Keys to the Past

Local History

Castle Eden (County Durham)

The small village of Castle Eden lies to the south of Peterlee, about two and half miles from the sea. To the north of the village lies the Castle, which gives Castle Eden part of its name. The meaning of the word 'Eden' is however less clear. One suggestion is that it comes from the Celtic word for 'gushing', which was used to describe the small stream that runs through the area. Alternatively it may come from the Old English for 'God's Valley'.

The castle was probably the site of a medieval castle, and was mentioned in a 12th century document. However, all that survives now is an 18th century house built by Rowland Burdon to the plans of a local architect, William Newton of Newcastle. A large Gothic palmhouse is built onto the front of the building. At one time it was owned by the National Coal Board. Part of the parklandhas been turned into a golf course. An unusual a feature of the 13th is the hollow on the left of the fairway, which is the site of an air crash during the Second World War (1944). Club Captains, accompanied by the local vicar, still visit the spot on Remembrance Day, marking the spot with a wooden cross. The Burdon family also built a cotton factory in 1792, though this later started manufacturing sailcloth. A foundry and a bleachery were also built, though no remains of any of these sites can now be seen.

The present church of St James at Castle Eden was built in the 18th century. However, it was built on the site of an older church, which was probably built c.1150 and stood until 1764.
Castle Eden is also famous for its brewery, though it does not actually stand in the village itself. It was founded by the Nimmo family in the early 19th century, when it brewed 'Nimmo's Sparkling Ales'. It stayed in the family until the 1960s when it was taken over by Whitbreads.

Castle Eden has a number of sites associated with the First World War including the Drill Hall in the Parklands area which was used as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.) Hospital and a nearby rifle range that was possibly in use right through to WW2. The parish church is known to contain a number of features dedicated as war memorials in addition to the village memorial cross.

Reference number:D6759
Event(s):Limestone Landscapes Historic Environment Audit And Action Plan; Archaeo-Environment Ltd
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.