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The name Eggleston has various explanations. One myth is that one of the last Eagles in the area was shot on a stone in the pound, giving rise to the name Eaglstone. The Old English derivation is “Ecgel’stun” or village and yet another account of a battle in the area,mentioned in the Saxon Chronicles, says “fought at Egesan Stane”. So should it have an “e” or not? Is it stoe or ton!
Eggleston from way back when
The oldest proof of man’s presence in Eggleston are flints found in Stob Green near Folly Top, which are now in Bowes Museum. These from 6000 to 12000 years ago and were possibly brought by Stone Age Mesolithic hunters who came in from the Eden Valley, moving down Teesdale.
The evidence of occupation by the New Stone Age Neolithic people is a cup and ring stones, rediscovered in the last few years, dating from 3000 to 2000 BC, also found in Stob Green Plantation near Folly Top.
The Bronze Age
Next the Bronze Age from 2000 to 500 BC, brought a stone circle, near Foggerthwaite, which was described by historian Hutchinson as `an uniform circle of rough stones with an inward trench and in the centre a cairn. At a small distance and close by a brook, is a large tumulus, crossed from east to west by a row of stones. The adjacent ground forming an inclined plane was probably a field of battle.`
This tumulus may be a round barrow or burial mound. Unfortunately, in 1809, when the enclosures were taking place, the great upright stones were broken up to supply throughs for the enclosure walls and probably the remainder of the stones in the cairns were used to repair roads. The battle mentioned by Hutchinson may have been the fight in 603 between Ethelfrith, King of Northumberland, and Adan, King of the Scots, at a place called `Egesan -stane.` In 1967, a Bucket Urn containing burial was found in the river at Egglesburn.
Eggleston probably existed as a small Saxon settlement during Roman times and may have had Roman influence. There has been Roman pottery found in the grounds of Eggleston Hall and the old road from Eggleston to Stanhope is always referred to as the Roman Road but there is no other evidence of Roman occupation and it was probably just a marching zone for Roman troops moving up to Hadrian’s Wall. There were also the Scottish raiders to contend with. In 1070 King Malcolm of Scotland killed English nobles at Hunderthwaite and devastated Romaldkirk. It may be that he was responsible for the entry in the Domesday Book of 1086, which says Egliston was wasted!
In 1131 the monks from Rievaulx Abbey were granted extensive pasturage in Teesdale by Bernard Baliol, which includes the area still known as Monks Moor, bordering `Egleshope`.
In 1230 Eggleston was established as a separate manor with its own Lord but still under the jurisdiction of the Manor of Raby.
The bridge over the Tees was built around 1450 and was described as `wellarchid`. A chapel was founded at the southern end of the bridge by Thomas Newleyne, Rector of Romaldkirk but became disused after the Reformation and was demolished in the 17th Century, since when a hooded monk is said to haunt the bridge.
The Lead Industry
The lead industry was important around Eggleston for about 500 years. The first recorded mine was Flakebrigg, which was confiscated from the Earl of Westmoreland after the Uprising of the North and granted by Elizabeth 1s to Ralph Bowes.
But Eggleston was most important for smelting. In 1517, Sir George Bowes had the easement of the hill in Eggleston for smelting his lead and a map dated 1614 shows `Lady Bowes Leade Myll` as a water-powered blast furnace on Eggleston Beck. The location later changed to Blackton Beck and the lease was taken over by the London Lead Company in 1771.They extended the site to three mills, the last one built by Robert Stagg in the 1820`s and it became a teaching and experimental school for the smelting and refining processes.
The last mill, which used the long horizontal flue and chimney, the ruins of which are still visible, was closed in 1904. The flue ran along the ground for 700 yards, ending with a chimney and was so constricted to take the poisonous lead fumes away from the mill. Every few months the deposits of lead in the flue were scraped out by boys, water babies style. The lead was then flushed down the flue by water from reservoirs on the fell and the lead allowed to settle in settling ponds and reclaimed. The chimney at the end of the flue survived until about 1930.
When Tom Allison, a former miner demolished it (by removing stones from the base and replacing them with wood, then setting fire to the wood), the chimney demolition was watched by a crowd of villagers, standing on the road at the top if the mill lane. A thick mist descended all around the Blackton area and they never actually saw the chimney fall. Shortly afterwards the mist lifted and the sun came out. The stone from the chimney and the now disused smelter mills was used to construct houses in Eggleston.
During the London Lead Company’s time in the area, many improvements were carried out. New cottages were built of local stone, at Prospect Terrace and South Terrace. In 1889 the Reading Room was built by the London Lead Company (LLC) on land donated by Squire Hutchinson. In the 19th Century, in order to improve the transport of lead ore, coal and refined lead, the LLC improved the roads, building the new road from Eggleston to Stanhope.
The tracks, which the jaggers used, carrying goods in panniers on horseback, were improved so that carts could be used. At this time the toll-gate at Gate House, which had been used during the 18th century was taken out of use. The track to Egglesburn was over a ford, which was replaced by Blackton viaduct in 1860. Nearby still stands one of the two Saddle houses, where the packhorse’s saddles and bridles were kept and repaired.
When the railway was built, coal was carted from Romaldkirk station and lead and silver taken back there. The end of the lead industry caused great changes for Eggleston, many men leaving, some to work in the coal mines, and the mills were dismantled.
The boundaries of Eggleston seem of little importance to most inheritance today, but in 1583, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I was informed that Anthony Arrowsmith and others `being weaponed with swords, daggers, lances, javelins, bills and divers other unlawful weapons, assembled on Eggleston Moor and made perambulation about certain parcels thereof and claimed all the ground within the same perambulation to be within the township of Egleston.` What became of this we don’t know but this land to the west of Egglesburn is still in the Middleton parish today. Anthony Arrowsmith must have been a trouble maker, because in 1599 Jerome Bowes obtained a grant for the property of Anthony Arrowsmith, who was found guilty of felony at Durham Assizes.
The earliest known detailed map of the dales settlement is the 1614 map of Eggleston, which shows two rows of farmsteads with associated outbuildings facing each other across the open green. Traces of these old buildings are still to be found on the west side of the green. There were three village fields, East, Middle and West fields, which were divided into strips. The field terraces, which still exist to the west of Eggleston are the remains of these. The map also shows a small hamlet called Stratwith at the top of Gordon Bank.
Eggleston Hall was built about this time, in the early 17th century and Collingwood Mill was operational. In 1644 the miller returned from a trip to Newcastle and brought the plague. This devastated Romaldkirk and Barnard Castle. The farmers of Eggleston left their produce on a stone at Folly Top, called either the Bacon, Baking or Bawcock Stone and the people of Barnard Castle left their money in a dish of vinegar, which was supposed to disinfect it. This stone was broken up for walling but replaced by one from the Hall gates.
In the 1660`s Christopher Sanderson was lord of the manor of Eggleston. He was a Spy for the Royalists against the Puritans. In his diaries he details the weather and in 1673 he recorded that 400 red deer perished in the Forest in the severe weather.
After Christopher Sanderson, the manor-ship came to Mr Baker and then in the middle of the 18th century, Timothy Hutchinson bought the estate and rebuilt the Hall. It was again altered by Timothy`s son William, in about 1820, to the design of Ignatius Bonomi. The Gray family bought the Hall in 1919,when the Hutchinson Estate was sold. Many of the farms were sold to the occupying tenants.
The Hall has continued in the ownership of the Gray family ever since and has been used as a convalescent hospital during during the Second World War and a finishing school for young ladies.
The moor is a well-known grouse moor and the lord of the manor owned the sporting rights. The Hon. John Byng wrote in 1792 as he journeyed up the dale from Romaldkirk,`The road now became worse; and in 3 more miles led to the bank of the Tees, in a wild bleak country, only inhabited by miners or visited by grouse shooters who came in parties into this country at this season. At Eggleston, in the Durham side , there is a smart white house of Mr Hutchinson’s and I observe, with pleasure the demolition of heath, by the progress of the plough up the hill`.
Much of Eggleston Common and the Town fields were enclosed between 1785 and about 1810 and with the building of walls, the improvement of roads and the increase in work at the Smelt Mills, this would be a time of great change for Eggleston. The new Lead Company houses were built or altered and farms were allotted the newly enclosed land by the Hutchinson Estate.
The people of Eggleston have had a place of worship of their own since at least the 15th century. First the chapel on the southern end of the bridge, then the old church in the grounds of the Hall, which was a chapel of Ease to Middleton Church, whose records state that in 1663 – `In this parish is a Chapel of Ease at Eggleston, in which the inhabitants of the quarter receive the Communion once a year on Carlin Sunday. The parson (of Middleton) is obliged to pay the Curate 6s, per annum, according to ancient custom. The Curate had only a licence to be a reader but was never ordained. They had no right to Burials, Baptismsor Churching s save in the Church of Middleton. However, people were buried in the churchyard, as there are many monuments going back to the Sanderson’s in the 17th century.
The Three Tuns public house. Ethel’s father, Sid Thompson, served his apprenticeship at the blacksmiths shop and Colin (who is no relation to Arthur and John,) tells of another forge being found at Folly House when alterations were made to the farmhouse, a relic of blacksmithing there in the 10th century.
There was a sawmill at Town head, where besides wheels, doors, and windows being made, the undertakers business was conducted. There were three shops:
- Smiths General Grocers on Church Bank
- a sweet shop on Gordon Bank run by another Bainbridge family and
- the Post Office
The new church on Church Bank, bordering the green, was completed in 1875 at a cost of £1,450.13s.4p and became a parish in its own right in 1875.As well as the two chapels still in use there used to be a Primitive Methodist Chapel in Neamour Lane and an Independent Chapel on the east of the green where the Post Office was.
Another and interesting building is Stob Green House, which is to date from before 1500. In 1774, the only one-storey cottage was modernised, creating an upper and lower storey and the front front door was provided with stone jambs and an overhead arch. A circular opening in the west end barn wall is said to have been a furnace for the lead smelting and during the late 18th century a small room upstairs, which had iron bars at the window, was used as a jail. It is not surprising that such an old building should be said to have a resident ghost and there is supposedly a secret tunnel connecting Stob Green and the Hall.
The more recent history of Eggleston is recalled by three inhabitants ,John Bainbridge and his wife Ethel (nee Thompson)and John’s brother Arthur, who reminisced with Colin Bainbridge, who farms Folly House, about the many businesses and shops which enriched their childhood. Matthews Rain’s pop factory was at the Gate House with his shop on Church Bank, known as Raine`s popshop. Coats the milliner’s shop was two houses further down the bank, this was later Smiths grocers shop. There were two joiners shops and the village blacksmiths shop, which served as a meeting place and the hub of the community, adjoined the Three Tuns public house. Ethel s father, Sid Thompson, served his apprenticeship at the blacksmiths shop and Colin (no relation to Arthur and John,) tells of another forge being found at Folly House when alterations were made to the farmhouse, a relic of blacksmithing there in the 10th century. There was a sawmill at Townhead, where besides wheels, doors, and windows being made, and the undertakers business was conducted. There were three shops, Smiths General Grocers on Church Bank, a sweet shop on Gordon Bank run by another Bainbridge family and the Post Office and grocery shop on the east side of the village. The Post Office was originally on the other side of the green in the house now called Carrisbrooke. It was moved over the green in 1913.It used to be run by Mrs Redfearn whose daughter Elizabeth Mary, married Harold Bainbridge and she continued as postmistress. They had three sons , John, Arthur and David. John remembers the many telegrams he delivered on his bicycle to local people during the war years, including the worst possible news from the front. David and his wife Rhona and family later took over the Post Office and shop and ran a successful fruitcake baking and grocery shop on the east side of the village. The Post Office was originally on the other side of the green in the house now called Carrisbrooke. It was moved over the green in 1913. It used to be run by Mrs Redfearn whose daughter Elizabeth Mary, married Harold Bainbridge and she continued as postmistress. They had three sons , John, Arthur and David. John remembers the many telegrams he delivered on his bicycle to local people during the war years, including the worst possible news from the front. David and his wife Rhona and family later took over the Post Office and shop and ran a successful fruitcake baking business until it closed in 2004.
John tells that his father, after surviving active service in France during the Fist World War, where he was an officers driver, opened a haulage company in Eggleston and introduced the first bus and taxi service. A Mr Davison started the Gate House Garage in the 1920s. The Davison family also had the shop in the village which had been Coates Milliners Shop. Mr A C Lowson took over the Garage in about 1930 and it is now run by his grandson Terry.
During the Second World War because the production of food was so important, farmers were exempt from call-up but John remembers Eggleston’s home guard, originally without guns but later sporting arms and having learned to make bombs. They trained up at the old smelt mill, under the command of Jack Beadle, the estate gamekeeper. Ethel s father was billeting officer, having the difficult task of finding families to take evacuees. Ethel remembers that the children were not always welcomed but many lasting relationships resulted, with the evacuees communicating with their hosts and making return visits for many years.
When asked about the school, John Ethel and Arthur all remember one master at the three-roomed school, John William Stokoe, who was headmaster from before 1914 to about 1939. He had obviously made a lasting impression on them all. In later life Ethel challenged Mr Stokoe on how hard he had been on the pupils, to receive the reply, “I made you good citizens”.
After primary school, like their peers, faced several options . John won a scholarship to Barnard Castle Public School, but left to take care of the family farm. Ethel went on to the Mount School, a private girls in Bishop Auckland. She travelled by train from Romaldkirk and had a two mile walk with others to and from the station every day. The village school was housed in a substantial stone building opposite the Village Hall. It was in need of modernising, instead of which it was demolished and a substandard modern building replaced it in 1964. It was later closed in 1984, since when the building has been disused, in 2011 this structure was demolished and planning permission given for housebuilding.
We now take for granted that water will flow from the taps in our houses and we can throw a switch to light and power our homes but electricity only came to the village in 1934 and to Egglesburn and Folly area in the 1950s. The water supply was installed in 1956-57, when a small reservoir, which was fed by numerous springs was constructed on the fell side next to the Stanhope road. Before that water had to be carried from the well on the green or from taps situated at Hill Top or from Lartington.
Leisure activities in the village would be concerts in the school, village hall and the chapel. Eggleston had a popular concert group; some of those remembered being Lance and |Jack Bainbridge, (yet another Bainbridge family who ran the sweet who ran the sweet shop on Gordon Bank), Hugh Moor,(known as Hughie ), and Herbert Tarn. There was a Punch and Judy show operated by Mr Smith, the headmaster of the school and Mr Bert Lee, a builders merchant. Stan Bainbridge’s family had a fiddle dance band and performed at local dances. Eggleston Brass Band was popular and reformed after the war, playing for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth ll. They practised at Hugh Adamson’s sawmill at Stob Green but eventually merged with Middleton Silver Band in the late 1950s. Eggleston also had a Cricket Club, playing down at the Haughs near Eggleston Bridge. The two village pubs have always been an important part of village life. In the early days The Moorcock was thought to be the the workingman`s pub frequented by timber fellers, while the Three Tuns was thought to be more upper class.
Eggleston Agricultural Show is still a major event in the area. It was first held in 1864 in a field next to the Three Tuns Inn. Eggleston Band played all day and £5 was taken at the gate, women and children were admitted free. In 1880, it moved to the Haughs by permission of Timothy Hutchinson and in 1910, when the gate money was 6p, £207. 7s. 2P was taken. In 1911 the stationmaster at Romaldkirk said that on Eggleston Show day he had to take on extra staff and had collected over 4,000 tickets. Two trains arrived at 6am and 9am. In 1974 the show moved to High Shipley Farm and then in 2003, moved to Streatlam Park near Stainton Village to the east of Barnard castle.
In 2012 the show committee accepted an opportunity to return to a parish location at West Barnley Farm, with great success, and it is planned for the show to continue being held within the parish for many years to come. This is due to kind help of Mr Hobson the owner of the farm who has provided his fields for the use of the show.
Celebrating our past
To celebrate the 2000 millennium, a committee was formed, and their lasting record resulted in the publication of a history book on Eggleston and the restoration of Eggleston Carnival Day. To commemorate the millennium, a joint effort between the committee and the parish council provided extra seating on the village green and the millennium stone, on which the Blackton smelt chimney is shown – in recognition of the importance of the industrial past in the history of Eggleston.
To mark the centenary of the start of the first world war a commemorative stone was commissioned by the council and paid for by public subscription to be placed outside the village hall. It was made by sculptor Mr Phil Townsend, a resident of the parish.