Keys to the Past

Local History

Cornforth (County Durham)

The small parish of Cornforth was formed in 1868 out of the larger parish of Bishop Middleham. The first record of the village dates to 1196, when it was recorded as Corneford, which probably comes from the Old English for 'Ford of the Cranes'. The village stood on the site of a ford crossing the river close to a fulling mill owned by the Bishop of Durham. There are few surviving remains from this period, though historic documents record that there was a limestone quarry, a cornmill and a fulling mill. It is even possible that a pele tower stood here in the 15th century, as an area of ground known as Le Peile is recorded, though the evidence is far from certain. Of slightly later date, Brandon House, dating to the 16th or 17th century, is still visible. However, 17th century Thrislington Hall was demolished in the 1980s and now only a few earthworks are visible.

However, the nearby village of West Cornforth only dates to 1857, as it was built to provide homes for miners working in the nearby collieries. Although the earliest known coal mine in Cornforth dates to the medieval period.The first of the modern collieries was opened in 1835, but was closed down in 1851. An ironworks opened in 1859 and the famous Thrislington Colliery opened in 1867. This led to the population exploding from 1040 in 1851 to 3416 in 1871. Some relics of Cornforth's industrial past can still be seen. The tracks of a waggonway are visible, as are the remains of some Limekilns.

Cornforth has a war memorial cross dedicated to the commemoration of members of the village who fought in the First World War and WW2. A number of other memorial features can be found in the church of the Holy Trinity including plaques, windows, ornaments and items of furniture, some of which were transferred here from the Wesleyan Methodist Church when it closed.

Reference number:D6769
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.