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

This parish was anciently dependent on Merrington, but for many years it has enjoyed all the privileges of a distinct parish, the date of its separation not being accurately known. It comprises the township of Old Park, and that part of Whitworth township not within the parish of Spennymoor. The parish of Spennymoor was formed out of this parish and nearly the whole of the town is in Whitworth township. The boundaries of the parish are, on the north by Willington parish and part of Tudhoe, as well as the Wear; on the east by Tudhoe and Spennymoor; on the south and south-east by Merrington and Coundon; and on the west by Byers Green.

Old Park Township or manor adjoins Whitworth on the south-west, and comprises an area of 414 acres. The number of inhabitants in 1801, 20; in 1811, 14; in 1821, 30; in 1831, 67; in 1841, 30; in 1851, 26; in 1861, 23; in 1871, 18; in 1881, 910; and in 1891, 902. The rateable value of this township was in 1893, fifteen thousand one hundred and fifty pounds.

At the time of Bishop Pudsey, the tenant of Park, or Old park, as it appears, even at this early period, to have been called, was one Richard. His successor was the Geoffrey who seems to have been intimately connected with Byers green adjoining. A deed of the time of Pudsey’s successor, Philip of Poitiers, dealt with land very near to Bires, if not actually including a portion of it. The deed recites that the Bishop had granted to Thomas of Acley (Aycliffe in all probability) and to his heirs the vill of Whitworth, which he and his predecessors had held by drengage service, “from near the ditch which encloses our park towards Whitworth, as far as Yldreburn, and to the place where Yldreburn falls into the Wear,” and it goes on to state that Thomas de Acley had resigned to the bishop “land and wood which extended from the ditch of Old park to the Fish-pond in the direction of Auckland,” and had also paid the Bishop a hundred and twenty marks, a very large sum in those days. In consideration of all this, Thomas de Ackley was no longer to be said to hold his land by “drengage” service, but by “free” service.

Bishop Philip’s successors granted the Park to Galfred de Park, and it was afterwards held by the Kellawes, and at the same time of Hatfield’s survey we find it held by Thomas Claxton, in whose family it remained till the time of the Northern Rebellion, when it was confiscated, and granted by the crown to George Frevill, of Hardwick. (Claxton’s life was spared, but his lands, &c., were confiscated for his having taken part in the rising of the North. A poem descriptive of his losses and sufferings, called “Claxton’s Lament,” was for a very long time exceedingly popular.) It afterwards became the property of the Whartons, and later was possessed by their representatives. It is now the property of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, Messrs. Bolkow, Vaughan, & Co., being large leaseholders.

The coal royalties of this manor are worked by the above company at their Binchester and Westerton Pits, which lie within the township of Westerton.., though the workmen’s cottages are in this township, and called Binchester Blocks.

Binchester Blocks is a colliery village situated about half a mile south of Byers Green Station, and the same distance north from the main road between Bishop Auckland and Spennymoor. Here there is a chapel-of-ease to Whitworth, an iron structure, well fitted internally with seats for 200.

The Primitive Methodists have a neat stone chapel, built in 1886, at a cost of seven hundred and eighty pounds, raised by voluntary subscriptions. The site is held from the commissioners for the nominal rent of one shilling a year. The internal fittings are of pitch pine, and it provides sittings for 350.

The School, a good stone structure, was built by the colliery owners in 1877. It is for mixed and infants, having accommodation in all for 350, and an average attendance of 230.

Old Park House or Hall occupies a beautiful and retired situation, about a mile above the Wear, and not far from Byers Green Station. It is an interesting old hall, with many architectural features, and has at some time been the residence of some family of note. It is a spacious and well-built house, at present occupied as a farmhouse.

Whitworth Township contains an area of 1465 acres, and its rateable value in 1891 was fourteen thousand one hundred and fifteen pounds. The population in 1801 was 122; in 1811, 115; in 1821 112; in 1831, 104; in 1841 290; in 1851 659; in 1861, 3652. This great invrease was due to the opening out of the coalfield, and the increase of the ironworks, which caused the rapid development of that potion of the township now known as Spennymoor. In 1871 the number of inhabitants had increased to 5028, and in 1891 to 6295. The3 Auckland, Spennymoor, and Ferryhill line passes through this township.

From the Boldon Book we learn that Thomas de Ackley held this manor by knight’s service; and it appears that his descendants assumed the local name, for we find John de Whitworth recorded as the proprietor in Hatfield’s survey. It was afterwards held by the Watsons and Baxters, this estate was purchased, in 1652, by Mark Shafto, Esq., and is still possessed, by his descendants. It is now held by the widow of Robert Duncombe Shafto, Esq., Mrs. Rosa Duncombe Shafto, who exercises the manorial rights.

There is a small colliery in this township, where the Low Main seam is worked at a depth of 25 fathoms, having a thickness of 2 feet 9 inches. This is called Whitworth Colliery, and is only working the one seam, Thomas M. Reay being the proprietor. There are about 150 men employed, and the output is 250 tons per day. The old Whitworth Park Colliery opened in 1841, was exhausted in 1882.

There is also a small colliery at Bishop’s Close, worked by the Weardale Iron Co.

The village of Whitworth or Newton, as it is now called, is pleasantly situated about three quarters of a mile south and above the River Wear, four and a half miles east-north-east of Bishop Auckland.

Old Park Terrace is another small village in this township near the railway line, east-north-east of Bishop Auckland.

The Church.- It is remarkable that the foundations of this church, as well as its dedication, are points upon which no information can be found. That it is of ancient foundation there is no doubt, and that by the early lords of Whitworth. It is a small but well proportioned structure, in the Early English style, consisting of nave and chancel, south porch, and organ chamber and vestry on the north of the chancel. All the windows are of the lancet order. The chancel is richly ornamented, the reredos of oak in the perpendicular style, being gilded, and the floor in marble mosaic. The chancel stalls with carved ends, the seats in the nave, and the dado, are all in oak, and add much to the general effect. In 1803 the church was rebuilt, and again in 1850. In 1886 a new organ was put in; in 1889-90 the chancel and the nave were reseated; and in 1892 further improvements were made in the chancel. In the churchyard are two effigies, the more interesting being that of a knight in armour, with shield covering the breast, and naked sword in the right hand, and passing beneath the shield, the helmet is cylindrical, and of peculiar design. The feet of the knight rest upon the figure of what appears to be a female child, and by his side, near his feet, is a sleeping pet dog. This effigy seems from the bearings on the shield, to represent the “Humes of Brancepeth.” The female figure is about the same length as the knight, but is in a much decayed state, the face having entirely disappeared. The head rests upon a cushion; at the feet is an animal, probably a dog, and the hands are joined in the attitude of prayer. This evidently is of a date near the middle of the fourteenth century. There are several mural monuments in the church, one of which is interesting, as being to the memory of Mark Shafto, the founder of that family here. The register dates from 1569, and the living, valued at two hundred and seventy pounds, is in the gift of the Dean and chapter, and in the incumbenmcy of the Reverend Abercrombie Wilkinson, M.A.

The Parsonage, erected in 1847, occupies a pleasant site, overlooking the vale of the Wear, about a quarter of a mile from the church.

Whitworth Park, the residence of Mrs. Rosa Duncombe Shafto, is a neat modern mansion, commanding a fine view over the vale of the Wear. It was destroyed by fire in 1876, and rebuilt in 1891, by Mrs. Shafto.

Whitworth House was erected in 1861, and enlarged in 1873. It is a good stone residence on the Whitworth Road, one mile west of Spennymoor, and at present occupied by Henry William Hollis, J. P. Esq.

Letters arrive through Spennymoor

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