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Themes Explorers and Adventurers Nobel Prize Winners
Actors/Actresses and Directors Famous People Places of Interest
Anglo-Saxons and Danes Historic Events Prime Ministers
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Inventors and Scientists Royal Consorts and Heirs
Artists and Architects Monarchs World Heritage Sites
Composers National Parks Writers and Poets


Durham lies in north-eastern England on the North Sea. In 1974 Tyne and Wear was formed out of parts of Durham and Northumberland and Cleveland out of parts of Durham and Yorkshire. Both Tyne and Wear and Cleveland have since been broken up into smaller authorities.

Towns include the county seat of Durham.

Some of Britain's richest coalfields were mined in the county.

Anglo-Saxons and Danes
Formed part of the kingdom of Northumbria which itself had been formed from the smaller kingdoms of Bernicia and Deira. Deira reached from the Humber in the south to the river Tees in the north. North of the Tees reaching as far as the Forth of Firth lay the kingdom of Bernicia of which Bamburgh was the capital.

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The North Pennines AONB is the second largest in England and Wales (after the Cotswolds) and was designated in 1988. The protected area spreads over the three counties of Northumberland, Cumbria and Durham and was once the location of intensive lead mining, the decline of which has left its mark on the local landscape. The area marks the northern end of the mountain range which runs down the centre of the country to Derbyshire, "the backbone of Britain".

Historic Events

Major Battles
In 1346 the English defeated an invading Scottish army at the Battle of Neville's Cross near Durham. During the battle the Scottish monarch David II was captured and the king stayed a prisoner of Edward III until his release in 1357.

Notable Achievements
In 1825 George Stephenson opened the world's first public passenger and freight railway which ran from Stockton to Darlington in the county.

George Stephenson


Scottish House of Bruce
House of Bruce
The Scottish monarch David II was captured at the Battle of Neville's Cross in 1346. He was kept in different prisons, including the Tower of London, before eventually being released on payment of a ransom in 1357.

Famous people imprisoned at the Tower of London

Places of Interest

Durham Castle

Cathedrals and Abbeys
Durham Cathedral

Stately Homes and Palaces
Washington Old Hall is situated in the village of Washington, and is where the ancestors of the USA's first President George Washington once lived.

Durham University received its Royal Charter in 1837, having been founded in 1832. If the founding date is taken rather than the date it received its Royal Charter it is England's third oldest university after Oxford and Cambridge. Otherwise this distinction would go to the University of London (Royal Charter 1836) or one of its constituent colleges: King's College London (founded 1829) or University College London (founded 1826).

Prime Ministers

Prime Ministers
Anthony Eden born as Robert Anthony Eden in 1897 at Windlestone Hall in Bishop Auckland took over from Winston Churchill as Prime Minister from 1955-57. He was responsible for British forces occupying the Suez Canal Zone in 1956, a step which led to the Suez Crisis and severe criticism at home and abroad, criticism which did not subside even after the troops were withdrawn. Eden resigned in 1957 due to poor health.

Anthony Eden
Suez Crisis

World Heritage Sites

Durham Cathedral together with Durham Castle were built in the 11-12th centuries and were designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1986. They represent the finest examples of Norman architecture in Britain.

Writers and Poets
The scholar and historian St Bede (known later as the Venerable Bede) was born at Monkton in 673. After studying at the monastery at Monkwearmouth (now in Sunderland), he was moved while still young back to a new monastery in Jarrow. Here he would later be ordained as a priest and spend the rest of his life studying and teaching. In 731 he completed his most famous work Ecclesiastical History of the English People, a key work for understanding early English history. He died in 735 and after originally being buried at Jarrow his bones were moved in the 11th century to Durham Cathedral.

The poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning was born as Elizabeth Barrett at Coxhoe Hall in 1806. In 1845 she married the poet Robert Browning and the following year they emigrated to Italy.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The devil's most devilish when respectable.
Aurora Leigh (1857)

County Links Genealogy in England

Genealogy Links

Births, Marriages
and Deaths (BMD)
Family History Societies
Record Offices
and Archives
Durham University Library Archives & Special Collections
Tyne & Wear Archives
Durham County
Local History Society
Surtees Society