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Help and advice for Witton-le-Wear

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"This parish formerly comprised the townships of North Bedburn and Witton-le-Wear, but on the formation of the parish of Firtree, the township of North Bedburn became separated in 1862. This parish is now bounded on the north and east by Firtree, on the south-east by Witton Park and Escomb, on the south by Etherley, and on the west by Wolsingham.

"Witton-le-Wear Township comprises an area of 3168 acres, and its ratable value is £14,986. Under the Divided Parishes Act this township received Pit Close and Hargill Hill, two isolated paces, containing 213 acres.

"In this township coal is and has for many years been extensively worked, and stone is also quarried near Harperley. There are also fire-brick and sanitary pipe works in connection with the colliery, which are provided with clay from the pit; and in all there are 700 men and boys employed.

The village of Witton-le-Wear occupies a pleasant and healthy situation, on the southern declivity of an eminence on the north side of the river Wear, four miles west-north-west of Bishop Auckland, and twelve miles south-west from Durham. The village commands a charming view of the castle, with its extensive wooded park, and the picturesqe hills on the south side. The Wear is here crossed by a good substantial bridge of two arches.

"The inhabitants of the villages of High Grange, North Bitchburn, Quarryburn, and Valley Terrace are employed by the North Bitchburn Coal Co. Howden colliery, also in this township, is worked by the same company and comprises the same seams. Here 250 tons per day are drawn, employing 250 men. At hargill Hill the Brockwell seam, 6 feet, is being worked as a landsale pit by Mr. J. proud." [From History, Topography and Directory of Durham, Whellan , London, 1894]



"The population in 1801 was 450; in 1811, 544; in 1821, 531; in 1831, 502; in 1841, 565; in 1851, 918; in 1861, 1366; in 1871, 2329; in 1881, 2469; and in 1891 the number was 2626."

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

The 1851 Census Index (booklet 122) published by the Cleveland Family History Society may be of value to researchers interested in this parish.


Church History

"The Church is an ancient structure, dating from the commencement of the twelfth century, dedicated to St. Philip and St. James, and was formerly prebendal to Auckland College. It is situated on the north side of the road through the village, and consists of a nave and north aisle, a chancel, and a porch on the south-west, which contains a clock, and on the west gable is a bell-cot. The north wall was taken down and re-built in the early part of the present century; a western gallery was erected in 1780. And another has since been added above the north aisle. The roof, which is almost flat, was re-ceiled about 1850, at a cost of £100. The entrance doorway is of the Norman style. Accommodation is provided for about 250 persons. The living is a curacy, not in charge, in the Deanery of Darlington; the owners of Witton Castle estate are, with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, patrons and impropriators. It is of the certified value of £11, 10s. In 1723 the living was augmented by £400 from Queen Anne's Bounty and voluntary subscriptions, and a similar sum was added in 1754. It also receives £10 per annum from Lord Crewe's trustees. Present income, £340. The living is held by the Rev. J. F. Hodgson."

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


Church Records

"The parish register commences in 1558." [From History, Topography and Directory of Durham, Whellan , London, 1894]

The Parish Registers for the period 1558-1978 are deposited at Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham, DH1 5UL (EP/WW).

Marriage indexes for 1558-1837 (38 kbytes) from the George Bell Collection of Durham and Northumberland Indexes.

The Marriages (1558-1837) are included in the Joiner Marriage Index.

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

  • Fir Tree 1869-1994 (EP/Fi).

Description and Travel

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Historical Geography

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