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Castle Eden Parish - County Durham c1891


Castle Eden Parish, which comprises no dependent townships, is bounded on the north by Easington parish, on the west by the chapelry of Wingate (formed of portions of the parishes of Castle Eden and Kelloe), and on the south and east by Monk Hesleden. It comprises an area of 1935 acres, and its annual value is £8473. The number of inhabitants in 1801 was 362; in 1811, 257; in 1821, 281; in 1831, 260; in 1841, 558; in 1851, 491; in 1861, 535; in 1871, 693; in 1881, 880; and in 1891, 1257 souls.


The Hartlepool branch of the North-Eastern Railway extends into this parish, and has a station near the village. Eden is twice mentioned, under the name of Joden or Yoden, before the Conquest; and after that period it became the lordship of Robert de Brus, who granted the chapel to the monks of St. Cuthbert, with all tithes and parochial dues, upon condition that, within four years, the prior of St. Cuthbert should build a chapel within the village, and procure its consecration. This is supposed to be the origin of the parish church of Eden; and that a castle or manorial residence supplied the addition to the name. About the year 1150, William de Sancta Barbara, Bishop of Durham, demised half of the tithes of Castle Eden to Guisborough priory, and the manorial rights were bestowed upon that institution by the son of Adam de Seton. By virtue of these grants, the prior and convent of Guisborough possessed this parish till the Dissolution, after which Henry VIII., in 1512, presented to the church here as to a vicarage; but the church and manor were subsequently granted out by the Crown, and afterwards purchased from Mr. Bromley, of Warwickshire, by Rowland Burdon, Esq., and are now the property of Rowland Burdon, Esq., who is also lord of the manor.


The village of Castle Eden is situated two and a half miles from the sea, a little off the main road from Stockton to Sunderland, about fifteen miles north of the former, and twelve miles south of the latter place. It consists of about seventeen cottages, with flower gardens in front. Here is a school for girls and infants, with an average of 78 scholars.


The Parish Church, dedicated to St. James, is situated north of the village, and was erected, in 1764, by Rowland Burdon, Esq. It is a neat and commodious structure, capable of accommodating about 350 persons; and has been enlarged, and otherwise improved, at various periods. The spire contains a clock, and forms a pleasing object in the surrounding scenery. The font, an oval basin of marble, with a Bible by Baskerville, two folio Prayer Books, a silver chalice and paten, were all the gifts of the patrons. In the churchyard is a sculptured effigy of an ecclesiastic, but now much worn, which is supposed to represent one of the Setons. The living, formerly a curacy, but now a rectory, is in the patronage of Rowland Burdon, Esq. The Rector is Rev. Frederick G. J. Robinson, M.A.


The Castle, the seat and property of Major Rowland Burdon, J.P., is a noble mansion, pleasantly situated in a spacious park to the north-east of the church. Its exterior is plain, but the dimensions and arrangement of the interior are chaste and elegant, while the surrounding plantations and pleasure-grounds are extensive, and include a magnificent conservatory.


The Dene.  Great improvements have been effected here of late years, and Castle Eden Dene has been rendered one of the most romantic spots in the north of England. A recent writer, speaking of the dene, says,


" A winding and safe road, throughout the whole extent of the defile, serves admirably the purpose of displaying its endless beauties to the many hundred visitors who, during the summer, are admitted by the liberal proprietor to the enjoyments of this magnificent region, containing some of the finest scenery in the County of Durham. Seen from the upper part of the dene, not far from where a stream of water springs from the crevice of a rock, and, forming a natural cascade, falls into the Gunner's Pool, the road can be traced to a considerable distance through the valley below. Snake-like, and in broad coils, it rushes down the deep/sides towards the bottom of the dell, which is too much steeped in gloom to reveal its own secrets. Here and there the road is seen for a moment to right itself upon a level in the shape of a platform, or to wind round a steep bank covered with brushwood; but it soon again takes a downward course, and proceeds to its destination, caves gloomy and unfathomable ; masses of rock, detached and rolled down precipices among which a stream of water frets and murmurs—and trees of every species that place themselves in the soil of Great Britain." 


A tubular bridge has been placed across Gunner's Pool, rustic bridges erected, the grounds laid out, and many improvements effected by the owner, Mr. Burdon.


Castle Eden Colliery in this township is the property of the Castle Eden Coal Company, Limited, and was sunk in 1840. The following seams have been proved here in descending order: Five Quarter, 4 feet; Main Coal, 4 feet 3 inches; Low Main, 3 feet 6 inches; Hutton, 3 feet 2 inches; and the Harvey, at a depth of 194 fathoms, 1 foot 8 inches. At present the Five Quarter, Main Coal, and Low Main Seams are being worked, the latter most extensively; and the average output is above 1000 tons per day, the greater portion of which is shipped at the Hartlepools as best household coal, the small coals being converted into coke. This colliery affords employment to men and boys, all of whom reside in the village of Castle Eden Colliery.


Foundry is the name of a village in this parish, about three-quarters of a mile south­west of Castle Eden, and derives its name from the Engine Works (Messrs. Richardson's) which were first started here, but afterwards removed to Hartlepool.


The National School (boys) is chiefly supported by Rowland Burdon, Esq., and has accommodation for 100, with an average attendance of 70.


Castle Eden Police Station and Court House adjoins the school, in which the Petty Sessions for the South Division of Easington ward are held fortnightly on Saturdays. The police force consists of one superintendent, four sergeants, and twenty constables. In this village is a cattle auction mart, at which sales are held once a fortnight, on Mondays, from December until June. Castle Eden railway station is on the Hartlepool and Ferryhill branch of the North-Eastern Railway.


Factory is a group of houses about half-a-mile west of Castle Eden, and is so called from an extensive cotton mill which was formerly in operation here. Close by is the extensive brewery of Messrs. Nimmo & Sons. About half-a-mile distant is Wellfield Station, a junction on the Sunderland and Hartlepool branch of the North-Eastern Railway.


Rowland Burdon, a man of conspicuous ability, was born at Castle Eden in 1757. He was remarkable alike for his inventive powers, public spirit, and practical benevolence. He designed and built the high-level bridge which crosses the Wear at Sunderland, and amongst other works of public utility, caused the high road from Thirsk to Newcastle to be constructed. He represented the county of Durham in Parliament from 1790 to 1806. Whilst possessing great force and firmness of character, he was no less remarkable for his self-denying disposition and works of unpretending benevolence. On his retirement from Parliamentary life, he devoted his energies to the service and welfare of his poorer neighbours, and ended a life of usefulness, September 17, 1838.