"This parish comprising the townships of Cockfield and Woodland, is bounded on the north by Lynesack, on the west by the parish of Middleton-in-Teesdale, on the south by Barnard Castle and Staindrop parishes, and on the east by St. Helen's Auckland. The parish comprises an area of 4416 acres. This parish, though to all appearance under Staindrop, is actually the rectory, and Staindrop simply an annexed vicarage. The township of Woodland is completely separated from that of Cockfield by the chapelry of Lynesack, and the township of Langley Dale in the parish of Staindrop.

Cockfield Township had a ratable value, in 1893, of £6587.

Cockfield Fell is a large tract, extending northward from the village to the Gaunless and it is about 2 miles in width from east to west. Coal has been worked on it from an early period, and Vavasour's mine here is the first inland colliery on record. The coals, however, have been nearly all worked out. Besides the great wealth of coal beneath the surface of this bleak fell, there are immense quantities of stone, the most valuable being the whinstone, which is extensively quarried for road metal, the quarrying of which gives employment to a great many hands. The coal mines and quarries are the principle source of employment in this district, though farming is to some extent carried on.

"The Fell was, about 1864-65, turned into a stinted common, of which there are 1100 stints, divided amongst the freeholders in the ratio of the ratable value of their property at that time. The rights and regulations of the Fell are governed by a body of men called Fieldreeves, who are to be freeholders, and elected by their fellow-freeholders.

"The Village - Cockfield is a long scattered village of healthy situation, on the summit of the Fell, seven miles south-west from Bishop Auckland, and three north from Staindrop, and about nine north-east from Barnard Castle. It has been much improved of late years, and along the road through the village trees have been planted. The railway station is about a mile distant on the Auckland and Barnard Castle Branch. Burnt Houses and Esperley are small hamlets near to the village.

"Woodland, a township in this parish, though, as before remarked, separated from Cockfield by Lynesack chapelry and the township of Langley Dale, consists of a bleak and sterile district which contained in 1851, 46 inhabited houses. The ratable value of the township in 1893 was £3292. Coal abounds in this township, and is wrought in several parts by the Woodland Collieries Co., Limited, who are working principally by drifts.

"Woodland Village, which is just within the boundary of the township, is a straggling district, situated on an eminence four and a half miles north-west of Cockfield, seen and a half north by east from Barnard Castle, and about ten west by south from Bishop Auckland. There is a good school, a fine assembly room, and a chapel."

[From History, Topography and Directory of Durham, Whellan , London, 1894]



The monumental inscriptions in the churchyard of St. Mary the Virgin have been transcribed, indexed and published by the Cleveland Family History Society.



"The number of inhabitants in 1801 was 461; in 1811, 475; in 1821, 533; in 1831, in consequence of the employment of labourers in railway works, it had increased to 790; in 1841, it was 994; and in 1851, owing to the partial working of collieries, and the cessation of labour at a large stone quarry, it had decreased to 647; in 1861 there were 1004; in 1871, 1030; in 1881, 1205; and in 1891 it had increased to 1572."

[From History, Topography and Directory of Durham, Whellan , London, 1894]

The 1851 Census Index (booklet 60) published by the Cleveland Family History Society may be of value to researchers interested in this parish.

1891 census returns: Transcript and index: please contact Ian Gomersall at: ian.gomersall[at]btinternet[dot]com


Church History

"The Church, dedicated to St. Mary, is a small unpretentious stone edifice, which was considerably restored in 1868. Its earliest portions date from the beginning of the thirteenth century, but only two or three of the windows are of this date, the others being of later insertion. The church consists of nave, chancel, south porch, and a vestry; ove rthe western end of the nave is the bell-cot.

"The seating in the church provides for 180. The living is a rectory in the gift of Lord Barnard, with the vicarage of Staindrop annexed. The value of this rectory is £270, and with the living of Staindrop the income amounts to £570."

[From History, Topography and Directory of Durham, Whellan , London, 1894]


Church Records

The Parish Registers for the period 1578-1966 are deposited at Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham, DH1 5UL (EP/Coc).

Index to the Baptisms 1813-1838 (82 kbytes).

Index to the Burials 1807-1840 (31 kbytes).

Marriage indexes for 1579-1837 (27 kbytes) from the George Bell Collection of Durham and Northumberland Indexes.

The Marriages (1579-1837) are included in the Joiner Marriage Index.

Burials at St Mary's Cockfield, 1578-1799 A transcript and index
Burials at St Mary's Cockfield, 1800-1840 An index

For details of these last two please contact Ian Gomersall at: ian.gomersall[at]btinternet[dot]com


Description & Travel

You can see pictures of Cockfield which are provided by:




Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Cockfield has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.



You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NZ125243 (Lat/Lon: 54.613834, -1.808023), Cockfield which are provided by: