"This parish was anciently very extensive, and comprised the whole of Winlaton and Stella parishes, and the newly formed parish of Greenside. It now comprises only the township of Ryton, with the villages of Ryton, Addison and Stargate. Greenside was formed from this parish in 1886.

"The township of Ryton comprises an area of about 1200 acres, and its ratable value in January 1894 was £16,452.

"The village of Ryton is charmingly situated upon a steep and richly wooded bank, rising from the river Tyne, seven miles west from Newcastle. A finer situation could hardly be imagined, being, as it is, surrounded by scenery of the most picturesque descriptions. The view to the north-west from the churchyard, up the Tyne valley, is equal to anything in the North. The village in itself is extremely pleasant and interesting, and possesses many fine mansions with well wooded grounds. The addition of several handsome terraces and villas during the last thirty years has greatly improved the village. Ryton has long been a popular resort during the summer months, and its well known salubrity attracts many who are in failing health. In the centre of the village stands the picturesque village cross, bearing date 1795.

"The other villages in this parish are Addison, a colliery village, on the main turnpike, abpout a mile east by south of Ryton. It is entirely inhabited by employees of the Stella Coal Co. Stargate is another pit village, about three-quarters of a mile south of Addison."

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



"Census populations for Ryton were:- in 1801, 432; in 1811, 462; in 1821, 445; in 1831, 590; in 1841, 677; in 1851, 739; in 1861, 1140; in 1871, 1939; in 1881, 3036; and in 1891, 3393."

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


Church History

"The Church of the Holy Cross stands in the midst of beautiful and well wooded grounds, on a picturesque and elevated site, overlooking the Tyne valley, at the western extremity of the village. It is an ancient and most interesting edifice, and forms, with its handsome tower and lead covered spire, a pleasing feature in the landscape. The style of architecture is of one period, and the date of its erection is ascribed to the early part of the thirteenth century. It consists of nave with north and south aisles, chancel, north transept or organ chamber, south porch, and a western tower and spire."

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

There is a picture (31 kbytes) of the parish church of the Holy Cross, Ryton; supplied by Richard Hird.


Church Records

"The parish register commences in 1588." [From History, Topography and Directory of Durham, Whellan , London, 1894]

The Parish Registers for the period 1581-1986 are deposited at Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham, DH1 5UL (EP/Ryt).

Marriage indexes for:-

from the George Bell Collection of Durham and Northumberland Indexes.

The Marriages (1559-1837) are included in the Joiner Marriage Index.

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

  • Blaydon see Stella (below)
  • Chopwell 1900-1974 (EP/Cho).
  • Crawcrook 1918-1946 (EP/Craw).
  • Greenside 1886-1988 (E)/Grs).
  • High Spen 1893-1985 (EP/HS).
  • Stella 1845-1975 (EP/Ste).
  • Winlaton 1828-1992 (EP/Win).

There is a page of Burials at High Spen, St Patrick 1892-1965


Description & Travel

The Village of Rowlands Gill, Co. Durham by Mrs K.A.Low

You can see pictures of Ryton which are provided by:





Brian Pears has sorted and arranged a mass of his late father's work in an e-book relating the history of High Spen.

The Life and Times of Coffee Johnny by Elsdon Watson (Coffee Johnny was a famous Winlaton character who was mentioned in the song "Blaydon Races").

The book "High Spen - A Hundred Years" by Col. Alex Johnson is now online. It is well worth reading if you have connections with any mining families in the area - High Spen was not unlike many villages which grew up in the 19th century around coal-mines.

Alex Johnson has another book "Barlow 1925-1935 - Recollections" online as well.

There is a page enitled High Spen Remembered by Harry Burn.

There is a (1959) picture and brief history of the Towneley Arms Public House at Rowlands Gill which dated from 1835. (The picture was drawn by Keith Dixon of South Africa, formerly of Rowlands Gill)

Who was Rowland? - The Origin of 'Rowlands Gill' by Brian Pears.

The Friends of Chopwell Wood have a website with a good history section.

There is a new history "The Winlaton Story" by R. Anderson

There is a page created by the late Tony Brown about the Ironmasters of the Derwent Valley.



You can see maps centred on OS grid reference NZ153644 (Lat/Lon: 54.973968, -1.762962), Ryton which are provided by:


Military Records

There's a fantastic new website giving photographs and an amazing amount of information on war casualties from the former Ryton UDC area. A real labour of love.

High Spen, St Patrick War Memorial and Military Graves

Rowlands Gill Casualties of the World Wars

Rowlands Gill WWI Roll of Honour.

 "Officers and Men from the Gateshead Area who gained Honours during the Great War 1914-1918". This has 374 names. Gateshead Library have photographs of all of them and can supply copies.