Records > Whellan & Co 1894 Directory : Merrington
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Merrington Parish - 1894

This parish formerly included the townships of Merrington, Ferryhill, hett, and Chilton; but not on the formation of the parochial chapelry of Ferryhill, Chilton was included in its district, and Hett was constituted part of the chapelry district of Croxdale. Under the provisions of the Act 9 Geo. IV., for the better division of counties, the townships of Merrington and Chilton were transferred from the south-east to the north-west division of Darlington Ward, and Ferryhill and Hett were incorporated with Durham Ward. In April 1845 the township of Middlestone was transferred from the parish of St. Andrew’s Auckland to that of Merrington. The parish is at present bounded on the north and north-west by the township of Tudhoe, in the parish of that name, and the chapelry of Whitworth; on the west by the township of Westerton, in the chapelry of Coundon; on the south by the township of Windlestone, in the same chapelry; on the east by the townships of Chilton and Ferryhill. The parish is intersected by a high ridge of hills ranging east to west.

Merrington Township contains an area of 1961 acres, and the value of the property fixed for the county rate in 1853, was five thousand seven hundred and sixty five pounds. The number of inhabitants in 1801 was 228; in 1811, 242; in 1821, 290; in 1831, 339; in 1841, 431; in 1851, 504; in 1861, 913; in 1871, 1313; in 1881, 1663; and in 1891 was 2128 souls. A portion of the Ferryhill and Bishop Auckland line is in this township. The manor of Merrington was given by Bishop Carileph to the church of Durham; and the present landowners are the Dean and Chapter, who are also lords of the manor, and Sir W. Eden. A small colliery, called the Rock colliery, is worked by Messrs. R. Oliver and R. A. Brown, and is the only one at present being worked in this township. Merrington Lane, and a portion of Low Spennymoor, is in this township.

The village of Merrington situated on the ridge of a lofty eminence, which commands a view of one of the most beautiful and extensive landscapes in the county, comprising the village of Westerton, the vale of the Wear, with its elegant scenery near Bishop Auckland and Witton; the castle of Brancepeth, Cockfield Fell, Ushaw College, the City of Durham, and a great part of Cleveland.. Before the battle of Neville’s Cross the English forces were encamped here. The Weardale Water Co. Provide a supply of water, which was previously much needed.

Merrington Lane is a village on the northern boundary of this township, near the Ferryhill and Spennymoor railway line. Here is an old established iron foundry.

The Church is dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, and stands upon the site of a former very ancient one. The present church, which was entirely rebuilt in 1851, is a copy of the former one, in the Norman style, consisting of nave, long low-roofed chancel, north transept, and massive square tower, at the intersection of the transept, 72 feet high. The nave contains three beautiful arches or bays, with zigzag mouldings; two being under the tower. The chancel arch is particularly fine, and that of the transept is of the same design as those in the nave. The entrance porch contains a deeply moulded doorway in keeping with the style of the church. The chancel screen is of richly carved oak of the time of Charles I., as are also the choir pews. The cost of rebuilding was about one thousand four hundred pounds, which was defrayed by the Dean and Chapter. When Cumin usurped the see of Durham, the massive character of this church caused his nephew to seize it, fill it with armed men, and begin to fortify it with a ditch and vallum. He, however, was dislodged by three barons of the bishopric, Robert de Coisners (Conyers) Bertram de Bulmer, and Ganfred Escolland, who collected what strength they could “to stay this sacrilege, and profanation of God’s altar.” Amongst many old tombstones is one to the memory of three children of John Brass, who were murdered by his servant Andrew Mills. He was executed and afterwards hung in chains, A.D. 1683. Another flat stone has carved upon it a cross the full length, with a spear or sword on one side and a spade on the other. This is regarded as the tombstone of the famous Hodge of Fery, who slew the immense boar or brawn of Brancepeth; the scene of this event also marked by a stone at a farm not far from here. The parish register commences in 1587. The living is a vicarage in deanery of Auckland, and is a peculiar belonging to the Dean and Chapter, valued in the Liber Regis at fourteen pounds four shillings and nine pence. In 1846 it was endowed with the tithes of Merrington, amounting to eighty eight pounds eighteen shillings, and the present value is about four hundred pounds, including 15 acres of Glebe. Reverend Richard Coulton, vicar. The vicarage, built about 1879, is a good brick house, situated to the east of the church and commands a fine view.

The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel is a stone building with porch, built in 1861, at a cost, inclusive of site, of two hundred pounds; it will seat 200. The cost was raised by voluntary subscription.

The National School was erected in 1869, and is a good stone building, with accommodation for 180, and an average attendance of 100, in both mixed and infants’ departments.

Charities.- It is not recorded how the farm called “Poor’s Land” was acquired by this parish. It consisted of between 18 and 20 acres, held by lease under the Dean and Chapter of Durham, at 11s. Per annum, with a fine for renewal, and was let at sixteen pounds a year. Some years ago this land was sold, and the money invested in Consols, which at 2 3/4 % realises twelve pounds sixteen shillings and eight pence. This is divided between the parishes of Merrington and Ferryhill. This parish receives about five pounds, which is distributed by the vicar and churchwardens.- In 1728 Ann Morgan left twenty pounds, and the Reverend Mr. Simons, in 1739, gave three pounds fifteen shillings to the poor of Merrington township, which sums were laid out in leasehold tenements at Ferryhill. These having fallen into decay, the ground was taken as a site for the Town Hall at Ferryhill. John Smith, of Holsten House, near Stockton, who died August 3, 1832, left two hundred pounds to the minister and churchwardens of Merrington, upon trust, to invest the same in the public funds, or other good security, and to pay the proceeds thereof on New Year’s Day in every year to ten poor widows residing in the parish. This sum, less 10% legal duty, was invested in the funds in 1833, and the dividends are applied in accordance with the expressed wishes of the donor. The income from this charity amounts to Five pounds twelve shillings and four pence, of which this parish receives only a small proportion.- John Stokes, who died in 1852, left the residue of his estate, amounting to two hundred and forty pounds six shillings, to be invested, the interest to be divided between Merrington and Ferryhill. Merrington receives Eight pounds eight shillings and eight pence as its share, and is distributed by the vicar and churchwardens.

Post and Money Order Office, - William Sedgwick, postmaster. Letters arrive here from Ferryhill at 7.40 A.M., and are despatched to Bishop Auckland at 3.30 P.M.

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