Tourist Information in Sedgefield
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Sedgefield Town Information

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Sedgefield, an ancient village founded in Norman times, possessed a market charter granted in AD 1312. In the early 19th century it was a very important coach centre with the "Expedition" running daily to Leeds.

From 1828 the town flourished by manufacturing agricultural requirements, like saddlery and straw hats. Flour milling and shoemaking were also carried on.

The medieval Church is a well known landmark with its tall tower. A woodworker named Robert Barker did much to enhance the interior with woodwork done in a classical style and magnificently executed.

The former Rectory is an interesting 18th century building and has been converted by the local Community Association for community use and is renamed Ceddesfield Hall.

One of the main attractions in the village is the racecourse used for National Hunt racing and is the only one in County Durham.

The converted hotel at Hardwick Hall, which was originally built by J. Bardon in 1748, has on its doorstep the beautiful Hardwick Country Park which helps to serve the Borough's needs for countryside leisure activities. Good shops, clubs, sports facilities and the "village green" help to make Sedgefield a very attractive place.

Other places within the Borough include:

Bishops Middleham once belonged to the Bishops of Durham during the Middle Ages, and today its inhabitants are involved in quarrying and agriculture. It is an attractive village with the interesting 13th century Church of St. Michael. It is also the burial place of County Historian, Robert Surtees of Mainsforth Hall.

Bradbury is a small agricultural village which lies to the west of Sedgefield. It is interesting to note that the marshy land near the village is of glacial origin.

Butterwick, once a medieval village, is a dairy farming area, lying south east of the River Skerne.

Chilton has a medieval history dating from before 1388. The later main development was based on the Chilton and Mainsforth Collieries which are now closed. Although mining has declined, Chilton is still a busy village with a new Industrial Estate.

Cornforth is situated north east of Ferryhill and the main source of employment was the former Thrislington Colliery. During the 19th century the main industries were paper mills, brick works and agriculture. Now, limestone quarries provide the main source of wealth.

Ferryhill, an industrial town of some 11,600 inhabitants, is greatly influenced by its situation between the old Great North Road and the main north-south railway line. Road improvements carried out n 1920 did much to increase the importance of the town. Ferryhill was a thriving village in medieval times and also had close connections with the Monastery at Durham. Some coal mining was carried out from the 12th century up to the 19th century and from then on other major undertakings were carried out. An old grey stone in the wall near the site of Cleves Cross Farm is said to commemorate the slaying of the last wild boar of Brancepeth by Sir Roger de Ferie. Ferryhill in ancient times was known as Ferry, the second part of the name referring to the mile long hill (400 feet above sea level) where can be found the Town Hall, Market Place, many shops and some small hotels and inns.

Fishburn, up until the first World War, was an agricultural village but the opening of the colliery in 1913 led to a transformation in the character of the village. This change was further reinforced by the establishment of the Cokeworks in 1954. Both are now closed and modern housing estates surround the old village.

Mainforth Village lies between Bishop Middleham and Chilton, where Chilton Colliery was formerly the main place of employment. The name derives from Main Fort which suggests either Roman or Danish occupation.

Mordon is a small village and in medieval times was part of the See of Durham. The rich farming land stands at a high altitude and is also situated near marsh and moor.

Trimdon has some 5,000 inhabitants who live in Old Trimdon, Trimdon Grange and Trimdon Colliery. Old Trimdon is a place of considerable antiquity because there is evidence of Bronze Age discoveries. In 1020 it was visited by King Canute and in 1146 the Church was given to Guisborough Priory. The parish was purchased by the Roper family during the reign of Henry VIII after the Dissolution. The wide street crosses Garmondsway Common and contains 18th and 19th century houses. The opening of Trimdon Colliery brought prosperity to the village in the 19th century but this is now closed and the area reclaimed.

Windlestone and Rushyford  is situated on the old Great North Road and has the attractive and much patronised Eden Arms Hotel which has served travellers over many centuries. Windlestone Parish includes the hall and the park, which were in the hands of the Eden family from the time of Queen Elizabeth I. In 1920 the hall became the Wayfarers Benevolent Association Headquarters and has been used as a POW camp and a refuge centre, and is now a residential school used by Durham County Council.

Newton Aycliffe - The name "Newton Aycliffe" was derived from the oak trees which grew in forests in early times (Acle and Yackley were the old names). Newton Aycliffe was the first New Town in the North of England. It was designated on 19th April 1947 on a site of 865 acres, with a target population of 10,000. The town's prime purpose was to provide housing and amenities for the works on the industrial estate being developed on the site of the former Aycliffe Royal Ordnance Factory. The Target population for the town has been amended on several occasions. Its current population is around 28,500.
Aycliffe Village

This is one of the most beautiful villages within the Sedgefield Borough.

It has a population of under 1,000 and a well kept and attractive village green that is surrounded by interesting old houses.

It is from this village that the New Town takes its name.

Aycliffe Village Green - photo Sedgefield Borough Council

Spennymoor - The name 'Spennymoor' was derived from two words, the Latin - Spina (Thorn) and the Saxon - Mor (Moorland), which provided free grazing.

An important Roman Military settlement called Vinovium (Binchester) built midway between Piercebridge and Corbridge, formed the first community in the Borough.

During the Middle Ages the Spennymoor area was the property of the Earls of Northumberland and later possessed by the Nevilles who, in 1569, forfeited their land to the Crown because of the failure of the Rising of the North. By 1862 the Borough had become the property of the Church and was controlled by Bishop Van Mildert of Durham. The moor was the common centre which linked Kirk Merrington, Whitworth, Old Park, Binchester, Byers Green and Tudhoe, and provided free grazing for all cattle in the Borough.

Spennymoor suffered under Norman Rule when the Conqueror laid waste the whole of the North of England. Wild animals roamed about the moor and outlaws terrorised the inhabitants. In the 13th century, Merrington Priory acquired all the grazing rights from the surrounding villages. the Charter of 1279 mentions Tudhoe and Spennymoor. At this time, the Scots were constantly attacking and robbing the inhabitants. In 1346, Merrington Church and Village, and Croxdale, were closely associated with the Battle of Neville's Cross. 1616 marked the commencement of coal mining and this was the beginning of a new outlook and later prosperity in Spennymoor. During the 1800's, Spennymoor continued to prosper. New collieries opened at Whitworth and an Iron Foundry at Tudhoe. Housing was speedily improved but 1879 saw the end of industrial progress and a terrible colliery disaster at Tudhoe added to the problems.

Of course, the town is now thoroughly up-to-date as this photograph of the Leisure Centre shows.
Leisure Centre

Shildon - The first railway town, is a friendly place, steeped in railway history, and can claim to have sent forth the first passenger train to be hauled by a steam engine. The earliest community probably existed in Roman times but there is also definite evidence of people living in Shildon in the 10th century. In Anglo Saxon times, there was mention of Shildon in the years AD821 and 990 when it was associated with South Church, Bishop Auckland. Shildon remained under the protection of the Church from 1085 until the dissolution in 1547. In 1862, Shildon commenced to build wagons when the new engine works at Darlington were opened. Shildon's connections with the railway continued until 1984 when the Wagon Works were closed. Timothy Hackworth's cottages and the renovated Soho Engine Sheds are now museums and open to the public.