village’ main street that dates from the seventeenth century.

Hartburn means the ‘stream of the stag’ taking its name from what was originally simply called the Hart Burn but now long called the Hartburn Beck with the addition of ‘beck’ the Viking word often used for a stream in south Durham and Yorkshire. The village was sometimes called East Hartburn in the past to distinguish it from West Hartburn, an abandoned medieval village on the same stream about four miles to the west near Middleton St George.

Hartburn is first mentioned  in 1183 in the Boldon Book, Durham’s equivalent of the Domesday Book. It mentions that two cottagers hele ‘tofts and crofts’ and 24 acres in the fields and mentions that Alan son of Osbert, held a bovate of land (around 15 to 20 acres).

Interestingly under the Boldon Book entry for Washington, a mention is made of William of Hartburn who had given his lands at Hartburn to the Bishop of Durham in exchange for Washington. William’s descendants took the name Washington (Wesyngton) and he was the direct ancestor of George Washington, first President of the United States from whom the American capital city is of course now named. Perhaps if he had kept the name Hartburn we may now have had a US capital city called Hartburn DC.

Stockton-on-TeesBillingham Norton

Yarm and Eaglescliffe 

 Sedgefield

Darlington Croft, Sockburn and Sadberge

Hartlepool villages | Hartlepool

Castle Eden and Crimdon  | Aycliffe and the Skerne

Middlesbrough Around Middlesbrough

Guisborough and Cleveland | Cleveland Coast

Home

North East Regional Hub and Portal