A history of Northumberland, England

VOLUME I - The Parish of Bamburgh

Mr. Thomas Hodgkin, in the course of the year 1890, called attention to the fact that a complete History of Northumberland is still a desideratum^ and in conjunction with other gentlemen he devised a scheme whereby this want might be supplied. The projectors of the scheme received from many quarters assurances of a friendly interest in their undertaking, and a committee was formed to take practical steps towards beginning the work. The committee included the Earl Percy, the Bishop of Peterborough, Major-General Sir William Grossman, K.C.M.G., Sir John Evans, K.C.B., the Rev. John Collingwood Bruce, Mr. Watson Askew-Robertson, Mr. Cadwallader J. Bates, Mr. Robert Blair, Mr. C. B. P. Bosanquet, the Rev. William Greenwell, Mr. R. O. Heslop, Mr. Thomas Hodgkin, Mr. J. Crawford Hodgson, Mr. John George Hodgson, the Rev. James Raine, and Mr. Richard Welford. The committee since its formation has lost, by the death of Dr. Bruce, one of its most valued members, who had from the beginning accorded to the scheme the support of his influence and sympathy.

It was recognized at once that so vast an undertaking could not begin without adequate financial aid, and, as the number of subscribers increased slowly, a guarantee fund was formed to which liberal support was at once accorded. The committee received substantial aid from the Duke of Northumberland, the Duke of Portland, Lord Hastings, Sir James Joicey, Bart., Mr. Mark Archer, Mr. A. H. Browne, the executors of the late Dr. Bruce, Mr. N. G. Clayton, Mr. W. D. Cruddas, the Dean and Chapter of Durham, Mr. R. R. Dees, Mr. Edward Joicey, Mr. James Laing, Mr. J. D. Milburn, Mr. W. Milburn, Mr. H. T. Morton, Mr. Hugh Taylor, and Mr. Thomas Taylor. These contributions, in addition to various sums guaranteed by the members of the committee themselves, produced a fund which, it is hoped, may be still further increased. After these preliminaries an editor was appointed, and the work actually began in the autumn of 1891.

It was resolved that, so far as possible, the new book should follow the lines laid down by the late Rev. John Hodgson, and that those districts which he had left untouched should first be dealt with. In this way new ground would be broken, and some progress would be made towards completing that great History of Northumberland, monumental alike in its conception and execution, which Mr. Hodgson was unable to finish in his lifetime. The large mass of material, collected by Mr. Hodgson for the unfinished portions of his book, has been placed at the disposal of the committee by the historian's grandson, Mr. John George Hodgson.

The History of Northumberland, as planned and partially carried out by Mr. Hodgson, has furnished the model on which the present work endeavors to proceed. The work is a parochial history, to be supplemented at some future time if practicable by a volume in which the fruits of minute research will be summarized and tabulated. For the parochial history two units of division have been adopted, the old ecclesiastical parish and its subdivision the township.

In choosing Bamburghshire as the subject of the first volume it was felt that there could be no more appropriate beginning for the work than a volume concerned with the history of the ancient Northumbrian capital. Moreover, Bamburghshire is a district practically untouched by previous historians with one signal exception. Mr. Cadwallader Bates, in his Border Holds, has written a history of the two great fortresses of Bamburghshire, viz., Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh, and has provided a nucleus around which the history of the shire has been grouped. The history of the castle of Bamburgh has been reprinted with some additions and re-arrangement from the pages of the Archceologia-Eliaiia, by the kind permission of the Newcastle Society of Antiquaries. Limits of space have rendered it necessary to confine the present volume to the parish of Bamburgh and the chapelry of Belford.

It is now a pleasing duty to acknowledge the generous help which has been forthcoming during the progress of the work. The Duke of Northumberland, through the medium of his kind and courteous librarian, Mr. Thomas Bosworth, has rendered his valuable collection of manuscripts at Alnwick castle readily accessible. In his Grace's collection a number of transcripts from documents at the Public Record Office deserve special mention, as they form a mine of wealth for the historian of Northumberland. They include large portions of the Charter Rolls, Patent and Close Rolls, Inquisitions, Assize and Coram Rege Rolls, so far as they relate to Northumberland. Although unfortunately not yet complete these transcripts have saved much time, labour, and expense. It is to be hoped that they will be soon made even more complete than at present. Secondly, free use has been made of the manuscript surveys made by Clarkson and Mason of the Earl of Northumberland's estate shortly after the dissolution of the monasteries. The survey of Mason is especially valuable for its beautiful maps, some of which are reproduced by his Grace's leave in this volume, whilst more will be reproduced on a future occasion.


Table of Contents



Bamburghshire 1
Geology 3
Agriculture 9
Dialect 11


Bamburgh Parish 13
Geology 13
Bamburgh Castle 17

Bamburgh Castle Library 70
Cell of Austin Canons 73
Incumbents of Bamburgh 94
The Church of St. Aidan 103
Bamburgh Township 112
(a) The Leper Hospital 134
(b) The Dominican Friary 138
Spindleston, Budle, and Warenmouth 174
Outchester 198
Mousen 209
Warenton 213
Adderstone 219
Lucker 234
Hoppen 243
Warenford and Ratchwood 248
Newstead 256
Newham 269
Elford and Fleetham 284
Burton 289
Bradford 294
Shoreston and North Sunderland 306
Beadnell 319
Swinhoe 334
Tucgal 342


Belford Chapelry 357
Geology 57
Belford, Easington, and Easington Grange 362
Middleton 394
Detchant 400
Ross 404
Elwick 408
Appendix I 417
Appendix II 419
Appendix III 421
Index 423


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Bamburghshire, as an ancient subdivision of Northumberland, may be deemed, for general purposes, conterminous with Bamburgh ward. The ward includes the old ecclesiastical parishes of Bamburgh (with the chapelry of Belford), Eglingham, Ellingham, Embleton, Howick, Longhoughton, and Lesbury; in other words, the tract of land stretching from Islandshire on the north to the river Aln upon the south. The shires of Northumberland may be compared to the ridings, hundreds, or wapentakes, of the southern counties; and it is clear that this analogy was so far recognized in the Middle Ages that Bamburghshire was termed, with equal propriety, Bamburgh wapentake.