Keys to the Past

Local History

Burnopfield (County Durham)

Until the 19th century Burnopfield was part of the larger parish of Tanfield. Like many Durham villages it expanded in size with the growth of the coal industry - this population growth led to it becoming a separate parish.

Before the building of the large collieries in the mid-19th century Burnopfield was a quite rural area. Though are no prehistoric or Roman remains from the village or the surrounding area, though there was undoubtedly early settlement here. The village is probably of Anglo-Saxon origin- the name 'Burnopfield' comes from the Old English meaning 'open land by the valley stream'. The originally village was quite small, stretching from Busty Bank and Sheephill to Bryan's Leap. The turnpike road from Lobley Hill was the only road running through the area. Another small village existed at Lintz, but it was deserted in the 16th or 17th century and no remains of the early buildings can be seen now.

In the medieval period there was no church here, but there was a small chapel though this has now been demolished. However, another medieval chapel survives on the site of a leper hospital.


In the 17th century narrow gauge wagon-ways were laid from the pitheads and Burnopefield was found to be the ideal place for these to pass through. As the area became a focal point people began to move there.

The oldest house in the village is Burnopfield Hall, built in 1720 by the Newton family, a wealthy coal owning family. In 1775 the first Methodist Chapel was built, later rebuilt in 1880 and then in 1870 a second Methodist chapel and in 1873 an Anglican church were also built.

Reference number:D6754

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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.