"This extensive parish, the most northerly one in the south-east division of Darlington ward, comprises the townships or constableries of Aycliffe, Brafferton, Preston-le-Skerne, and Woodham. It is bounded on the north by Merrington and Bishop Middleham, on the south-west by New Shildon, on the south-east by Bishopton, on the west by Heighington, on the south by Haughton-le-Skerne, on the south-east by Sedgefield and Great Stainton.
"Great Aycliffe Township contains 2120 acres, and the ratable value is £8081. The main line runs through this township, as does also the Darlington and Auckland line, Heighington station being in this township. The village of Great Aycliffe is pleasantly situated on the west bank of the Skerne, and possesses an extensive green, around which the main portion of the houses stand, and in which is the pant. The great North Road passes through the western part, along which the village extends. It is five miles north of Darlington. This village was in early times known as Acle, Aclea, Acleia, &c., and is still sometimes called "Yackley." The Skerne, which is a slow flowing stream, is crossed by a bridge near the railway, on the east of the village. Linen was formerly manufactured, but was discontinued about 1837.
"Brafferton is a township and village. The area of the township is 2273 acres. The ratable value is £5532. The village is situated on a hill a little to the east of the Skerne, four and a half miles north of Darlington, and one mile south of Aycliffe. There is a small Methodist chapel here.
"Ketton is situated on rising ground above the Skerne, east of the great north road, about half a mile south of Brafferton. It is an old residence, sheltered by a rookery, and occupied by Mr. J. F. Green. here the celebrated "Short Horn" was first bred by Charles and Robert Colling, about 1810, and known as the Durham ox. To the north-east of Newton Ketton, in a singularly shaped field, four rivulets have their sources; and during a great part of the year water may be seen running in four different directions.
"Preston-le-Skerne Township contains 2610 acres and its annual value is £13,006. It is a mere hamlet, though it is believed to have been a considerable village in the last century. It is six miles north by east from Darlington, and takes its name from the stream that flows slowly north and south through the township.
"Woodham Township forms the northern part of Aycliffe parish, and comprises an area of 3705 acres. The ratable value is £9554. The village is situated on the great North Road, about eight miles from Darlington, and has fallen into decay during the past fifty years. Tradition informs us that at some remote period this place was burnt down by the Scots, and foundations of buildings may yet be discovered near the Skerne, which is here crossed by a bridge. Races were formerly held at Woodham Moor."
[From History, Topography and Directory of Durham, Whellan , London, 1894]