Romaldkirk Parish information from Bulmers' 1890.


Geographical and Historical information from the year 1890.

Wapentake of Gilling West - Electoral Division of Startforth - Petty Sessional Division of Greta Bridge - Poor Law Union of Teesdale - County Court District of Barnard Castle - Rural Deanery of Richmond North - Archdeaconry of Richmond - Diocese of Ripon.

This parish for ecclesiastical purposes consists of the townships of Romaldkirk, Cotherstone, Hunderthwaite, and Lartington, lying on the south bank of the Tees, and covering an area of 21,415 acres. From "Romantic Deepdale's slender rill" to the extreme limit of the parish the scenery is charmingly attractive, and in many places picturesquely beautiful.

The township of Romaldkirk contains 1,324 acres of land, belonging chiefly to the rector of the parish in right of his church, Lieut.-Col. Robert Anthony Hugginson, late 3rd Durham Light Infantry, J.P., Romaldkirk; Timothy Hutchinson, Esq., Eggleston Hall; William Kipling, Esq., Romaldkirk; Thomas Helmer, Esq., Romaldkirk; Thomas Helmer, junr., Esq., Riga, Russia; and William Heslop, Marwood. The soil is a gravelly loam with slaty subsoil, and is chiefly laid down in pasture. The rateable value is £1,824, and the population, according to the census of 1881, 278.

The Commissioners of the Conqueror in their Survey, which was completed about A.D. 1086, record that "In Rumoldescherce there is of the geld one carucate of land, and there may have been two ploughs; Torfin held it, now Bodin has it; and it is waste." In an inquisition of the baronies and knight's fees, taken by order of Edward I., and called Kirkby's Inquest, it is stated that there were two carucates of land of the king's geld in Rumbaldekirk, whereof one was held by Brian Fitz Alan, and the other by the rector of St. Rumold as the endowment of his church. The successive rectors have been lords of the manor of this portion; the other portion, somewhat more than half the township, is freehold.

The village is charmingly situated on the south bank of the Tees, six miles N.W. of Barnard Castle, and four miles S.E. of Middleton in Teesdale. The houses are ranged round a green, and near the centre stands a pair of ancient stocks. Near the village is a station on the Tees Valley branch of the North Eastern railway. Fairs for cattle are held here on the first Thursday in April, and the first Thursday after Brough Hill fair.

The church is an ancient cruciform structure in the Early English and Decorated styles, rebuilt by Sir Henry Fitzhugh, lord of Ravensworth and Cotherstone, about the year 1300. It consists of chancel, nave with side aisles, north and south transepts, and an embattled western tower with pinnacles, containing a clock and three bells. How many buildings previously occupied the site is not known, but as the name of the place was Rumoldskirk at the time of the Conquest, it is evident that there was a church here in Saxon times. As it is not specifically mentioned by the Norman commissioners, it was probably, like the rest of the parish, wasted by the Conqueror's soldiers. The identity of Romald, the patron saint, has not been established with absolute certainty. The commonly received opinion is that the church was named after Rumwald, son of Alchfrid, king of Deira, who becoming a missionary, converted the inhabitants of Lower Germany, and was canonized. The discovery of two frescoes beneath the whitewash on the two westernmost pillars of the nave seems to confirm the popular belief. On one is represented a pilgrim, clad in tunic and girdle, carrying a pilgrim's staff in his right hand; on the other was the evangelical symbol of St. Mark - a winged lion treading a scroll with a legend - a glory round his head. The human form is supposed to represent St. Romald; the winged lion Venice; which city the saint visited in his missionary journeys. In the north transept is the full length effigy of an armour-clad knight, representing most probably Sir Henry Fitzhugh, the rebuilder of the church. This Henry Fitzhugh died at Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1304, and was buried here, In the chancel formerly stood the marble altar-tomb of John Newelyne, a rector of this church, who died about the year 1475. It bore a brass exhibiting a priest vested in a cope, and round the margin was a brass label bearing an inscription in Latin, which Dr. Whitaker has transcribed in his "History of Richmondshire." From this we learn that he founded and endowed a chantry in perpetuity at the east end of the south aisle of this church, and a chapel upon a bridge over the Tees at Egglestone. This tomb was removed and destroyed when the chancel was repaired and refitted about sixty years ago. There are memorial tablets in the chancel to the Cleveland, Helmer, Hutchinson, Price, and other families, and in the north transept to the Maires of Lartington. A very fine stained glass window of five lights by Barnett, of Newcastle, adorns the south transept. It was inserted in 1876, to the memory of Ralph Dent, of Streatlam House. Some repairs were done to the fabric in 1869, at an expense of £609, but it is now greatly in need of restoration and refurnishing. The pews are of the old "box" type, and the pulpit is of antiquated form. The churchyard will shortly be closed, and an acre of ground, the gift of the patron and the late rector, has been inclosed for a cemetery.

The register dates from 1578. The living is a rectory in the gift of the Earl of Strathmore, worth £850, including 762½ acres of glebe with residence, and held by the Rev. Samuel Gilbert Beal, M.A., since November, 1889.

Among the rectors of Romaldkirk four have been raised to the episcopate: Knight to the bishopric of Bath and Wells in 1541; Oglethorpe to Carlisle in 1557. He was the only one of all the bishops who could be induced to crown Elizabeth; and the following year she deposed him for refusing to acknowledge her claim to supremacy. Best, another rector of Romaldkirk, was appointed to the vacant bishopric in 1560; and Barnes to the same see in 1570, and subsequently translated to Durham.

The Wesleyan Methodists have a chapel in the village built in 1869, at a cost of £250, exclusive of the labour, which was given gratuitously by the members. It is in Teesdale Circuit, and is free from debt.

The Free school was founded and endowed pursuant to the will of John Parkin, of Lartington, who died in 1633, bequeathing the sum of £300 for the purpose. The intentions of the testator were carried into effect in 1686 by the Rev. Charles Parkin, who invested £300 in the purchase of a yearly rent-charge of £20. The school has an average attendance of 59 children, 20 of whom are free, and the rest pay a nominal fee. It appears from the report of the Charity Commissioners in 1st Edward VI., that there was then in the parish "a gramer scole," the master's stipend being £3 6s. 8d. per annum.

A Hospital was erected in 1674 by William Hutchinson, Esq., of Clements Inn, London, who in 1693 endowed it and a school he had built at Bowes, with lands and buildings at Streethead, Cragg, Sleightholme, and Romaldkirk. This charity was subsequently considerably augmented by allotments at inclosures. The hospital premises were rebuilt in 1829, for the accommodation of six poor men or women, each of whom must be aged, poor, and of the Protestant religion. This charity is now administered under a revised scheme of the Charity Commissioners, approved in 1877, and called "The Romaldkirk Almshouse and School Foundation." The income from the endowment is about £600 per annum, of which three-fifths are allotted to the Bowes Grammar school, and the remaining two-fifths to Romaldkirk. Of this latter sum, £116 is paid to the hospital, and the residue is applied to educational purposes. Each of the inmates of the hospital receives £16 a year, paid quarterly.

COTHERSTON is a township containing 9,303 acres, chiefly the property of the Earl of Strathmore, who is lord of the manor; the Right Rev. Monsignor Witham, Lartington Hall; John Bourne, Esq., Eglesfield House, Yatton, Bristol; Timothy Hutchinson, Esq., Egglestone Hall, Darlington; William Kipling, Esq., Romaldkirk; Thomas Alderson, Romaldkirk; John Dent, Thringarth; General Heasty; the exors. of John Bayles; John Raine, Corn Park; Thomas Brown, Scargill; Christopher Brown, Marske; James Iceton, Willoughby; and Christopher Brown, Boozwood.

It is valued, for rating purposes, at £6,002, and had, in 1881, a population of 688. The Tees Valley branch railway passes through the township, and has a station near the village. A portion of the township is open moor. The land is nearly all laid down in pasture.

The manor of Cotherston, Codrestune in Domesday Book, came into the possession of the Fitzhughs, of Ravensworth, soon after the Conquest. They had a house here, which Henry fil Hervey by royal license, obtained in 1201, converted into a castle. A fragment only of this fortress now remains, - a portion of one wall of the keep, 14 or 15 feet high and 10 or 12 feet long. It is picturesquely situated near the confluence of the Balder beck and the Tees. This castle is said by tradition to have been destroyed by the Scots in one of their plundering expeditions, and the fragments of burnt wood which have been dug up on the site seem to corroborate the story. Tradition has also preserved the memory of a chapel, and in Chapel Garth adjoining have been found an ancient font, window heads, both round and pointed, and other fragments of an ecclesiastical character.

From the Fitzhughs Cotherston descended to the Stapletons, and thence, by marriage, to the Huddlestons, of Millom, in whose possession it remained until the middle of last century, when William Cavendish, Marquis of Hartington, became lord of the freehold manor, containing about 760 acres. It was subsequently purchased from the Duke of Devonshire by the Earl of Strathmore.

The copyhold manor of Thwaite, which is united with Hunderthwaite, anciently belonged to the Fitz Alans, lords of Bedale. Matilda, daughter and co-heir of Brian Fitz Alan, married Sir Gilbert de Stapleton. After four descents, it was conveyed, by the marriage of an heiress to Sir John Huddleston, and it remained in the possession of this family 400 years. In 1741 it was purchased by G. Bowes, Esq., of Streatlam Castle, from whom it has descended to the Earl of Strathmore. On this estate, in 1784, a leaden jar containing a large quantity of old English pennies was found by some workmen who were engaged in turning up the sward of an ancient pasture. Many of the coins were cut into halves and quarters, which were legal tenders before the issue of halfpence and farthings. Singularly enough, a dim tradition of some hidden treasure had induced several persons to dig about the place previously. Thwaite Hall was one of the seats of the Huddlestons, whose principal residence was Millom Castle. Sir William Huddleston was a zealous and devoted royalist during the Cromwellian wars; he raised a regiment of horse for the service of his sovereign, as also a regiment of foot; and the latter he maintained at his own expense. At the battle of Edgehill, he retook the royal standard from the enemy, and for this act of personal valour, he was made a knight banneret by the king on the field.

The village of Cotherston is delightfully situated on the south bank of the Tees, four miles N.W. of Barnard Castle, and near the railway station of its own name. The scenery around is beautiful, the air bracing, and the place much frequented as a health resort. The houses are well built, many of them being of the modern villa type, and the streets paved, and lighted with oil lamps, giving the village the appearance of a small town.

A church was erected in 1881, as a chapel-of-ease to Romaldkirk, and dedicated to St. Cuthbert. It is in the Early English style, and consists of chancel, nave, vestry, organ chamber, and west tower, containing a peal of six bells, presented by Mr. Jonathan Pearson, of Notting Hill, London, The plans were prepared by Mr. Clarke, architect, London, and the contractors were Messrs. Kyle, of Barnard Castle; the woodwork, which is of pitchpine, being executed by Messrs. Robinson, of Lartington. The total cost was £2,200. The church is not yet consecrated.

The Congregational Chapel, built in 1869, superseded an older one, said to have been the first church erected by that denomination in Teesdale, The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, built in 1872, in lieu of an older building, is a commodious structure, capable of seating 300 persons. Behind the chapel is a day school belonging to that body, attended by about 30 children. The total cost was between £1,300 and £1,400. The Primitive Methodists and the Society of Friends have also places of worship in the village.

The parochial school is endowed with 5½ acres of land, left by the late John Bourne, Esq., of Staindrop, which now lets for £18 a year, and for this sum 16 children are taught free. The average attendance is about 50.

Briscoe, Naby, Corn Park, Leap House, and Towler Hill are hamlets in this township.

The Hury reservoir for the supply of water to the towns of Stockton and Middlesbrough is partly in this township and partly in that of Hunderthwaite. Its construction was commenced in 1884, and it will be completed in 1890, the probable cost of the entire work being about £180,000. The reservoir is 1¼ miles in length, one-third of a mile in breadth, 90 feet in its greatest depth, and has a water area of 160 acres. Its capacity is 900,000,000 gallons. Mr. James Mansergh, M. Inst. C.E., Westminster, is the engineer, and the contractors are the well known firm of Walter Scott & Co., Newcastle-on-Tyne. Another reservoir has been commenced at Blackton, a little further up the Balder, and will be completed in three or four years, at an estimated cost of £120,000. Its capacity will be about two-thirds of the Hury reservoir.

HUNDERTHWAITE is a township containing 5,338 acres, of which, nearly 5,000 acres were formerly open moors; but these have been inclosed and drained in late years, and converted into excellent land, which is chiefly laid down in pasture. Freestone and limestone are found here. The township is valued for rating purposes at £3,835, and has a population of 285, who are chiefly employed in field labour. The earl of Strathmore, who is also lord of the manor, Timothy Hutchinson, Esq., Egglestone hall; Lieut.-Col. Robt. Anth. Hugginson, J.P., Romaldkirk; Wm. Kipling, Esq., Romaldkirk; John Sherlock Helmer, Esq., Wildon Grange; John B. Dent, Hunderthwaite; John Dent, Balder Head; John Dent, Thringarth; Edwd. Raine, Park House; Mrs. Gothorp, Ripon; Wm. Dent, Barnard Castle; Wm. Walker, Darlington; the exors. of John N. Kipling and of Geo. Tarn; the exors. of John Hutchinson, Sedgfield; and James Bayles, Hunderthwaite, are the principal landowners.

The manor of Hunderthwaite came by marriage into the possession of the Huddlestons in the reign of Edward II., and was held by the same family without alienation, till sold by William Huddleston in 1741. The purchaser was George Bowes, Esq., of Streatlam, from whom it has descended to the present owner.

The village is small, and is situated on the southern acclivity of Teesdale, one mile from Romaldkirk. Hury, Newhouses, Woden Croft, and Thorngarth Hill are hamlets in this township. The parochial school, situated in Baldersdale, is endowed with the rent of eight or 10 acres of land, and is attended by 54 children. Divine service is held in it every alternate Sunday. The Wesleyan Methodists have a chapel in Baldersdale, built in 1861.

LARTINGTON township contains 5,417 acres of land lying on the south bank of the Tees, and stretching to the borders of Stainmore's dreary waste. The Right Rev. Monsignor Witham is lord of the manor and owner of the greater part of the township. The soil is loamy on a subsoil of blue and yellow clay, overlying freestone and millstone grit. Wheat, oats, and barley are the principal cereal crops, but a large portion of the land is in pasture.

The rateable value is £3,062, and the number of inhabitants, 206.

At the time of Domesday Survey the manor of Lartington belonged to Torfin, and afterwards to Bodin, his son, from whom it descended to the Fitzhughs, lords of Ravensworth. It subsequently passed through several families, and in 1629, was purchased by Christiana, Countess of Devonshire, who, conjointly with her son, sold it shortly afterwards to Francis Appleby. Margaret, the only child and heiress of this gentleman, married Thos. Maire, Esq., of Hardwick, county Durham, a member of an old catholic family in that county. John Maire, his grandson, having no issue, bequeathed all his estates to his nephew, Henry Lawson, Esq., who assumed the name and arms of Maire, in 1771. Subsequently he succeeded to the title and estates of his brother, Sir John Lawson, when he resumed the name of Lawson, and the Lartington estate, in pursuance of the conditions of his uncle's will, went to his sister Catherine, wife of John Silvertop, Esq. Their son, Henry Thornton Maire Silvertop, married Eliza Witham, neice and heiress of William Witham, Esq., of Cliffe-upon-Tees, and assumed the name of Witham. The present owner is the fourth and surviving son of this marriage.

Lartington Hall, the seat of the Right Rev. Monsignor Witham, is a spacious stone mansion, situated in a richly wooded park skirted by the river Tees. The interior has been much improved in recent years; and contains some exquisite wood carving by Signor Bulletti, a Florentine artist. The ground in front has been terraced, and a magnificent new entrance hall constructed, comprising lobby, vestibule, and corridor, 100 feet in length. The vestibule is raised on slender pillars connected by pointed arches, ornamented with the crests of the families of Witham, Silvertop, and Maire. The apartments are furnished in a most elegant and costly style, and numerous valuable pictures adorn the walls. There is a valuable museum, rich in geological and mineralogical specimens, and containing several paintings by the old masters, and gems of modern art.

Adjoining the hall is a Catholic chapel, dedicated to St. Lawrence. Here is a painting of the Crucifixion by Le Brun, in which the figure appears to stand out as if it were a piece of sculpture. There are also five very beautiful stained glass windows. The late Rev. Michael Ellis was chaplain for half-a-century. The present chaplain is the Rev. Wm. Kirkham. Near the hall is the cemetery, half-an-acre in extent, consecrated in 1877. The mortuary chapel is a little gem of neatness, The interior walls are lined with Caen stone, and adorned with statues, tablets, &c., the work of Messrs. Priestman and Sons, of Darlington. The altar is of the same material with an exquisitely carved front in three panels, bearing a representation of the Crucifixion in the centre, the Pelican feeding her young on one side, and the sacrifice of the paschal lamb on the other.

There was a chantry at Lartington, probably founded by one of the Fitzhughs. It was dedicated to Our Lady, and in 1546 was valued at £5 6s. 8d. per annum. The building was still standing in the year 1620, but not a trace now remains.

The village, with its neat stone houses and cottages, and their trim kept gardens, presents a picture of rural happiness and contentment. It stands about two miles W. of Barnard Castle, and near the Lartington station on the South Durham railway which passes through the township. There is a Catholic school in the village, attended by 30 children, and supported by the Right Rev. Monsignor Witham.

Deepdale is a charmingly romantic glen in this township, traversed by a stream which tumbles in glorious confusion down the rocks at the head of the glen, forming a picturesque waterfall.

[Description(s) from Bulmer's History and Directory of North Yorkshire (1890)]


  • Transcript of the entry for the Post Office, professions and trades in Bulmer's Directory of 1890.

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