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"This parish, which comprises the townships of Hamsterley and South Bedburn, formed part of the parish of St. Andrew's Auckland, and is bounded on the north by the parish of Wolsingham, on the west by Middleton-in-Teesdale, on the south by the chapelry of Lynesack, on the south-east by Evenwood, on the north-east by Witton-le-Wear, and on the east by Etherley.

"Hamsterley Township contains an area of 4003 acres, and the value of property assessed to the county rate in 1892 was £2684. There are two corn-mills in the township: the one called Beckside Mill is situated south of the village, on the Lynburn, which, though fordable at most times, becomes very much swollen by heavy rains, and is crossed by a foot bridge at the high road.

"Hamsterley Village is situated pleasantly on the brow of a hill, seven miles west by north of Bishop Auckland, and two miles and a half south-west from Witton-le-Wear. It retains its rural aspect, and some of the houses are still thatched, whilst others are falling into ruins. The annual feast, or hopping, was considered one of the most noted in the county, the sports consisting of cricket, wrestling, dog-trailing, quoiting, foot races, donkey races, &c. &c.

"South Bedburn Township is very extensive, though a thinly populated district. Its area is 6765 acres, and the property was assessed to the county rate, in 1892, at £2693. The township occupies the north-western portion of the chpaelry; the scenery is bold and picturesque; and the several seats and mansions by which the district is surrounded and ornamented, have, of late years, been much improved by their respective proprietors.

"Bedburn is a small village, situated amidst charming scenery on the stream of the same name. Here for many years a forge for the manufacturing of edge tools, spades, &c., was carried on. It has now become a stocking factory and saw-mill, which is driven by water, and is the principal industry of the township."

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



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



"Hamsterley Township: The number of inhabitants in 1801 was 491; in 1811, 529; in 1821, 552; in 1831, 503; in 1841, 490; in 1851, 532; in 1861, 522; in 1871, 475; in 1881, 493; and in 1891, 442 souls.

"South Bedburn Township: The population in 1801 was 310; in 1811, 421; in 1821, 366; in 1831, 296; in 1841, 350; in 1851, 349; in 1861, 332; in 1871, 283; in 1881, 345; and in 1891, 300 souls."

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

The 1851 Census Index (booklet 121 ) published by the Cleveland Family History Society may be of value to researchers interested in this parish.


Church History

"The Church is completely isolated from the village, being fully half a mile north. It is dedicated to St. James, and is a cruciform edifice of very ancient foundation, comprising nave, chancel, and north and south transepts. The earliest portion is the entrance doorway on the south, of simple Norman architecture, the remainder being of the Early Decorated style, dating from about the close of the thirteenth century."

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


Church Records

"The register dates from 1588." [From History, Topography and Directory of Durham, Whellan , London, 1894]

The Parish Registers for the period 1580-1992 are deposited at Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham, DH1 5UL (EP/Ham).

Marriage indexes for 1580-1837 (68 kbytes) from the George Bell Collection of Durham and Northumberland Indexes.

The Marriages (1580-1837) are included in the Joiner Marriage Index.

The following records for churches in the ancient parish of Easington are also available at Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham, DH1 5UL:-

  • Lynesack 1848-1958 (EP/Lyn).

Description and Travel

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Historical Geography

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