Keys to the Past

Local History

Bearpark (County Durham)

The parish of Bearpark stands close to the city of Durham. Although there was undoubtedly earlier settlement, the oldest remains to be found are some cup and ring marked stones from near White Park. These are probably of late Neolithic or early Bronze Age date. It is unusual to find such carved stones in this part of County Durham, they are usually found in areas of moorland.

There are no remains of Roman or Anglo-Saxon date from Bearpark, though there was certainly occupation nearby. However, it is unlikely that the village of Bearpark itself was of Anglo-Saxon date. The name Bearpark comes from the name of the medieval Priory of Beaurepairewhich stood here. It means 'beautiful retreat'. It was built as a summer home for the priors of Durham. The priory was repeatedly damaged by warfare, and it was eventually destroyed during the English Civil War. All that can be seen of the remains now are some ruined walls and a number of grass-covered mounds. At least three chapels stood at the priory, and the roofless remains of one of these chapels is still visible, but it is not known which of the three chapels it is. The slight remains of a fishpond nearby may also have been related to the priory.

There are a number of other medieval remains in the village. The bridge crossing the River Browney was probably built in the early 15th century, replacing an earlier bridge. In 1996 archaeologists found the remains of two pottery kilns, probably of 14th century date.

Of slightly later date is Bull Hole Byre, which has recently been shown to date to the 16th century. It was built as a farm building. The village remained primarily a farming area until the 19th century, when coal mining became increasingly important. Bearpark Colliery was founded in 1872.

Many of the inhabitants of Bearpark were involved in the war efforts during the First World War and the Second World War. Men and women from each conflict are commemorated on memorial plaques, windows, books of remembrance and items of furniture within the parish Church of St. Edmund.

Reference number:D6647
Event(s):The identification of Historic Landscapes in Durham Project; Chris Blandford Associates

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Please note that this information has been compiled from a number of different sources. Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council can accept no responsibility for any inaccuracy contained therein. If you wish to use/copy any of the images, please ensure that you read the Copyright information provided.