Ebchester

EBCHESTER, a chapelry, in the parish and union of Lanchester, W. division of Chester ward, N. division of the county of Durham, 12 miles (W. S. W.) from Gateshead; containing 331 inhabitants. Upon the banks of the Derwent at this place, St. Ebba, daughter of Ethelfrid, King of Northumbria, before the year 660, founded a monastery, which was subsequently destroyed by the Danes, when the royal foundress became abbess of Coldingham; and 500 years afterwards Ebchester is described as "the place of anchorets." The chapel and a few cottages occupy the site of a considerable Roman station, 200 yards square, with extensive works, supposed to be the Vindomora of Antoninus, and to have been partly constructed by the Legio Sexta Victrix, and of which traces are still discernible. Sepulchral and other monuments found upon the spot have been built up in the walls of the houses, and some are deposited in the library at Durham, with an urn of uncommon size and shape, having a small cup in the centre, as a lachrymatory or patera. The Roman Watling-street from Lanchester leads through the chapelry, where Gale places Ptolemy's Epiacum. David II., King of Scotland, in his unfortunate invasion, is said to have entered the county by this road, which may still be traced where it crossed the Derwent, by a ford near the present foot-bridge. The chapelry comprises 961a. 1r., of which 628 acres are arable, 300 pasture, and 24 woodland: the Derwent separates it from Northumberland on the north-west; on every other point it is bordered by the chapelry of Medomsley, whence the grounds fall gradually towards the north. A coal-mine is in operation, as is also a stone-quarry for building purposes. The village, which is on the road from Newcastle to Shotley-Bridge, stands at the foot of a long descent, yet on the edge of a still deeper declivity, on the south side of the Derwent; its cottages overlooking the green haugh-lands of the river. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Master of Sherburn Hospital, with a net income of £145. The chapel is a small ancient structure, dedicated to St. Ebba, and contains inscriptions to various members of the family of Surtees. There is a place of worship for Wesleyans.

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

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