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"This parish, which anciently formed part of the parish of St. Andrew's Auckland, comprises no dependent townships. In 1862 the parish of Witton Park was formed entirely out of this parish.

"Escomb Township contains 840 acres, and its ratable value is £9310, 15s. The inhabitants are chiefly miners, employed at Messrs. H. Stobbart's collieries. The Darlington and Consett line runs through this township, having a station at Witton Park called Etherley.

"The village of Escomb is situated on the south bank of the Wear, about a mile and a half west from Bishop Auckland, and consists of a collection of poor cottages. Etherley Lane is a straggling run of houses in this township, adjoining Etherley village. Woodside is a village adjoining Witton Park, about a mile from Escomb."

[From History, Topography and Directory of Durham, Whellan , London, 1894]


"The population in 1801 was 162; in 1811, 190; in 1821, 232; in 1831, 282; in 1841, 510; in 1851, 1293; in 1861, 3755; in 1871, 4313; in 1881, 3982; and in 1891, 3401, including Witton Park."

[From History, Topography and Directory of Durham, Whellan , London, 1894]

The 1851 Census Index (booklet 114) published by the Cleveland Family History Society may be of value to researchers interested in this parish.

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Church History

"The Ancient Church- The ancient parish church of Escomb is an edifice of the greatest interest. It is situated in the very middle of the old village, surrounded by its burying-ground, by open spaces next to that, and then by houses on all sides. It is of great antiquity, having been built, as far as can be judged by its style and other circumstances, not later than the seventh century. Moreover it is perfect, that is to say, the early walls are there from foundation to wall plate; all the original windows are there, very small and loftily plaved; the original chancel arch is there, the original north door is there, untampered with, and one side of the original south door is also there. It can hardly be called a Saxon building, for it is of earlier type than Saxon. Its analogues must be looked for in Ireland, amongst the extremely early remains of Christian architecture there, and not in England. It is pyramidal in form, the whole church and the several pasts of it. Thus the east wall of the church outside is narrower at the top than at the bottom, as is also the west wall; the chancel arch, which is a very fine feature of the church, narrows as it ascends. In the latter part of the twelfth, or early part of the thirteenth century several "improvements" were effected.

"When the new church was built, some thirty years ago, this most interesting and precious relic of the earliest Christian ages was suffered to go to ruin. In that state it was seen by the Rev. Dr. Hooppell, who immediately detected its true character. A paper he wrote upon it for the British Archaeological Association, then holdings its Annual Congress at Yarmouth, attracted great attention. The vicar, the Rev. T. E. Lord, towhom the greatest praise is due, took the matter up nost heartily. A subscription list was opened, a thorough repair of the sacred edifice was commenced and carried out most excellently by the viar and the late R. J. Johnson, Diocesan Surveyor and Architect. The church was reopened by the late Bishop Lightfoot, in the year 1880, and it has since continued to be used, conjointly with the new church, for divine service and other occasions.

"The Parish Church is a neat stone edifice, inthe Early English style, dedicated to St. John, and is situated on the hill west of the village. It consists of nave and chancel; and the seats, which provide for 250 people, are plain and good. The living is a vicarage, valued at £300, in the gift of the Bishop of Durham, and in the incumbency of the Rev. Thomas Ebenezer Lord."

[From History, Topography and Directory of Durham, Whellan , London, 1894]

There is a picture (28 kbytes) of the Saxon church at Escomb; supplied by Richard Hird.

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Church Records

"The register, which is in a remarkable state of preservation, dates from the year 1545." [From History, Topography and Directory of Durham, Whellan , London, 1894]

The Parish Registers for the period 1543-1968 are deposited at Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham, DH1 5UL (EP/Es).

Marriage indexes for 1543-1837 (13 kbytes) from the George Bell Collection of Durham and Northumberland Indexes.

The Marriages (1543-1837) are included in the Joiner Marriage Index.

The following records for churches in the ancient parish of Escomb are also available at Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham, DH1 5UL:-

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