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Rothbury, Northumberland

Historical Description

Rothbury, a small town, a township, and a parish in Northumberland. The town stands on the river Coquet, and has a station on the North British railway, 11 miles SW of Alnwick; was anciently called Robire, Rathbury, and Routh-byrig, probably a Saxon settlement; was once surrounded by many miles of forest; is situated in a romantic hollow, almost entirely engirt with rugged hills; consists chiefly of three streets, diverging from a market-place and irregularly built; presents indications of great antiquity; and underwent much improvement, by introduction of water-supply, the reconstruction of buildings, and the erection of several fine edifices, in 1866-93. It was formerly a place of much resort for the drinking of goat's milk; is still frequented by many summer visitors for the sake of its fine climate and for sport in the neighbouring waters; is a seat of petty sessions and county courts; and has a head post office, two banks, two or more good inns, a quaint old bridge, a church, a Congregational chapel, a mechanics' institute, a Jubilee hall erected in 1887, an endowed grammar school founded in 1720, a workhouse, a county police station, a cattle auction mart every alternate Monday, and fairs on Easter-Friday, Whit-Monday, 2 Oct., and 1 Nov. The church includes the original Early English chancel, N and S transepts, nave, and tower of 1850, and a chantry of the Cartingtons rebuilt in 1887 as a vestry; contains a piscina and fenestella used as a credence table, a richly-sculptured font, and a fine peal of eight bells; and was the scene of Bernard Gilpin's assuaging a deadly feud between two Border clans in the 16th century. Whitton Tower, a fortified residence built in the 14th century by one of the Umfravilles, is now the parsonage. Bernard Rumney, author of " Ecky's Mare," was the village poet, and flourished in the reign of Charles II. Dr J. Brown, a theological writer who died in 1766, Dr Thomlinson, Dr Sharp, Dr Drummond, Dr Ainger, the Rev. A. O. Medd, and the Rev. C. G. V. Harcourt have held the living.

The township comprises 6207 acres of land and 44 of water; population, 1274; of ecclesiastical parish, 2550. The parish contains also the townships and villages of Whitton, Newtown, Tosson, Bickerton, Caistron, Fallowlees, Hollinghill, Hesley Hurst, Raw, Pauperhaugh, Mount Healey, Lee Ward, Debdon, Snitter, Thropton, Warton, Flotterton, Cartington, High and Low Trewhitt, Hepple, Hepple Demesne, and Wreighill. The manor in early times belonged to the Claverings or Fitzes, was given to the Percys in 1332, and belongs now to the Duke of Northumberland. Hepple is the seat of the Riddell family. Cartington Castle was the seat of the Cartington family. Cragside, the charming residence of Lord Armstrong (erected 1863-93), occupies an elevated site on a plateau midway up the face of a boulder-covered hill of sandstone rock, on the eastern confines of the township. A British camp with double vallum is at Old Rothbury. Several of the farmhouses are old peels, with thick walls and low narrow doors: these have all been modernized. The land, to the extent of 7 miles N, S, and E, was formerly all forest, and is now for the most part wild uncultivated moor. The rocks include coal, limestone, iron ore, and lead ore, and the surface in many places is strewn with scorise, supposed to be the workings of mediaeval miners. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Newcastle; gross value, £1245 with residence. Patron, the Duchy of Lancaster.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyNorthumberland 
Ecclesiastical parishRothbury All Saints 
Poor Law unionRothbury 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Rothbury from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Northumberland is available to browse.


Online maps of Rothbury are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers related to Northumberland online:

RegionNorth East
Postal districtNE65
Post TownMorpeth