"This parish was formerly bounded on the north by Houghton-le-Spring, on the west by the parishes of St. Oswald and St. Giles in the suburbs of Durham, on the south by Kelloe, and on the east by Easington. It included the three constableries of Pittington, Elemore, and Hetton-on-the-Hill; Shadforth and Ludworth, and Sherburn. By an Order in Council, bearing date May 8, 1841, it was ordered that the parish of Pittington be for the future divided into two separate parishes for ecclesiastical purposes; the one part, containing the township of Pittington and the north-western portion of the township of Sherburn, to remain attached to the old church; the other part, comprising the remaining portion of the township of Sherburn, and the whole of Shadforth township, to be assigned to the new church of Shadforth, and to be called "St. Cuthbert's District," Shadforth. Since this there have been three others formed wholly or in part out of this parish, namely Sherburn, Belmont, and Lyons (or Easington Lane). The latter two comprise only portions of the parish of Pittington. It is now bounded on the north-east by Rainton and Belmont, south-east by Easington and Shadforth, and Sherburn on the south and west."The township of Pittington comprises an area of 2494 acres, and its annual value is £12,113, 3s. 4d."[From History, Topography and Directory of Durham, Whellan, London, 1894]


"The population in 1801 was 220; in 1811, 277; in 1821, 304; in 1831, 1632; in 1841, 2295; in 1851, 2530; in 1861, 2155; in 1871, 2107; in 1881, 2231; and in 1891, 2092 souls. This great and rapid increase is attributed to the progress of the collieries in the district."
[From History, Topography and Directory of Durham, Whellan, London, 1894]

Church History

"The Church, one of the finest specimens of ecclesiastical architecture in the diocese, is dedicated to St. Lawrence, and from the style of its most ancient portions, is considered to belong to, or about the year 1070. The date is fixed for the original church, which is supposed to have been without aisles. The north arcade, part of the tower, the chancel, the former side chapel or chantry, and south arcade are regarded as having been added from 1150 to 1230. Previous to 1846, when it was much altered, it consisted of a nave which only extended to the present fifth pillars, and the chancel was longer. The last change was made in 1846, when the old chancel was pulled down, the nave extended by adding an arch to each arcade, and the present chancel built. The walls of the aisles were also rebuilt, and new windows of imitation Norman were substituted for the pointed ones.
"The living is a discharged vicarage in the deanery of Easington, and a peculiar to the Dean and Chapter of Durham, valued in the Liber Regis at £14, 14s. 2d. It was augmented by £10 per year from Lord Crewe's trustees, and one-third of the rent of the Island Farm in Bishop Middleham township, purchased by Queen Anne's Bounty, and containing 152 acres. Four acres were added by the Dean and Chapter of Durham. The glebe includes the vicarage, and a garth and garden of six acres. The manor of Ludworth pays a prescript rent of £3, 12s., in lieu of vicarial tithes of all kinds. The total amount of the living is stated to amount to £680. Rev. James Barmby, B.D., vicar."
[From History, Topography and Directory of Durham, Whellan, London, 1894]

There is a picture (21 kbytes) of the parish church of St. Laurence, Pittington; supplied by Richard Hird.

There is a picture (22 kbytes) of the parish church of Shadforth; supplied by Richard Hird.


Church Records

"The parish register commences in 1574." [From History, Topography and Directory of Durham, Whellan, London, 1894]

The Parish Registers for the period 1574-1957 are deposited at Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham, DH1 5UL (EP/Pi).

Marriage indexes for 1575-1837 (59 kbytes) from the George Bell Collection of Durham and Northumberland Indexes.

Christenings (1574-1812) and marriages (1574-1827) have been entered into the IGI.

The Marriages (1575-1837) are included in the Joiner Marriage Index.

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

  • Shadforth 1839-1979 (EP/Sha).
  • Sherburn 1872-1973 (EP/She).

Description & Travel

"The township of Pittington is said to derive its name from the Pidding Brook, which rises near Moorsley, and flowing southerly, joins Sherburn Water, and falls into the Wear at Old Durham. There is a large colliery in this township at Littletown, worked by Lord Durham. It was sunk in 1834. The daily output is 500 tons of excellent coal, giving employment to 500 men and boys. The Pittington colliery was laid in 1891.
"The village of Low Pittington is situated at the northern extremity of the parish, four miles north by east from Durham, and contains a good literary institute and the railway station.
"High Pittington, a little higher up the hill, is more of a pit village; here is the National School, a Wesleyan and a Primitive Methodist Chapel, and the Co-operative stores.
"Littletown, once called "South Pittington," later Little Pittington, and in 1613 Littletown, was probably the name of the farm near the village. The present village of Littletown has arisen near the colliery worked by the Earl of Durham. It lies on rising ground less than a mile south of the church, and contains a school, reading-room, and a Wesleyan chapel.
"Elemore is an estate formerly included in those of Little Haswell and Haswell Grange in Easington parish, and was given with them, by Bishop Pudsey, to the monastery of Finchale. Elemore Hall is beautifully situated in a valley surrounded by hills, covered with plantations; it is a modern brick building.
"Hallgarth is situated about half a mile south of Pittington, and contains the parish church, the vicarage, and what was formerly the family mansion of the Shipperdsons. It is said to derive its name from the prior's hall, built here by Hugh Whitehead, the last prior, and first Dean of Durham. The estate contains about 912 acres, twenty-eight of which are freehold; the whole is tithe-free, and in an excellent state of cultivation. Lord Londonderry is now the owner of this estate. Hallgarth Mill occupies a sequestered situation about half a mile west of the church.
"Hetton-on-the-Hill, a hamlet to the north-east of Elemore, was anciently united with Hetton-le-Hole; and we find in the twenty-fifth year of the episcopacy of Bishop Hatfield, William de Dalden died seised of half the manor of Hepdon."
[From History, Topography and Directory of Durham, Whellan, London, 1894]
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Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Pittington 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 NZ328443 (Lat/Lon: 54.792719, -1.490879), Pittington which are provided by: