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Bishop Auckland, Durham

Historical Description

Bishop-Auckland, a market town, a township, and a chapelry in Durham. The town stands on an eminence about 140 feet high, between the rivers Wear and Gaunless, near their point of confluence, and adjacent to the Weardale railway, 10¾ miles NNW of Darlington. It took its name from the vicinity of the Bishop of Durham's palace, conjoined with ancient abundance of oak woods, and was formerly a borough by prescription. It has pleasant environs, is well built and neat, and has a head post, money order, and telegraph office, a station on the N.E.R., three banks, a spacious town-hall, three churches, a grammar school, two other endowed schools, an orphanage, a workhouse, almshouses, a fever hospital, a theatre, temperance hall, masonic hall, and a mechanics' institute, also the Light-foot Institute, erected by Bishop Lightfoot. It is a seat of petty sessions, and publishes one weekly newspaper. The town-hall stands in the centre of the town, adjoining the church. It was built in 1862 at a cost of about £8500; has a groined principal entrance, surmounted by a neat stone balcony; is crowned by angle-roofs with iron pallisading, and with a spire 100 feet high, and contains a large hall, and offices for the Board of Health. The Church of St Anne is modern, and is attached to the vicarage of Auckland-St-Andrew. The Church of St Peter, built in 1875 at a cost of £7000, is a fine stone building in the Gothic style. The living is a vicarage; net value, £265, alternately in the gift of the Bishop of Durham and the Crown. There are Baptist, Roman Catholic, Congregational, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Wesleyan chapels, and a Friends' meeting-house. The grammar school was founded by James I., and has £45 from endowment; and one of the other endowed schools was founded by Bishop Barrington in 1810, and provides free education and part clothes for thirty boys. The Episcopal palace stands on the NE side of the town, in a fine park of 800 acres, on the river Gaunless, with charming views. It was built by Bishop Cosins on the site of a previous one by Bishop Beck; underwent restoration and extension, with fine entrance Gothic gateway and screen, by Bishop Barrington, after designs by Wyatt, and contains several valuable old paintings by the Italian masters. In ancient times the prelates had castles at Durham, Stockton, Craike, and Norham. Of all these stately palaces Auckland is the only remaining residence. Attached to the castle is the Bishop's Chapel, the whole of the floor of which is of chequered marble. It is divided into a nave and side aisles by two ranges of clustered marble pillars 16 feet high, also contains a vault containing the remains of various bishops—the last being Bishop Lightfoot. Newton-Cap Bridge, in the vicinity, over the river Wear, was built in 1390, and has two arches, the one circular and 101 feet in span, the other pointed and 91 feet in span. A weekly market is held in the town on Thursday, and fairs in March, and on the Thursday before 11 October; also statute or hiring fairs for servants in May and November. Area of the urban sanitary district, 692 acres; population, 10,527. Area of Bishop-Auckland and Pollards Lands, 2587 acres; population, 11,765. Coal and iron are worked extensively, and afford employment to a large number of the inhabitants.

Bishop-Auckland Parliamentary Division of Durham was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 61,833. The division includes the following:- Darlington Ward-(Bishop-Auckland Division, part of)— Auckland (Bishop), Auckland (St Andrew), Binchester, Byers Green, Chilton, Coundon, Coundon Grange, Eldon, Escomb, Helmington Row, Hunwick and Helmington, Merrington, Middlestone, Middridge, Middridge Grange, Newfield, Newton Cap, Old Park, Pollards Lands, Shildon, Thickley (East), Westerton, Whitworte, Windlestone.

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 CountyCounty Durham 
Poor Law unionAuckland 

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

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Bishop Auckland from the following:

Land and Property

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


Online maps of Bishop Auckland are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers covering county Durham online:

CountyCounty Durham
RegionNorth East
Postal districtDL14
Post TownBishop Auckland