A History of Hamsterley

(Our thanks go to Jonathan Peacock for contributing this history, and for a number of other historical records. N.B. The appendices to the history document have not yet been included.)

The ancient chapelry

The ancient chapelry of Hamsterley encompassed what is now called the parish of Hamsterley and South Bedburn, containing those two townships, and the parish of Lynsack and Softley, which was formed in June 1850 out of the southern part of Hamsterley parish, following the building of the church there in 1847-8.  It covers the southern shoulder of Weardale, where the high land runs round into Teesdale,

Hamsterley itself is an ancient settlement whose name [i] (according to the Oxford Dictionary of Place Names) in Old English was derived from the leah, a grove, or open place in woodland, of the ham(e)stra, corn-weevils.  This is still an amazingly apt name, in view of the regular invasions that our garden continuously suffers from these voracious insects.  Indeed, they would certainly destroy the garden in the late spring if we did not fight back.  Other commentators have chosen to relate it to an ancient variant Holmsterlee, where the holme signifies a flat near a river and lee is applied to places on hill sides above holmes. Bedburn is less contentious, being accepted as Breda’s burn. In Lynesack the second element is probably OE āc, oak, and the first element is a personal name.  Softley was very simply the “Soft leah”, referring to soft or spongy soil.

The township of South Bedburn was originally one of the townships within the Manor of Wolsingham which belonged to the Bishop of Durham.  Hamsterley, substantially surrounded by South Bedburn, was a Manor under Witton Castle and a chapelry which is part of the parish of Auckland St. Andrew before that was divided.  Church dues from Hamsterley chapelry formed part of the income of one of the Canons at the Collegiate Church of Auckland St. Andrew before its dissolution by Henry VIII.  Within the Diocese of Durham, Hamsterley fell into the Deanery of Darlington.  In 1828 the Parson and White Directory reported that “the scenery in this township is bold and picturesque, particularly in the vicinity of the beautiful villas at Hoppy-Land-Park, Shull and Redford Grove, where the banks of the Wear and the Bedburn are decorated with sylvan ornaments”.

The Castles at South Bedburn is the remains of a large stone-built enclosure. It is surrounded by a large dry-stone rubble wall. It is thought to be of Iron Age origins, and was examined by the TV archaeological programme Time Team in early 2007.  The find of an Iron Age (800BC to AD43) quern stone, in association with the site probably confirms this, but the finding of few other artefacts merely puts it in the same class as other north eastern Iron Age sites, which were notably bereft of  valuable remains (an early north-south divide?).  Other possible uses have included that of a Roman (AD43 to 410) camp for workers in lead mines in Weardale.

In an article published in 2000, Raymond Selkirk argued that the road south from Wolsingham by Doctor’s Gate and crossing the Bedburn at Redford in the forest (near Redford Grove, now called just The Grove) was a Roman road, running from an acknowledged Roman site at Chapel Walls in Wolsingham.

The original clearing of Wolsingham Moor or Waste was obviously begun in very early times, and to begin with was the extension of natural clearings to create summer pasture.  The memory of this style of agricultural development is preserved in the place-name “Shield”, as in Redgate Shield, which is the Middle English schēle, or shepherd’s summer hut.  As one would expect, the earliest settlements were along the edges of the streams, the Bed Burn, the Lynn Burn and Euden Beck, all being ultimately tributaries of the Wear.

The village, and indeed the area, has always been based on agriculture.  However, the local population was inevitably supported by cottage industries, and there were several mills (not, as is commonly quoted, two).  There were two on the Lynburn at Beckside and at Podge Hole and several on the Bedburn and its tributaries, including Shull Farm mill (below Dryderdale  Farm, called Hartop Mill in 1861) and Castle Mill (below Burnley Row, so called  in the 1841 census, Witton Mill in 1851 and Fitches Mill in 1861) on the Harthope.  Indeed, there were two fulling mills (one specifically said to be water-powered) as early as 1380, listed in the Hatfield Survey.  During the 19th century there was significant coal mining, and for a period there was a manufactory at the Bedburn mill – on the site of one of the fulling mills.  There was also extensive coal extraction in the south of the parish, in the area called Southside, which was later to become the separated parish of Lynesack & Softley.

Mediaeval times

Hamsterley as a village probably developed in the period of 1100 to 1250.  It is a typical “green village” involving linear development on each side of a village green.  In The Green Village of County Durham [ii] Brian Roberts has analysed the sequential development of villages throughout Aucklandshire, spreading outwards from the town of Auckland, and Hamsterley would appear to fit the pattern.  The church of St James, with its Norman south door and remains of 13th century architecture, would appear to fit this period.  It contains Saxon grave coverings, which might also confirm earlier settlements in the area, although whether there was a significant Saxon church is probably unlikely. It is more likely there was a square Norman chapel of ease which pre-dated the village

In the early mediaeval period neither South Bedburn nor Hamsterley were of sufficient importance to be given their own entry in the Boldon Book [iii]. This was the survey of the lands held by the Bishop of Durham which was carried out in 1183 on the instruction of Bishop Hugh du Puiset, in imitation of the Domesday Book, which had surveyed most of the rest of England one hundred years earlier.  In the Bolden Book there were entries for West Auckland and Wolsingham, where 300 acres were under cultivation by the villeins, and a further 413 acres held by a variety of named individuals (“William the priest holds 40 acres and pays 1 mark”, “Robert the Scot 48 acres and pays 8s and does forest service like Roger of Bradley”), for which they did service and paid rent.  This perhaps indicates that our villages are 13th rather than 12th century in origin, although the land was clearly being farmed before that.

The siting of the church outside the village had long been a topic of interest and debate.  It seems that the earliest part of the structure probably pre-dates the village, since the simple Norman architecture of the south door implies 11th or 12th century work.  So one can assume the church is on the site of a very early place of worship, and that the village grew up later a few hundred yards away.  While there is a spring, the Lady Well, near to and below the church, it is possible the village grew up away from the church around the pond.  This may have begun as a dew pond, which is normally placed on the crest of a ridge, and is possibly of a very early date.  The main part of the church architecture is in the Early Decorated style, suggesting a date of about the end of the 13th century, which would fit with the suggested date of development of the village.

The evolution of land area in cultivation can be based on the Inclosure Act of 1758, which described the area of Hamsterley Chapelry as 14,402 acres.  In 1380 the Hatfield Survey indicates that 1,436 acres was in use, or 10%.  In spite of the larger areas allotted in 1760 – a total of 8,927 acres, or 62%, the area defined as in cultivation in 1844 at the time of the Tithe Redemption survey was only 5,183, or 36%.  It can thus be seen that the areas “enclosed” in 1760 largely remained as open moorland, but now had private ownership.

The 13th century

On 6 May 1218 there was a confirmation by Richard [Marsh], bishop of Durham, of a grant by Philip [of Poitiers] bishop of Durham [from 1197 to 1208], to Bartholomew de Marisco of 120 acres of land in ‘Meland’ [Mayland] that Philip had granted to Ralph de Bires to hold of Bartholomew at an annual rent of 60 shillings.  The witnesses were Simon, archdeacon of Durham; Alan, archdeacon of Northumberland; Thomas de Lichefeld; Simon de Talington; Robert Morell; Mathew de Winterburn; Nicholas de Hadham; William de Roynges4.

In an Assize roll of 27 Henry III (1243) two sons of Ade of Darlington robbed Robert son of William of Hamsterley at Moorhill (mora de Morhil).  They were hanged for the crime (Surtees Soc pub 127).

During the 13th century there was a charter5 whereby John de Heley confirms to Thomas de Brakanberi, and heirs, or assigns, the land, with appurtenances, which he, John, held of Thomas de Amundiswille in the parish of Hamsterley near the fishpond towards the west. To hold of Heley to Brakanberi and heirs or assigns or to whomsoever Brakanberi should wish to give or sell it; paying yearly to the lord Thomas de Amundiswille and heirs 5s. for all services, suit of court [etc.], excepting foreign service. John and heirs warrant. Witnesses: Dno. Johe. de Hamildone, dno. Gilberto de Heworth, militibus, Symone de turribus, Ricardo de Cheswich, Waltero de Holigsyde, Thoma cancellario, dno. Rogero tunc capellano de Hamsterley.

The 14th century

In a document6 of about 1334 Philip de Preston shows that he and Joan his wife, who recently died, was disseised 10 years earlier by Bishop Louis of lands and rents in Billy Row, Hamsterley and Shipley, all of Joan’s inheritance because they resided in Berwick. Preston requests that the king order by his letters to the bishop of Durham to make restitution of the lands and rents according to the conditions of the agreement that each man of the condition have his lands and tenements in England and Scotland notwithstanding any seisins or possessions made before the agreement by anyone whatsoever in times of other kings of England or Scotland.  Let a writ containing the effect of the petition be sent to the bishop of Durham that he should hear the complaint of Philip, and do justice to him, and Philip should sue before him by process.  The guard comments suggest a date range of 1333-43, though probably not long after the recapture of Berwick in 1333. As it must date to after the pontificate of Louis de Beaumont, and it is unlikely that the Prestons would petition whilst Berwick was still in Scottish hands, this must date to after 1333. However the guard’s date range depends on the petition referring to the disseisin made 10 years earlier under Bishop Beaumont. As Beaumont was bishop from 1318-33, the petition could potentially be as late as 1343. However this is very unlikely, and a date of c.1334 seems far more probable.  The story does not end there, as poor Philip was to learn how unwise it was to appeal to the King against such a powerful magnate as the Bishop.  On 24th October 1347 the land of which he sought restitution was granted by Bishop Hatfield to John Macy, and he himself was an outlaw7!

In Bishop Bury’s time (1333-1345), by an inquisition taken on the death of William de Foxcotes, it appears that he died seized of four messuages and nineteen acres of land in Hamsterley, held of the heirs of the Lord John de Hamildon7.

In 1337 Thomas, son of Thomas de Bolton of Carlisle diocese, was ordained non-beneficed priest to the title of patrimony in Hamsterley8.

In Durham there is a document (in Latin) of 8 January 1363/49. Dated apud Thrustanton die Lunae proxima post festum Epiphaniae Dni. anno Domini millesimo ccclx tercio, it is “witnessing that William son of Richard de Kellawe has confirmed to Peter de Fenewyk and to Nicholas de Kellawe, chaplain, his manor of Aldpark with his lands and tenements [etc.], in the vills of Thrustanton, Huthworthbryan, Corneford, Plausworth, and a field called Grymesclos in Hamsterley. To have to Peter and Nicholas and assigns, of the chief lords; paying yearly to William and heirs £20. Power to distrain and re-enter. Warrant clause. Wituesses: Robt. de Brakenbury, Willo. de Hett, Ricardo del Park, Ricardo de Hett de Fery, Robt. de Meryngton, Johne. fratre eius, Nicholao filio Simonis de Kellaw, Rogero de Whassyngton.

When bishop Hatfield’s Survey10 was carried out in 1377-1382  “Willelmi de Brakenbury” still held Parva Mayland in South Bedburn, valued at 12d, while Robert held West Shipley and 90 acres of land, for which he paid 3s 2d.  It is noticeable that Hamsterley is only mentioned in the General Receiver’s Role, while South Bedburn and Lynsa(c)k are given quite long entries.  At this time the parish contained an identified 1,436 acres of enclosed land and 78 houses (demesnes or tofts), which had a total annual value of £32-17-8.  The largest holdings were Mayland (100 acres), East Shipley (100), West Shipley (90) and Bitforth (no area declared), all described as manors, and Hopyland (also no declared area), which was a “vill” or hamlet.  One can also note that Grymesclos, which was held by Nicholas de Kellawe in 1363/4 (v.s.) is now held by William de Kellawe (his son?).  The full list of holdings is given in Appendix II.

The 15th century

In about 1450, Ralph Hamsterley was born.  He was appointed a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, in 1476, and was proctor of the University in 1481.  He was MA 13 March 1507/8.  He was rector Washington, county Durham, from 1486 to 1500, and of St Andrew’s, Oddington, Oxfordshire, from 1499 to 1507, where a monumental brass was prepared for him before his death (the dates are not filled in), although he was not buried there.  He became principal of St Alban Hall (originally an ancient (12th century) independent place of learning owned by Littlemore Convent, and purchased by Merton at the time of the Dissolution in 1548) and then Master of University College, Oxford from 1509 until his death, while at the same time being rector of Great Birch, Essex from 1512.  He died on 4th August 1518 and was buried in Merton College chapel, where he has another brass.

The 16th century

In 1536 John Mylner paid 6s per annum for a tenement11.

Prior to the Dissolution (of the monasteries) in 1547, the church was prebendal to Auckland College; and it contained a chantry or guild, from which Rowland Brown, the last incumbent, received an annual pension of £2 4s in 1553.  The Acts of 1536 (Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries) and 1539 (Dissolution of the Greater Monasteries) led to the seizing of the property (with much destruction, selling off and granting to friends) by the Crown.  As part of the dissolution, an inventory was taken of church goods in 1547-5812; this listed that in 1552 Hamsterley had “a chalice of sylver weying vii ounces, two belles hanging in the churche”.  At this time Witton only had a “chalice of tyne”.  In the 1555 valuation “ the guilde of Hamsterley in Aukeland” had “money founde there, to the some of vii li (£7).”  Following the dissolution, in 1562, the curacy was bestowed on Robert Melmorbie.  At this time there were worries closer to home than Auckland.  The convent in the village will also have been suppressed, which will probably have effected every one.  The convent was sited 600 hundred yards due west of Linburn Hall, on the high land south of Bedburn Beck.  Today all memory of it is lost, and we do not even know what it was called, or to which mother house it owed allegiance.  The last traces of the walls were finally removed in 1853, at which only some “curiously carved” stones were found.  There is no mention of it in either Sir William Dugdale’s “Monasticon Anglicorum” of 1655 or in Tanner’s “Notitia Monasticum” of 1744, both held to be very complete works.

During the Bishop’s visitation of 1577 Christopher Claxton, curate, was found to have no licence, and was prohibited to serve.  At the time Christopher Hodgson was Parish Clerk and Robert Dowson, William Maddyson and Andrew Stoke were churchwardens (Surtees Soc pub 22).

In 1580 the Halmote Court13 recorded that William Cooke had a holding of land for 10 shillings per annum.  There was also a lease dated 24th January 18 QE (1574/5) “in lotery” per Mr Cliffe in the name of William Cliffe at £10.

In 1580’s Witton was held by William, Lord Eure.  His kinsman, Ra or Ralffe Ewriw or Ewrie (sic) lived at “Edgnoll”, and caused great family embarrassment by marrying beneath his station.

In 1598 the state of the church was not creditable to the Vicar or Churchwardens.  “Their Communion Book is torn and wants some parts thereof, their church is in decay and the slates are blown down”

The 17th century

In the Durham Quarter Sessions14 on 16th July 1612 Christopher Atcheson, yeoman was brought before the court charged that on 25th April at Pontop he broke the close and wood of Anthony Meaborne and felled 40 ash trees, 60 hazel wands and 10 oak saplings worth 40s.  On 20th October 1616 Agnes Fenwick of Hamsterley, among others, was convicted of not attending church for two months (no penalty quoted).

In 1606 William Barnes, gentleman, of Bedburn Park died.  He also owned the largest house in Darlington, so was clearly a man of great wealth.  His widow Barbara married John Lisle, and died herself in 1623, the same year as her second husband (see Hamsterley Wills in Durham).  Both wills include extensive inventories.

In the early 1600’s Witton Castle was held by Aron Abdall, and in 1638 William Darcy, William Belasis and Gerard Salvyn won an action against him for the manors of Witton and Hamsterley together with 130 messuages, 30 bars, 4 mills, 4 dovecotes, 50 gardens, 50 orchards, 1,000 acres of land, 1,000 acres of meadow, 3,000 acres of pasture, 500 acres of wood, 2,000 acres of furze and heath, 10,000 acres of moor, 100s of rent in 10 local villages and free fishing in the Wear15.

On 28th July 1627 Thomas Dobbison was buried in the churchyard.  He was probably about 55 years old, and had been a widower for 13 years.  He lived at Southside, and held closes at Milburne, White Close and Inner Shawe.  He had married Grace Dowson on 29th September 1594, and they had had a son who died young and six daughters.  His will is given in Appendix IV.  The inventory of his goods and chattels was valued at £77 6s 6d, which indicates that he was pretty well off.  For an example of an itemised inventory of the same period, see that of Anthony Dixon of Ravensford, which was taken on 30th January 1666/7, shown in Appendix V (TBS).

According to John T. Christian, in his book Did They Dip?16, Chapter VI, a Baptist Chapel was founded in the village in 1633, although Fordyce notes that one wasn’t erected until 1715 (v.i.).

During February/March 1641 the Protestation – an oath of allegiance to the King and the established church, was taken (see Appendix III (TBS)), without the signing of which a man could not hold office in the church or state17. There are 198 names on the list (it was added up wrong at the time), and as these were only the adult males of the village, it would indicate a population of about 800-850 people, similar to the number 200 years later, and significantly more than in our own time.

On 8th July 1644 the Venerable Ralph Corbie, a Jesuit priest, was seized in Hamsterley by Parliamentarians while dressed in Mass vestments, and taken to London, where he was committed to Newgate with his friend John Duckett, a secular priest.  They were tried, admitted their faith, and executed at Tyburn on 7th September.  Had he been visiting the Appleby family, the major Catholic family in the village at the time?

In 1657 Sir William Darcy, now made a baronet, and his son George Darcy mortgaged the castle, manor and lands of Witton and Hamsterley plus other holdings, to Sir Thomas Hewitt of Pishobury, Hertfordshire.  In 1689 James, now Lord Darcy, dismantled the castle of its lead, timber and chimney pieces to use them in the building of a house at Sadbury near Richmond, but “the greater part was sold at auction for much less than the sum paid for their pulling down and removing”.  Clearly the family money problems continued18!

On 13th and 14th June 1663 Marmaduke Darcy signed deeds transferring to James Darcy the castle and lands at “Witton als Witham als Witton on the Weir” and in Hamsterley.

The documents for the manor of Hamsterley, including manor court rolls and jurors’ presentments, are in N.A. D 258/23/18/2-8 and D 258/23/14/9.

On 23rd June 1655 William Taylor of Edgeknowle sold off a plot of land of 8 acres to Robert Surtees (Sairtees) for £60.  The agreement was engrossed as “Indenture made ye twenty third day of June in the Yeare of our Lord God according to the computation of ye Churche of England One thousand six hundred fifty and five between William Taylor of Edgeknowle in the County of Durham Yeoman…. and Richardo Sairtees of Henwicke in the same county yeoman his heyres and assigns ….. witnesseth that the said William Taylor for three score pounds of lawful English money to himself to be fully paid …. All that close and ground and land containing by estimation eight acres of ground or thereabouts lying on the Town Green on the south and bounded on the east by land now in the let Tenure and occupation of Thomas White bounded on the west by John Merten’s cloase called Garden Cloase and on the north by George Blackett at Bedburn Park.”  It was witnessed by William Blackett, Thomas Tayler, William Gibbon (marked with an “H”), Thomas …. , Christopher Ma… (marked with a “+” and Christopher Suirties.

On 3rd July 1663 Richard Harding was drowned in the “Harpott at or adjoining Shoole” (the Hartop at Shull) – “a planet shoure falling suddenly in tht quarter ye water being soe greate was knowne in no age and was burijed in Hamsterley Church the 4th July”.

On 27th June 1664 John Lonesdaile of Eglestone was drowned in the Ape (Ayehope Beck) above William Preston’s at Rootford (Redford), being fourscore and five years of age.  He was buried in Hamsterley Churchyard the next day.

In 1665 the Baptist church in Hamsterley was founded.

On Lady Day (25th March) of 1666 the assessment for Hearth tax was taken.  It shows that in Hamsterley there were 41 houses where the tax was paid and 26 where it was not (see Appendix VI (TBS)).  The numbers for South Bedburn show 38 houses paying, and 7 not paying.  This illustrates that at that time the balance of population between the two villages was quite different from today, and emphasises that South Bedburn was significantly more prosperous – it not only had fewer non-payers, but also the larger houses were there.  The township od “Linsacke & Softley” contained 31 houses paying and 40 not paying, which shows extreme poverty in that part of the Parish.  Even among the payers, the largest houses in Lynesack were one with 3 hearths and five with 2.  The average in South Bedburn was 1.66 hearths per house, while that in Hamsterley was 1.31 and that in Lynesack was 1.10.

The surprising thing that we can observe from comparing the two lists of names in 1641 and 1666 is the number of surnames which have changed in the village over only 25 years.  In the Protestation list of 198 names there are 83 different surnames; in the Hearth Tax list of 163 names there are 65 surnames.  However, of the earlier list 49 names have moved out, and in the later list 31 have moved in.  It is true that the later list is of householders, so in shared houses some of the “missing” 49 could still be in residence, but it is still a significant degree of change (about 50%!).  The other feature of note is how quickly the Givens (Giveings, Givengs) family established themselves.  They were not listed here in 1641, but by 1666 they held seven different properties.

At the Bishop’s Court held on 20th December 1674 cases were heard against Gilbert Metcalfe and Catherine his wife, Peter Applebey, John Parkyn and his wife, George Bradley and Margaret his wife, Stephen Walton and William Teasdaile and his wife for not paying the Minister’s dues.  In addition, William Elstobb and Mary his wife and Nicholas Elstobb were summonsed for being Quakers, while William Teasdaile and Margaret his wife, William Hall, Mary the wife of Richard Atkinson, George Bradley and his wife and Stephen Walton and his wife were summonsed for being Anabaptists.  In addition Nicholas Elstob and William Elstob were summonsed for keeping their children unbaptised, and Anthony Hodgshon and Ralph Hodgshon for being Papists.  So the village clearly had a diversity of religious views which were not easily resolved.  At the Court on 8th August 1675 the same problems continued.  Stephen Walton was summonsed for keeping his children unbaptised and for not coming to church, and Margaret, wife of Ralph Littleforth and George Walton for being Papists and for being clandestinely married.  On 6th August 1677 the establishment was still trying to impose its will.  William Linsley and Ralph Hodgshon were summonsed for refusing to pay Church cess; Ralph Littleforth and Margaret Elstob (alias Litteforth) for cohabiting in fornication or being clandestinely married, and total absence from Church; Anne Natteris, wife of Hugh Natteris, for not being churched; Leonard Maddison and the wife of John Dowson, for adultery; Thomas Lockey and his wife, for not paying marriage fees; William Johnson “gardian” (?), for not appearing.

In 1674/5 Christopher Chaytor, Ralph Pattison and “Wren Linsley” were summoned before the Sheriff’s court for being in arrears in the payment of their Hearth Tax.  “Wren Linsley” was perhaps Linsley Wren of Binchester, whose descendant may have been the Farrer Wren who held the Redford estates in 1760.

On 5th July 1678 Sir William Darcy petitioned the House of Lords19 in the Darcy v Darcy dispute.  At this time he was seised in fee of the Manor and Castle of Witton, the Park of Witton and the Lordships of Hamsterley and Bicknold Grange.  By 1687 he owned Bedburn Park (N.A. E 134/3 Jas 2/East 5).  At the same time William Blackett had an action against John Madgin alias Magshon alias Madgshon  before the King’s Remembrancer concerning Bedburne Park.

The first full evidence of coal mining in the parish comes from leases granted by the Crown to Thomas Neale and Michael Thompson in 1697/820, although there is the mention of a coal mine at Softley in 1633.  The lease was issued by the Crown to Thomas Neale and Michael Thompson for “Cole Mines and Premisses” on 26th May 1697, for a term of 31 years for the yearly rental of “26s 8d, and one full sixth part of the clear annual value of the premises to be accompted for upon Oath before ye Auditor of the premises and paid at ye Receipt of ye Exchequer to ye Receiver General of ye County of Durham within forty days after Michas. yearly”.

The 18th century

On 22nd September 1702 James Darcy took out a mortgage for £2,000 with Francis Stringer of Sutton in Nottinghamshire, secured on his lands in Hamsterley and other properties21.

On 15th December 1797 Henry Coates of Lynesaik (sic), chapelry of Hamsterley, yeoman, took out a mortgage of £70 on a messuage in Woodland and West Close, High Field, Low Field and ½ of Cow Close, in the occupation of Matthew Firbanke, with Paul Wilson of Lower Shadwell, City of London, distiller.  However, on 29th September 1709 Paul Wilson and Barbara his wife sold on the mortgage rights to Ralph Potter of Hawkwell, Northumberland, gent, for £275, so he took a good profit.  By this time the property was in the possession of Charles Watson and John Blackett.  Finally in this little saga, on 20th October 1714 Henry Coates was presumably in default, as he assigned a lease for the entire property to Ralph Potter for 999 years for a mere 5s!

In 1715 a Baptist Chapel was erected on ground given, for a nominal sum, by Mr Thomas Dowson of Brackenhill, Mr Nicholas Teasdale being the purchaser on behalf of the congregation.  It is reported that it contained a large library from 1715, but it was clearly substantially increased later.

Under Acts of Parliament of 1715 and 1717 Roman Catholics were required to register their names and the particulars of their estates with the Clerk of the Peace.  This was to be followed by ‘An Act for Granting an Aid to His Majesty by laying a Tax upon Papists’ (9 George I c. 18 [1723]), which followed a double taxation Act.  Ursulla Lascelles enrolled on 18th April 1717: “I, Ursulla Lascelles, formerly of the Parish of St Giles in the Fields in the County of Middlesex, now of Ripon in the County of York, my annuity of £10 issuing and payable to me out of all that messuage or tenement with all the lands arable meadow and pasture belonging and commonly called Coley Farm in the township of Hamsterley in the County of Durham which I hold and enjoy for the now residue of the term of 99 years made 21 June 11 William III (1700) between me ….. and Thomas Blackett, gent.

The living of Hamsterley was augmented with two hundred pounds by the bounty of Queen Anne (who had died 10 years earlier) on the seventh of December 1724 in conjunction with five hundred pounds the benefaction of Nathaniel, late Lord Bishop of Durham and five hundred pounds more, advanced for the further augmentation of the aforesaid living by My Lord Darcy.  This entry in the parish register is then followed by a long list of parishioners who gave varying small amounts.

On 7th September 1725 John Barclay, M.A., was appointed curate in the village.

By 1727 William, Viscount Vane had joined the coal rush, and obtained Crown leases for coal mines in the Lanton Hills, alias the Lampton Hills22.  This was William Holles Vane, 2nd Viscount Vane and 2nd Baron Vane of Dungannon, Tyrone in Ireland, not to be confused with the Vanes of Raby, who at this time were styled the Barons Barnard and Earls of Darlington.  However, in spite of his exotic “foreign” title, he was a grandson of Christopher Vane of Raby (1653-1723), 1st Baron Barnard.  William Vane married Frances Hawes, the widow of Lord William Hamilton, son of the 4th Duke of Hamilton, on 19th May 1735, but in 1736 she abandoned him in Paris and eloped to Brussels with a Mr Shirley.  He died on 5th April 1789 in Downing Street, London.  He held land in Lynesack, and received an award under the Inclosure Act (see Appendix VIII).

By the 1730’s potatoes were being grown in Hamsterley as a significant crop.  They had only reached England 100 years earlier, and would have clearly taken time to be appreciated for the beneficial crop they were, and then to spread across the country.  When Daniel Defoe made his tour of England in the early part of the century, he did not mention the crop in relation to the north, and indeed R. Bradley in his “Survey of Husbandry & Gardening” (1726) says of the potato that it is “a root of extraordinary use to mankind, both for Food and the making of Starch; but however it happens I know not, we do not find it cultivated in any great Quantities in England, except near London”.  However, by 1810 Bailey, in his “View of Agriculture in County Durham” was able to state that potatoes, if not first grown, have been “longest known” in Hamsterley “where it has been the principal employment of several families for upwards of eighty years”.  He went on to explain that the people here “are very particular in having their sets as perfect as possible; and in cutting them throw aside all deformed potatoes and all such as they suspect have a tendency to run wild.”  The favourite varieties, he adds “are the red nebs, the red streak or the pink eyes, the one a kidney, the other a round variety.”

On 2nd May 1740 the Court Leet was held for the manor of Hamsterley.  This is a particular example date of what was an annual event at which all the villagers were expected to present themselves to pay rents and to have disputes resolved by a panel of jurors sworn from among the older and more respectable members of the village.  Records have survived for five of the years 1732 to 1743.  The preamble of the record reads: “The Court Leet or view of Frank Pledge Court …of Henry Darcy Esq, Lord of the said Mannor holden in and for the said mannor at the usual place there on Friday the second day of May in the thirteenth year of our Gracious Sovereign King George the Second before Edward Goddard, Gentleman, Steward of the said Court”.  There is then a list of villagers, marked as attending or absent, and a list of the jurors.  In some cases rents and fines are listed.  There is also, for the period of 1754-1763, a list of licences granted to search for tin and copper, to drive an adit (for coal) and to transport ores.

In 1756 John Cuthbert, now the owner of Witton Castle, appointed Ralph Hodgson as the Steward of his manors of Hamsterley and Witton-le-Wear.

An entry in the parish register on 6th April 1757 tells that “a new pew was erected by George Lanstaffe the elder for the use of him the said George Langstaffe, his heirs and assigns (being the west pew on the north side in the west end of the said church near the font and the first vacancy) with the consent of us: Thomas Lamb, minister; William Blackett, parish clerk; John Hodgson, Thomas Chapman, Christopher Jackson, churchwardens”.

In 1757 the Inclosure Act23 permitted the clearing and enclosing of Hamsterley Waste, as part of Wolsingham Common.  It was this that led to the dramatic settlement and development of the whole area.  For example, before the enclosures Ravensford Farm encompassed 40 acres beside the Lynn Burn, but a further 20 acres were soon cleared.  Of course, it also reduced the common land, where rights of grazing and pannage had been held by the common people, which caused great impoverishment and hardship.  John Wesgarth, William Jobson, John Dobinson, Michael Robinson, William Sanderson and Richard Richardson were appointed as Commissioners, and in total they enclosed 8,927 acres under the Act, out of the total Parish area at that time of 14,402.  To establish who should have what, they surveyed all existing holdings, which are listed in Appendix VIII.  In effect, this is another survey of landowners, though the names are not tied to specific properties.  As an example of the style of boundary description, the land claimed by Farrer Wren and Miles Sandys was “lying on the North Side of Bedburne Fell beginning at a place called Standing Stone and Extending from thence Westward to a Currock of Stones called Greenthorn Currock thence to the Hartsolings thence to the Meeting of the Burns under ahope Shield otherwise Ape Shield and thence up South Grain Burn and out of the Nook or Crook of the same to the wester Brown Law Currock and thence in a right Line to Shanberry Rake”.  It can also be noted that there was a requirement for “Publick roads so to be made should be and contain forty feet in Breadth at the least between the Ditches”.  The current County council is certainly not meeting their legal requirements!

The interesting feature of the Inclosure survey is the identification of the remarkable amount of freehold land, compared with the more usual copyhold.  By this time the majority of Hamsterley was freehold, and about half of South Bedburn; the total value of the holdings in Hamsterley was assessed to be £748-14-8 per year, while that of South Bedburn was £818-9-11 per year.  All the land enclosed was valued at one penny per rood, or four pence per acre, regardless of the freehold or copyhold status.  This was the annual rent due to the Bishop, which therefore increased his income by a handy £148/16/2 per year.  Interestingly, the commissioners made several mathematical mistakes in calculating the proper rent due, and in reaching their totals.

The Land Tax assessment of 175924 shows that South Bedburn was still the more prosperous of the two villages.  The rate was set at 4d in the £, and the charge on South Bedburn was £38-18-8 whilst that on Hamsterley was only £17-17-6. Thus the rules applying at this time valued South Bedburn at £2,336 and Hamsterley at £1,072-10-0, which is a very different ratio to that produced by the Inclosure assessors the same year.  The details are shown in Appendix VII

In 1770 Charles Winfield became the Baptist minister, and was to remain in the village until about 1817.  On 25th October 1772 he preached a sermon “The Gracious proclamation of the King of Zion”, the text25 of which, together with two of his hymns, was printed in Newcastle by I. Thompson and sold there by T. Robson, as well as by Whitfield himself in the village.

On 14th July 1771, “between the hours of two and four of the clock in the afternoon” at the house of Mr Bowness, Innkeeper in Bishop Auckland, was sold to the best bidder the moiety of a freehold estate at Beckside, late in the possession of Mr William Blenkinsop, consisting of 58 acres or thereabouts of good arable, meadow and pasture ground, with an allotment containing 89 acres, now inclosed, which was set out in respect of the said premises, on the division of Hamsterley Common.

In 1774 a larger chapel was erected by subscription, to which a small endowment was attached, with a school room, a house and garden for the minister and a burial ground, in which some of the ministers and many of the congregation have been interred.  A library was formed here in 1790, which by 1857 contained between 400 and 500 volumes, mostly on theological subjects.  Pevsner’s26 description of the building is “..with manse under the same roof.  Towards the road two tall arched-headed sahes and a roun-headed door, its keystone inscribed 1774 and BETHEL in Hebrew.  Inside, opposite the entrance, is a wide staircase to the gallery running round three sides.  The pulpit between the windows was replaced in the 19th century by a wide rostrum, but the original seating, with a table pew in front of the pulpit, fireplace, candle sconce and hatpegs, remains.  A small wing of about 1800 now has a single tall sash; its two storeys are partly removed inside.”

During the early part of the 19th century Jonathan (19th January 1779-1842) and William (17th November 1779-1844) Backhouse, two of the sons of Jonathan Backhouse (1747-1826), of the Darlington Quaker banking family, held large estates centred on Dryderdale and Shull.  In 1758 the Royal Society of Arts had instituted medals for “the planting of timber trees in the common and waste ground all over the kingdom for the supply of the Navy, the employment and advantage of the poor as well as ornamenting the nation”.  In 1813 Jonathan won a silver medal for having planted 271,000 larch on his estates at Shull and Lanchester, while William won a gold in the same year for planting 300,000 larch and 50,000 other timber trees, mainly Scots pine and oak on his share of the estate at Shull.  In 1847, following a property transfer, William’s son William (1807-1869) moved up to St John’s Hall, where he became world famous for his development of narcissi and lilies. In 1871-2 Alfred (born Sunderland 1822, son of Edward (born 1781), son of Jonathan of Darlington) built Dryderdale Hall (designed by the architect Alfred Waterhouse, who had built other houses for the family), although he probably only used it as a country retreat.  The development of Hamsterley Forest obviously owes its origins to the Backhouse family.

On 20 September 1779, Sarah Rose vagrant was apprehended at Orton and brought before the Westmoreland Quarter Session; where a Removal Order was made for her to go to Bowes, Yorkshire and thence to Hamsterley, co. Durham.  Her examination showed that she was born at Wigton, Cumberland, and she married Thomas Rose at Kirkby Stephen whose settlement was at Hamsterley.  After her marriage she and her husband lived in a small cottage house at Soulby until his death, then she went to Hamsterley and has lived there ever since until about midsummer last and has begged about the country ever since.  She had at present 6d. a week from Hamsterley.  At the same time her son was sent to Evenwood.  His examination showed he was born at Soulby and continued there until he was eleven when his father died and he went with his mother to Hamsterley, Durham, where his father’s settlement was.  Some time afterwards he was bound apprentice by the parish officers of Hamsterley to Richard Bazey of Evenwood, Durham, for six years; he entered on the said apprenticeship and continued half a year, except for three weeks, then ran away and after rambling about the country for some weeks returned to his mother at Hamsterley, he then applied to a justice of the peace who on his master’s refusing to take him again discharged him and ordered his clothes to be delivered up, he afterwards continued about 5 years with his mother and then enlisted into the marines and served one year and three months, since he was discharged he has begged about the country27.

In 1783 the sum of £100 was bequeathed by John Cuthbert of Witton Castle, which was appropriated to the repair of the church chancel.  Was this the restoration which included the setting of the Saxon grave-stones in the wall?

From 1786 a rental of Grewburn (later Butterknowle) and Lynesack (later Copley) collieries was given by George Wilkins, colliery agent for Miss Lodge28.  There were costs of £300 to defend the boundaries of the land and other incidentals (£10 to repairing a house belonging to the said collieries) and the three collieries involved were Butterknowl, let to Mrs Longstaff for £250, Copley Bent let to Mr Dixon for £100 and Craike Scar let to Parkin and Hardy for £100.  Over the 7 years to 1792 this made a total of £2,043 for Miss Lodge.

In 1790 the Hamsterley Book Club was started,

On 22nd January 1792 Charles Whitfield preached a sermon to the Protestant Dissenters on “The obligations to mental improvement stated, and the use of books recommended, especially to youth”.  The text29 was then printed in Newcastle by M. Angus for the Book Society at Hamsterley, and sold by Mr Charnley in Newcastle and by the librarian in the Vestry Room on Hamsterley.

On 4th August 1792 at Durham Assizes William Blacket Stephenson was charged with pulling up, cutting and destroying trees grown in the plantation of Anthony Leaton Esq at Hoppyland.

Between 21st and 23rd September 1796 a group of inhabitants “beat the bounds”, only in our case they rode them, as the circumference of the parish was nearly 20 miles, and much of it over pretty rough ground.  George Hankey of Ape Shield joined the group on the later two days, and an account of the ride opens with the following paragraph: “Beginning at the outer corned of Mr Jasper Harrison’s out allotment, formerly Greenthorn Currock.  From thence crossing the road leading to Redford through Hart Soulings and down the bank to the meeting of the North and South Grain Burns under Ape Shield.  At the meeting of the Burns Mr Wilson (the Rev. Wm) read a payer.  J. Nicholson, with the rest of the company sang the old 100th psalm.

The 19th century

Late in the year of 1805 a very good party was held in memory of Thomas Stobbs, who had died on 7th May.  The bill indicates that most of the village must have attended, in view of the amounts consumed!  It came to:

£ s d
To 1st 7lbs of beef at 6 (d per lb) 0 10 6
To 19lbs of veal at 6d 0 9 6
To mutton 13lbs at 7d 0 7 7
To Two cheeses 24¼ at 7½d 0 15 2
Edward Glenton coffin 14s sexton 2s 0 16 0
For Ale pit house & park 1 3 4
To candles pipes & tobacko tea white bread 0 7 6
To ham 26 lbs at 8d per pound 0 17 4
Thee stone of flower at 3/6 & 4lbs butter at 1/6 0 15 2
To Two bottles of claret 2 of sweet wine 0 18 0
For Hearse crooks 0 7 6
November 20th 1800 to making a will Bates 0 10 6
July 13 1805 to proving the will 7 3 0
July 16 1805 to copying the will 0 2 0

Clearly a good time was had by all.  It is interesting to note that beef and veal were cheaper than mutton, and ham was the most expensive meat of all.  And those were the days – when not only were they allowed to smoke, but the pipes and “tobacko” were provided.

One record reports that a Methodist meeting house was built in 1811, and afterwards converted into a formal chapel.  However, this was only a modest building, and it wasn’t until the arrival of Andrew Moin and his family that a new and larger chapel was achieved.

Robert Surtees, in his great 4-volume history of Durham published between 1816 and 184030, was choosing to focus mainly on land ownership and the great families who owned the county.  Thus, although he covers Darlington Ward, as one of the four major subdivisions of the county, he makes no mention of Hamsterley, South Bedburn or even Wolsingham.  We were clearly not grand enough for him, in spite of the fact that members of the family chose to build their hunting lodge here, and over time purchase significant tracts of land.

Until 1820 the site that was to become known as “Bedburn forge” had been an extensive bleachery where linen cloth and yarn were whitened by chemical process; it had thus served the textile trade for at least 450 years.  At this time it was changed to the metal industry, being employed in the manufacture of edge tools such as spades, shovels, bread-knives etc.

On 10th July 1821 Samuel Laister, a Methodist minister, preached in the village.

A school was built by public subscription in 1822 on the upper village green, of which the Reverend Thomas Gibson was the master, but after his death it remained some time unoccupied.  The schoolhouse cost £142 11s 6d, which was raised by public subscription, and 15 trustees were appointed.  No school master is listed in the 1841 census, but by 1851 Richard Baddye had taken up the post, supported by a school mistress, Jane Murray (?sp) with Christina Coales as an assistant.  By 1857 the school master was Mr Leonard Smith., and there was a second school, attended by 20 boys and girls in summer and 50 in winter, supported by the weekly pence of the children.  In all, the 1851 census recorded that there were 127 children attending the schools31. The building was to be enlarged by another room on the east end in 1877, and further enlarged in 1898.  In 1967 a new school was constructed across the road, and the old building became the village hall.

In November 1825 a Mechanics Institute was built, with a library, and by 1857 it had 30 members and a library of above 500 volumes.  The subscription was 1s per quarter, and the meetings were held in the school-room, where lectures were occasionally delivered on behalf of the institution; in the 1850’s Mr M. Richley delivered a series of interesting and instructive lectures on local history, manners and customs.  Sadly, the institute had disappeared before 1920.

On 25th April 1828 Rev Thomas Gibson applied to the Lord Crewe charity for assistance with his daughter’s apprentice fee32

In 1830 the world’s first major public railway reached the parish.  On 1st May the Haggerleazes branch of the Stockton and Darlington railway, five miles in length, was opened to connect West Auckland with the Cockfield and Butterknowle collieries on the south side of the parish.  The traffic did not actually commence until the October of that year.

For the 1832 General Election a list of voters was published.  The election for two Knights of the Shirewas held on 21st and 22nd December, and was the first following the Great Reform Act of England and Wales, which had been signed by King William IV on 7th June.  This had raised the number of voters from 400,000 to 650,000 (in a population of 14 million) and swept away the rotten boroughs (Higham Ferrers in Leicestershire had one registered voter).  The Act also explicitly disenfranchised women, who had previously had a vote provided they were land owners – which was rare.  In order to qualify one had to be either a freehold owner of land worth 40 shillings, or the holder of copyhold land worth £10 or the holder of a long-term lease (more than 60 years) worth £10 or the holder of a medium term lease (20 to 60 years) worth £50 or a tenant-at-will paying an annual rent of £50.  The voter registration was administered by the overseers of the poor in every parish and township.  In the election Joseph Pease polled 2,273 votes, John Bowes 2,218 votes and Robert Duncombe Shafto 1,841 votes.  For the full list, which is a merging of a list of registered voters and a poll book recording who did vote, see Appendix IX33

In 1834 George Thomas Leaton Blenkinsopp of Whickham House, Hoppyland, and Jonathan Middleton of Lynesack, farmer were two of the subscribers to the new History of the County Palatine of Durham, written by E. Mackenzie and M. Ross.  George Leaton had assumed by Royal Licence in 1827 the additional name of Blenkinsopp, and he also owned Hambleton Hall in Northumberland.  Whickham House is more usually known simply as Hoppyland.  The Leatons had acquired the properties through the marriage of Anthony Leaton to Elizabeth Blenkinsopp on 5th December 1776.

On 10th March 1835 new 21-year leases for the development of the coal seams in the south of the parish were issued.  These are in the extreme south western corner of the Durham coal-fields, and the Butterknowle (also known as Grewburn) and Copley (also Lynesack) Collieries were by Messrs Dowson and Co, in a royalty leased by the Rev William Luke Pratt of Barnard Castle.  Craike Scar and West Pitts Colliery were won by Messrs Hardy, Kendall and Hodgson.  The royalties covered 3,000 acres, and allowed development of the four seams between 3 and 6 feet thick, down to 380 feet depth, producing various qualities of coal, including manufacturing, coking and household coal.  They supported sixteen coke ovens at Haggerleazes lead-yard and three at Copley high pit.  It was this industrialisation which lead to the rapid increase in the population of the townships, and consequently to the splitting of the parish 15 years later.  By 1896 Craike Scar was owned by Woodland Collieries Ltd of Darlington, the manager was JJC Allison and the under-manager was Hutton Hall; they were employing 115 men underground and a further 59 on the surface.  At the same time the Wham colliery was owned by the Butterknowle Colliery Ltd, employed H. Dowdeswell as manager and W. Simpson as under-manager, and employed 89 below ground and 42 above.

On 15th March 1835 six adult persons received public baptism in St James34

On 30th August 1841 there was a tea party at Hamsterley Lodge.  “29th August 1841 – Mrs & Miss Whites Compliments to the three Miss Morras and will be Glad of their companies tomorrow afternoon to take tea” – to Miss Morras at Edgeknowl

In 1842 the Church underwent a thorough cleaning and repainting, one half of the cost being met by Donald MacLean Esq. of Witton Castle, the other half  by Robert Surtees of Redford Grove, Esq. and  G. T. Leaton Blenkinsopp of Hoppyland Park, Esq., one of the churchwardens, in equal share. The Newcastle Courant reported on 3rd June that G.T.L. Blenkinsopp, Esq., of Hoppylands Park, had presented a communion flagon and plate to the chapel at Hamsterley, and also a cover for the altar, a carpet, a coat and staff for the sexton, and a gown for the clerk.

In 1844 the Tithe Apportionment survey was carried out, following the passing of the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 (see Appendix X).  This illustrates some of the early history of the parish, as it demonstrates that the original Anglo-Saxon developments were with the manor, and Hamsterley belonged to Witton, while South Bedburn belonged to Wolsingham.  As each area of waste and woodland was cleared by those from a particular manor, the areas were not necessarily contiguous, and South Bedburn, much the more populous and wealthy of the two, ended up effectively surrounding Hamsterley – in total it had eleven separate non-contiguous parts.  (N.A. IR29/11/117).  The survey maps for Lynesack & Softley and Hamsterley were drawn to a scale of 6 chains to the inch (13.3 inches to the mile), while that for South Bedburn was at 4 chains to the inch, or 20 inches to the mile.

In 1850 the parish of Lynsack St John was created out of the southwest part of Hamsterley parish.

By 1851 the “parsonage house” at the west end of the village was in want of repair, so the ecclesiastical commissioners gave £200 from the Maltby Fund towards its enlargement and restoration.  The Duke of Cleveland added £25; James Farrer, Esq., M.P., £10; The Rev. W. N. Darnell, rector of Stanhope, £10; and the executors of the late Rev. Dr. Durell, £10.  The entire outlay was about £400 (so where did the rest come from?).  The value of the living was £90.

In March 1853 a great quantity of lead was cut from the roof of the church and stolen, and a few days later one of the bells, the gift of Lady Chaytor, was stolen from the turret.

In 1854 the Trustees of the Methodist chapel were Matthew Burnip, Matthew Dowson, Harrison Clarkson, John Henderson, Joseph Wright, Joseph Wilson, Thomas Renwies, Joseph Thompson, William Simpson, Thomas White and John Denham.

William Whellan’s History of the County Palatinate of Durham (1856)

William Fordyce (1857)

In Wilson’s Imperial Gazetteer (1870) the entry for the village is: a village, township-chapelry and a sub-district in Auckland district, Durham.  The village stands on a hill, near the river Bedburn, 2 miles SW of Witton-le-Wear r. station and 6 W by N of Bishop-Auckland; and has a post-office under Darlington.  The chapelry is in Auckland-St. Andrew parish, and comprises 4003 acres.  Real property, £2,883; of which £310 are in mines.  Pop., 522.  Houses 117.  The property is subdivided.  The living is a p. curacy in the diocese of Durham.  Value, £96.  Patron H. Chaytor Esq.  The church is ancient and cruciform, with a belfry.  There are a Wesleyan chapel, and charities £16.  The sub-district contains also five other townships of Auckland-St. Andrew, one of Brancepeth, one of Gainford, and the entire parish of Witton-le-Wear.  Acres, 35,758.  Pop., 15,613.  Houses 3,041.

The entry for South Bedburn, which technically includes Ravensford Farm, although the hamlet of Bedburn lies to the north of Hamsterley, is: a township in Auckland-St-Andrew parish, Durham, on the Bedburn rivulet, 3¼ miles from the Weardale railway, and 7½ miles W of Bishop Auckland.  Acres 6,765.  Real property, £2,920.  Pop., 332.  Houses 61.

In 1879 yet another member of the Backhouse family discussed above, Alfred (1822-1888) of Pilmore Hall, Darlington, built Dryderdale Hall on the family estate there.

In 1887 the new Methodist Chapel was built.  The architect was George Race of Westgate, and the whole project, including purchasing the site, cost £500.

The 20th century

On 5th August 1908 Matthew James Dodds (43), joiner, was tried before Mr Justice Grantham for the murder in February of his wife Mary Jane Dodds; he was convicted and sentenced to death.  They had not been married long, as in the 1901 census Matthew had been still single, and was living at home with his father, for whom he worked.

On 28th July 1921 The Right honourable William Burdett-Coutts, M.P. died.  His connection with the village was almost certainly through shooting on the Surtees’ moor, as he was well-known to Bill Stephenson, the head keeper.  William Burdett-Coutts had been born William Lehman Ashmead-Bartlett on 20th January 1851 in the USA, and when his father died when he was a baby, his mother brought him to England, where all his grandparents had been born.  After education at Oxford University, he got a job as secretary to Baroness Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts, the incredibly wealthy heir to the banking family.  Then, in 1881, he married her, although at 67 years old she was 37 years older than him!  He changed his name to hers by deed-poll, although without the title, and they lived happily till her death at the age of 92 in 1906.  Bill Stephenson (born 1900) lived at The Nest on the Redford estate (now in the forest), and had sons Bill and Frank.  He went on to serve 40 years on Bedburn Parish Council.  For the reply to the letter he wrote on the death of Burdett-Coutts, see illustration ..

In 1927 the Forestry Commission purchased the estate which the Surtees family had built up around the Redford properties, and created Hamsterley Forest, which is the largest forest entirely in England.  They paid £15,000, and the area encompassed a total of 4,000 acres, mostly in South Bedburn, and is now a noted haven for wild life and plants of a wide variety of species.  The Commission had been set up on 1st September 1919, as a result of the great difficulties the country experienced during the First World War due to a shortage of timber.

H. C. Surtees History of Hamsterley and Lynsack & Softley (1926).

Appendix I

Sources and References:

  1. Oxford Dictionary of Place Names
  2. The Green Villages of County Durham by Brian K Roberts, Durham County Council 1977
  3. Boldon Book, ed. John Austin, Phillimore 1982
  4. A transcript of this document is printed in H. Conyers Surtees, The History of the Parishes of Hamsterley and Lynesack and Softley …, (1926) pp.42-43
  5. DuRO: D/Gr 80
  6. NA: SC 8/15/725
  7. H. Conyers Surtees, History of Hamsterley (1926) p 8
  8. Proceedings of the Soc. Of Antiquaries of Newcastle, 1913, p195
  9. William Hutchinson, History of Durham, (1794) vol III p308,
  10. DuRO: D/Gr 215
  11. Bishop Hatfield’s Survey; pub. The Surtees Society, vol. XXXII, 1856
  12. Durham Call Books
  13. Publication of the Surtees Society Vol: 97
  14. Halmote Court records – various sources, including Surtees Society publications
  15. Publication of the Surtees Society
  16. DeRO: D258/23/9/2
  17. Did They Dip
  18. HoL: HL/PO/JO/10/1/90
  19. NoRO: ZSW/39/1
  20. HoL: HL/PO/JO/10/1/380
  21. DeRO: D258/23/14/9
  22. NA: E367/3655
  23. NA: E 117/2/21
  24. HoL: HL/PO/PB/1 1757/31G2n32
  25. YOM: Y/CMA 145.9 WHI
  26. Pevsner County Durham 1953
  27. NA: E 367/6850
  28. NoRO: NRO 3410/bud/20
  29. YOM: reel 11906, no. 06
  30. HoL: HL/PO/PB/1/1757/31G2n32
  31. Hamsterley and South Bedburn in 1851, Jane Bee et al, Dept of Adult & Continuing Education, Durham University, 1982
  32. CRO: WQ/SR/425/19-20
  33. The Poll for Tow Knights of the Shire, pub. George Walker, Durham 1833
  34. M.A. Richardson – Local Historian’s Table Book vol. IV 1844
  35. Surtees History of Durham
  36. NoRO 452/C/2/395

CRO                        Cumbria Record Office
DeRO                      Derby Record Office
DuRO                      Durham County Record Office
HoL                          House of Lords
NA                           National Archive, Kew
NoRO                      Northumberland Record Office
YOM                        York Minster & University library

History & Antiquities of Durham by William Fordyce, pub. A. Fullarton & Co, 1857.
The Backhouses of Weardale, Co. Durham, by Peter Davis, The journal of the Garden History Soiety, vol. 18, no. I, 1990.


[i] Oxford Dictionary of Place Names.
[ii] The Green Villages of County Durham by Brian K Roberts, Durham County Council, 1977.
[iii] Boldon Book, ed. John Austin, Phillimore 1982.
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