Keys to the Past

Local History

Whorlton (County Durham)

Whorlton stands on the north bank of the Tees four miles downstream from Barnard Castle. The village of Whorlton (population 205) consists of houses built round a triangular green, various out-lying farms and Sledwich, a 16th century house. This village was first recorded as Queorningtun in about 1050. It probably means 'Farmstead by the mill stream'. The Old name of Whorlton Beck was no doubt Cweorning, a derivative of Old English cweorn 'mill'.

Whorlton has a long history, being a local crossing point of the Tees for many centuries. Originally there was a ford to Wycliffe and beyond. But this was dangerous, and a ferry boat operating from 1691 proved equally so. Relief came, however, with the erection of the present suspension bridge, opened amid great rejoicing in 1831. Built by John Green of Newcastle, it is the oldest suspension bridge in the country supported unaided by its original chains, and is still in constant use, in spite of a tendancy to sway under the movement of tramping feet along its wooden roadway and pavements.

The earliest occupation we know off in the parish dates to the Neolithic period. Three arrowheads were found at Humbleton Hill in 1953. These may have been used by early hunters or are possibly a sign of warfare.

By the medieval period there was certainly a village here and a Norman chapel was built, although it was pulled down in 1853. Whorlton was not the only settlement in the parish. Nearby Sledwick was probably also of medieval date, and the manor house. Sledwick Hall, although of 16th or early 17th century date may have been built on an earlier building.

The village has remained a quiet faming village, although tourists did come here to visit Whorlton Lido, a recreation area on the banks of the River Tees with miniature railway, children's corner, 9 hole putting green, refreshments and a picnic area. This closed a number of years ago.

Reference number:D6903
Event(s):Heart of Teesdale Project Heritage Audit; North of England Civic Trust

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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.