Bellingham (St. Cuthbert)

BELLINGHAM (St. Cuthbert), a parish, and the head of a union, in the N. W. division of Tindale ward, S. division of Northumberland; comprising the townships of Charlton East and West Quarters, Leemailing, The Nook, and Tarretburn Quarter; and containing 1730 inhabitants, of whom 672 are in the market-town of Bellingham, 30 miles (W. N. W.) from Newcastle, and 298 (N. N. W.) from London. This place, from the remains of several camps apparently of Roman origin, is supposed to have been occupied by that people; but little of its early history is recorded. The Lords de Bellingham are said to have had a castle, or baronial seat, here, erected on an eminence still called Hall Field, and of which there are some slight remains. In the reigns of Richard II. and Henry IV. the manor and castle were in the possession of Richard de Bellingham; the estate afterwards became the property of the Earl of Derwentwater, upon whose attainder it was given to the governors of Greenwich Hospital. The town is pleasantly situated on the northern bank of the North Tyne, between that river and a stream called Hareshaw burn, over which, near the eastern extremity of the town, a good stone bridge was erected in 1826. The rocks on each side of the burn rise precipitously to the height of 100 feet, and the water at Hareshaw-linn has a perpendicular fall of thirty feet. The smelting of iron-ore has been recently introduced by the Hareshaw Company, who have erected furnaces for the purpose, and the works already afford employment to 250 persons: many are also employed in the iron and coal mines, which are extensively worked; and sandstone of good quality for building is quarried. Fairs for cattle are held on the first Saturday after the 15th of September, and on the 12th of November. The powers of the county debt-court of Bellingham, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Bellingham.

This was formerly part of the extensive parish of Simonburn, which was divided into six distinct parishes by act of parliament in 1811; it comprises by measurement 20,124 acres, of which from 7000 to 8000 are moorland, abounding with grouse and other game. The living is a rectory not in charge, in the patronage of the Governors of Greenwich Hospital: the tithes have been commuted for £203, and there is a rectory-house, with gardens attached. The church is of great antiquity, and the only one in the district which has survived the Reformation. It is possible that the churches of the Northumbrian border were occasionally, like those of Cumberland, used as places of retreat in cases of sudden attack from the marauding Scotch; and the thickness of the walls, the heavy stone arched roof, and narrow slits for windows, induce a belief that the church here was constructed with this object. The building consists of a chancel and nave, a chantry chapel on the south side, and a small bell-tower; the roof is finely groined, and the chancel contains many mural tablets and monuments. The churchyard, occupying an elevated situation, forms a beautiful terrace overlooking the river. There is a place of worship for Seceders from the Scottish Church; also a Roman Catholic chapel. The poor law union of Bellingham comprises thirty-seven parishes and places, and contains a population of 7462.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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