"THE CHURCH, dedicated to St. Mary and St. Cuthbert, stands on the site of the original wooden church, which was built by the monks who fled from Lindisfarne, with the body of St. Cuthbert, and settled at Chester-le-Street, in the year 883. This wooden church remained until the time of Egelric, the fourth Bishop of Durham (1042-1056), who replaced it with one of stone. On the removal of the bishopric of Chester-le-Street to Durham in 995, this church became a parochial rectory, and so it remained until Bishop Beck, in 1286, made it collegiate, consisting of a dean, seven prebendaries, five chaplains, three deacons, and other ministers. At the Reformation a great change took place; a visitation was made by order of King Henry VIII., and in the first of Edward VI., this establishment, with those of Lanchester, Bishop Auckland, Darlington, and other places was dissolved and the large revenues appropriated by the crown. Whether any portion of the church built by Egelric still exists is not absolutely certain; it is, however, considered most probable that some parts of the north and south walls of the chancel may be safely ascribed to that date. The church is believed to have originally consisted of a long chancel and nave, with a central tower within the church, the building having been brought to its present form by several subsequent additions. These include the two western bays of the nave and the lowest stages of the tower, the date of which is ascribed to the beginning of the thirteenth century; the octagonal upper stage and the tall spire, forming a structure of great beauty, were added probably in 1409, when the three old bells were presented.
"There were formerly two chantries in this church, but the names of the founders are not known; the one dedicated to St. Mary was of the yearly value of £5, 8s. 10d., the other, to St. George, was worth £5, 3s. In the Lincoln valuation of the 20th Edward I., 1291, the income of this establishment was given at £146, 13s. 4d., but in the 20th Henry VIII., it had fallen to £77, 12s. 8d. The living is now a rectory, of the gross yearly value of £5209, in the patronage of Lady Ann T. N. Blunt, and Charles H. Jolliffe, Esq., and held by the Rev. Canon William O. Blunt, M.A."
[From History, Topography and Directory of Durham, Whellan, London, 1894]