Keys to the Past

Local History

Great Lumley (County Durham)

The village of Great Lumley stands close to the A1 just to the south-east of Chester-le-Street. The village is dominated by Lumley Castle, which stands on a hill to the north. This magnificent building was probably built in the 14th century by the local ruling family, the Lumleys, after whom the village was named. Sir Ralph Lumley who built the castle was heavily involved in the many battles between England and Scotland at this period. He was celebrated for his involvement in defending Berwick-on-Tweed, and fought in the Battle of Otterburn in 1388. Despite these successes he meddled once too often politics, and he and his son were executed for treason in 1400.

There was probably once a chapel here as well, but its precise site has now been lost. The castle was surrounded by a deerpark in the medieval period. In the 18th century it was landscaped by several designers, including Sir John Vanburgh.

Although the village was probably of medieval origin, few early remains can still be seen. A set of almshouses was built in 1686 to house 12 elderly people, though they were demolished in 1971. Until 1862 the village was part of the parish of Chester-le-Street. During the early 19th century the population expanded as more people came to work on the new collieries in the area. In 1801 the population was recorded as being 696, the majority earning their living in the coal mines or on the land.

Today, most of the old village has disappeared and has been replaced by modern houses and bungalows. The castle is now a luxury hotel and its landscaped grounds have been turned into a golf course.

As the village was once within the parish of Chester-le-Street the commemoration of Great Lumley's involvement during the First World War might be somewhat skewed with many of the names of those who served being incorporated on memorials of the larger settlement. Memorials can still be found in some of the buildings of Great Lumley, or are at least known to have once been located within some of the public buildings. Various plaques, ornaments and rolls of honour can be found within Christ Church along with a memorial Lych Gate in the churchyard; whilst Methodist chapels at Lumley Thicks and Breckon Hill once contained memorial features before the buildings were turned into private residences and the memorials were relocated or lost.

Reference number:D6799
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.