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Lanchester (All Saints)

LANCHESTER (All Saints), a parish, and the head of a union, chiefly in the W. division of Chester ward, N. division, but partly in the N. W. division, of Darlington ward, S. division of the county of Durham; comprising the townships of Benfieldside, Billingside, Burnop with Hamsteels, Butsfield, Collierly, Conside with Knitsley, Cornsay, Ebchester, Esh, Greencroft, Healyfield, Holmside, Ivestone, Kyo, Lanchester, Langley, Medomsley, and Satley; and containing 7783 inhabitants, of whom 579 are in the township of Lanchester, 8 miles (N. W. by W.) from Durham. This place, which occupies the site of a principal Roman station, is supposed by Camden, Gale, and Hunter, to have been Longovicum, and by Horsley, Glambanta or Glanoventa; more modern writers regard it as Epiacum. The period of its origin is uncertain, but its restoration is ascribed to the Emperor Gordian; it stood on the line of the Watling-street, and was successively garrisoned by a portion of the twentieth legion, the Varduli, and the Ligones. The station occupied an eminence half a mile eastward from the village: the rampart, inclosing a cultivated area of eight acres, is in most parts quite perfect; and numerous coins, altars, monuments, and other relics, especially a plate of solid gold with an inscription to the god Mars, have been discovered, several of which are preserved in the library at Durham.

The parish comprises by computation 41,890 acres, of which upwards of 16,000 acres of common land were divided in 1773; the chief portion is held under the see. The village, now small and straggling, was once of considerable importance; it lies in a warm sheltered vale watered by the Smalhope burn, and the road from Durham to Shotley-Bridge passes through it. Pettysessions are held once a fortnight, and a court for the recovery of debts under 40s. twice a year. The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £123; patron, the Bishop of Durham; impropriators, T. Cookson, Esq., and others. The tithes were commuted for land in 1773. The church is a venerable structure in the early English style, and consists of a nave, aisles, chancel, south porch, and tower at the west end, surmounted by an embattled parapet, with crocketed pinnacles at the angles. The chancel, the arch of which is a fine specimen of the transition from the Norman to the early English style, is 44 feet in length, by 15 in breadth, and has on the east three tall lancet windows, the centre one with a portion of stained glass: on the south side are two windows of double lights, and a third of three lights; and on the north a window of two lights. It contains five ancient stalls, an elegant piscina, several sculptured decorations, and some interesting monuments. The church was made collegiate, for a dean and seven prebendaries, by Bishop Anthony Beke, about 1283, and the college was valued at the Dissolution at £49. 3. 4.: the dean's house occupied a plot of ground surrounded by a fosse, a little northward from the church. There are separate incumbencies at Collierly, Ebchester, Esh, Medomsley, and Satley; and several places of worship for dissenters: at Brooms is a Roman Catholic chapel. The poor-law union of Lanchester comprises 18 chapelries or townships, and contains a population of 9969 persons.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.