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History of Newbrough

Old Newbrough: some historical notes Originally published for the Newbrough Town Hall Centenary 1878-1978 Compiled by J.S. Charlton 1978

Previous to the twelfth or thirteenth century little is known of the history of Newbrough and in all probability its site was then a grove or forest, inhabited by, the aborigines of these Northern parts; at all events, at that period previous to, or about the time of the Roman occupation and erection of that great rampart the Roman Wall; in this fertile and secluded spot, if inhabited by the Ancient Britons, they would often be disturbed in their peaceful solitude, whether engaged in the chase, or the unhallowed rites and celebrations of their Druid worship (which was to them at that early period, their only religion) by the Romans who had then began to explore and construct roads and forts in order to effect the entire subjugation of Ancient British power, as pointed out to the inhabitants of this day by antiquarian skill and research. However, antecedent to that early period there are to be found in the immediate neighbourhood the remains of an Ancient British tribe on the peak of Warden Hill, there they reared their fortresses and on that elevated spot would command a position for observation and extensive power over their enemies. As a proof of their occupation, the fortresses occupies a circular area of about two acres, with one entrance from the east defended by a rampart of unhewn stones, a subterranean passage has also been discovered and several hand-mills. The camp was subsequently occupied by the Romans as a place of defence until their abandonment of Britain in the fifth century, followed by the Saxons who, sharpened by the stubborn resistance of the Britons, spared neither lives nor habitations, and all the remains of Roman grandeur were devoured by the flames.

Newbrough had its origin from an early date according to the belief of a great antiquarian writer, who asserts that after the departure of the Romans, the natives of the district availing themselves of the half-ruined houses in the station of Procolitia (Carrawbrough) and the building material lying around the settled themselves in that place, but after a time, probably after the place had been sacked by a raid of Northern freebooters, they removed to a more sheltered spot hence the Newborough or Newbrough This assertion seems not at all improbable, and it has been observed from the excavations made in the station of Procolitia that the ruins are not now in the state in which the Romans left them, a proof that they had been inhabited after their departure, but from the most authentic history, Newbrough was founded and formed into a borough by the Cumin family, and was included in the ancient manor of Thornton in Tynedale, which was granted together with Stonecroft and Carraw in 1124, by David, King of Scotland to Wm. Cumin and Richard Cumin, Earl of Buchan. About the beginning of the reign of Henry III, the Cumin family obtained a charter for a market at Thornton which was the name of the estate upon which the new burgh was situated. The grant for a market was dated June 20th 1221 to be held on Thursdays, weekly, this charter was granted to the inhabitants until the King was of age. On the partition of the Cumin estate between the Talbots and Strathbogles nearly a century afterwards ‘Novus Burgus’ is expressly mentioned as a villa at Thornton Newburgh and in the Latin ‘Novus Burgus’, its oldest and correct forms, Neubrough the most common but frequently Newborough.

It has been thought probable that after the town was formed into a burgh, the grounds around it were shared among several families, the principal names among which in 1568 (as well as in 1665) were Stokes, Glenwright and Lambert of whom the Stokes had taken the deepest root in the place. Roger Stokes of Newbrough died November 14th, 1560. He held thirteen burgages of tenures, sever tenements and 540 acres of land there of the King as of his manor of Wark, besides other property. From the old stock of the Lamberts of Newbrough, descended Mr. Richard Lambert eminent in Newcastle, who in 1751 suggested the establishment of an infirmary there; that idea was carried out hence the founding of the present infirmary, and afterwards Mr.Lambert retired to his country residence at Newbrough. At that time it was described as a very old and curious house (three centuries old at least) with a broad meadow and fine trees before it but time’s convulsions had tugged it to and fro, and rendering considerable repairs to it necessary. Mr. Richard Lambert died at Newbrough on February 16th 1782 and was interred in the chancel of Newbrough church.

Newbrough church dedicated to St. Peter, was founded in 1242, when, by the establishment of the vicarage in that year, Haydon and Stonecroft were each to have its own chaplain with half an acre of ground and a suitable house for his residence. After the Reformation the office of curate seems here to have been annual for some time. In 1681 the chancel was represented as being in decay, and about a ruin. During the great rebellion rural industry and the arts sat in abeyance, “the mason forgot his trade and nettles grew where altars stood” In 1584 the office of curate was vacant and in 1604 the vicar, John Winne, answered for both Warden and Newbrough. Subsequent to this period, history is silent for upward of a hundred years as to the state of the church, but it is known that on the visitation of the archdeacon, on March 15th 1763 it was necessary to make improvements, and probably the present bell was first used about that time. The church was re-built in 1797, at a cost of £300. The present edifice was erected in 1865-6.

The Stanegate or Roman road runs through the village of Newbrough, traces of which have been found during some recent excavations, it is also known as Carel Street.

It is considered to be the road constructed by Agricola to connect the forts which he reared in order to secure the rear of his army when he advanced into Caledonia. It ran from Chesters (Cilurnum), past Chesterholme (Vindolanda) to Caervoran.

The military road to the north of the village was constructed on the orders of General Wade after the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion. This road was laid on the foundations of the Roman Wall where the ground allowed. This road was the major link between Newcastle and Carlisle until the construction of the A69 which runs to the south of the village.

The Land and its Owners



The Cumin or Cumyn or Comyn family owned this manor until in


Joan de Cumin divided the property between her two grand-daughters who married into the Percy family.


Thornton Tower was inherited by Lord Burrows.


Owned by John Armstrong Gent.


Now owned by John Bacon of Staward and later by his son William Bacon who sold it to Middleton Teasdale Esq., who left it to his aunt Mrs. Jane Bacon, who left it to her nephew Henry Westell, who built the present mansion Newbrough Hall.



This was part of the inheritance of Kextilda and therefore Cumin lands.


The Swinburnes of Haughton Castle had acquired the property which descended finally to Christian wife of Sir John Widdrington and to their son Henry Widdrington who died in 1502.


Nicholas Errington obtained part of the Stonecroft Estate and it remained in the Errington family until Dorothy, wife of John Errington of Beaumont left it to her nephew, John Widdrington.


William, Lord Widdrington, sold the estate to the Gibson family who held it until the year


when it was sold to Mr. Wm Todd. of Haydon Bridge.


This was part of the Cumin lands and in 1330 it became the property of Elizabeth Talbot daughter of John Cumin. At this time the Monks of Hexham had right of pasture on the common

I 568

Thos. Percy, Earl of Northumberland owned- the Syde (Greys side),


It was rated as belonging to Christopher Stokoe.


William Errington paid to the Duke of Somerset thirty shillings as half- yearly rrnt of the Syde, and ten shillings for the Talbot meadows.


Since about this date Greyside has been in the hands of the Dukes of Northumberland.



Described as a hamlet in the ownership of Hexham Monastery, a gift from Richard Cumin


The Prior of Hexham added a stone house to the Carraw Tower.


Sir Reginald Carnaby had it on lease from the Crown, Crown held it to 1568.


Settled by Sir John Forster on his grandson, John Fenwick of Wallington.


Ownership of Henry Forster who left it by will to John Bacon of Staward.


Sold to Robt. Tomlinson, Newcastle whose heirs sold to Christopher Soulsby.


Sold to Michael Dodds whose grandson Geo. Dodds lived there in 1840.



In the Border survey of 1604, Albany Featherstone heldeth part of Nunbushes and John Fenwick, Esq., heldeth the Carr Rawe, part of Nunbushes and the Rye Cheydes, being late of the dissolved Monastery of Hexham, but by what title is not known,


Property of Mark Millbank Esq. but it is passed with Stonecroft from the Erringtons to the Widdringtons who in


sold it to the Gibsons.


Ceo. Henderson resided at Nunbush (ex Warden Poor Book).


It was the property of Mr. Chicken

Nunbush This cottage standing on the Stanegate, west of St. Peter’s Church, is now in ruins, was the last survivor in the parish of the “blackthack hooses” once so common and picturesque. It has been suggested that its name indicates the presence at some time of a nunnery. There is nothing to support this except the name which is probably to be associated with ‘NUNNESFIELD’ in the Black Book of Hexham. In 1518 on was the scene of the following tragedy: – “John Stokoe, of Nunbus, in the parish of Newbrough in Tindale, went to the Church of Durham and there sought refuge, because of the day of the Invention of the Holy Cross, in the year before, with a dagger, at Nunbus, when aforesaid, he struck one Robert Orderley on the right shoulder, by giving him a mortal blow by which he died. Richard Gibson and Thomas Haughton Mill being present at the time”.

Subsequently, a later reference appears in the Border Survey (A.D. 1604) which states that of NUNBUSHES was then owned by Albany Featherstone, now Albany received the confiscated lands of Lambley Nunnery; this seems to explain a lot. There is also a tradition in the parish that Nunsbush was once the residence of two nuns. So, I am now inclined to believe that Nunsbush got its name from the fact that it was owned by Lambley Nunnery, which, I think was under the same “rule” as Hexham monastery; and” as the canons resided two and two in the villages, so it was with the nuns. I expect that the nuns were there to look after the property and to act as attendants for visitors at the “St, Mary’s Well” in the NUNNESFIEID close by. The Nunnery was dedicated to St Mary and St. Patrick. Perhaps this is why the well was dedicated to St Mary.

Stonecroft House

In 1693 (sixteen ninety three) Lord Widdrington sold the Stonecroft Estate to Thomas Gibson for the sum of £150 (one hundred and fifty pounds) and it remained in the hands of the Gibson family until it was sold to Mr William Todd in 1822 (eighteen twenty-two). The Gibsons who were Roman Catholics had many Priests amongst their number, one being the Rev Father George Gibson who died in 1696 (sixteen ninety six) and was buried in St. Peter’s Churchyard. He was a brother of Thomas Gibson of Stonecroft. In the middle of the 18th century Jasper Gibson of Stonecroft married Margaret daughter of Nicholas Leadbitter of Low Warden, by whom he had twenty two children. Descendants of the Stonecroft Gibsons are numerous today in Hexham and Newcastle. It is said that Mr. Wm. Todd was something of a miser living in only one or two rooms of the old mansion, letting off the rest to labourers and neglecting the house and gardens. The late Mr Temperley of Allerwash was present when the old house was demolished: It was three storeys high and there was found to be a Roman Catholic Chapel within the house. Hay had been tightly packed between the ceiling and the floor, no doubt to deaden the sound in the times of persecution. Many of the old oak beams were used in building the present house which dates from 1840 (eighteen forty).

Report on the remains of the Water driven CORN MILLS inspected in the Newbrough Parish by J.S. Charlton and Eric Griffith on 6th September 1973.

The site is on the south side of the Butt Bank to Allerwash road, some forty yards east of the junction of Newbrough burn with River Tyne and adjoining the Newcastle Carlisle railway. All the mill buildings, together with a dwelling house immediately to the east, are remaining. The dwelling house is occupied by an estate worker (Newbrough Lodge estate). There is no machinery: the water wheel chamber, from measurements taken it would appear that the wheel was of 18 feet diameter, and 4 feet width. An ‘overshot’ wheel, the outlet tunnel (stone cundy) is still visible. The timber of the cornmill roof and floors is in very poor shape and the building is generally in disuse. (The Mill buildings were demolished in 1975.)

THE DAM is situated in Newbrough burn some two hundred yards upstream from the Haydon Bridge road. The dam and sluice ways are in quite good condition, having been covered with concrete and the stonework may have been ‘pointed’ There is little evidence of the culvert or pipe from the dam to the water wheel.

Thornton Tower

The site is about fifty yards north of the farmhouse and thirty yards east of the Newbrough Thorneys Fell road. There is no real evidence of a water mill as this mill was converted to steam power then to oil engine and at the present time a corn dressing machine is electrically driven. We noted that the chimney for the steam engine had probably been built over the water wheel chamber. The chimney top half is of dressed stone and the bottom half of rubble stone. The dressed stone may have been taken from the adjacent Thornton Tower, now only a heap of rubble. We assumed, from the contours of the ground, that water for this mill had come from the north-east corner of the field to the north of the mill. There is also reputed to be a stone ‘cundy’ from Thornton Tower to Newbrough burn, joining the burn just below the stone bridge west of the Hall stables.

Low Stonecroft

The site (NY 862683) is some 250 yards west of Low Stonecroft House and twenty yards north of Settlingstones burn. The mill building norm houses a grain dryer but some evidence of the water-driven mill can be seen. Four peak stones of about four feet in diameter and ten inches thickness have been erected to form a stairway within the building. The wheel pit with its dressed stone wall still remains and a groove on the wheel pit wall together with the shaft entry suggests that a large overshot wheel of twenty feet diameter and four feet six inches was used. A short distance north, and above, the building is a small pond. The outlet is by what appears to be a fifteen inch metal pipe first underground and then supported on stone projection from the building discharging water onto a wood launder arranged to shoot the water ‘back to the wheel’ to allow a clockwise direction when viewed from the east. Within the building there are traces of the sack hoist and floor traps and the bolt, with attached buckets, of an elevator, there are also several pulley wheels and. shafting etc., lying aside dismantled. There was probably a square kiln which is now gutted and used as a hay store.

Allerwash Farm

All the machinery has been removed and we understand some has gone to the museum of Mr. Moffat at Peepey, Stocksfield. The pond to the north west some five hundred yards still exists, no sluice doors appear to be fitted and the pond is probably only half full of water.

History Time Line :

1500 – 500 BC Warden Hill Camp settlement with triple ramparts, horseshoe shaped, covering some two acres.

Roman Times

AD80  Agricola uses Stanegate route in campaign against Celts, marching from Carlisle to Berwick. Romans stayed here some 350 years leaving extensive remains throughout the parishes, from Chesters fort to camps at Carron, Grindon terraces (vines?) near Settlingstones, and the Wall. Belgian 1st Cohort occupied Carrowbrough fort & Asturian cavalry the Cilurnum fort.

(1930) A coin of Constantine the great (AD306-337) unearthed in St Peter’s churchyard. Subsequent excavations revealed traces of Roman fortlet enclosing three quarter acre, probably 2nd Century rebuilt in 4th century.

410-420 Romans leave the area

Post-Roman Times

5th Century: Angles & Saxons arrive in their flat-bottomed boats, drove out Britons and settled down here.

710 St Michael’s church, Warden, built (by Bishop Wilfrid followed a vision he had of the saint when ill on a French pilgrimage). It is the earliest of the six Saxon church towers in Northumberland.

788 Aelfwold, King of Northumbria, slain at Chesters (?) and buried in Hexham Abbey.

867-878  Parish under rule of Danish King Ricsig (“ultra Tynum”) After Battle of Corbridge (AD 923) Danish power bordered east of Chollerford/Bellingham. No written records exist of any event in the parish from 789-1138, but Warden possibly escaped the worst of Danish raids.

1100-1125 The “Warden Man” headstone, now in St Michael’s probably carved from an old Roman altar stone.

AD 1113 Augustinian Canons take over Hexham Abbey (then in ruins) was appointed Vicar of Warden: all Warden Vicars were of this Order until Dissolution of Monasteries 1538.

1139   King David of Scotland given all of Northl’d by King Stephen.

1159   Tindale (incl Newbrough/Walwick) granted to King Wm the Lion of Scotland. (possibly why we have the “Red Lion Inn” there)

Northl’d          Tindale         Cumyn Land             All’wash F’stones

Carrow Walwick       Warden Langley

1139-1153     Scottish          Scottish          Scottish                      Scottish

1153-1159     English           English           English                       English

1159-1293     English          Scottish           Scottish                      English

1293-             English          English           English                        English

Until Military Rd built in 1750 the Stanegate was the main route between Newcastle and Carlisle. Along it travelled Wm the Lion in 1179; King John of England in 1211 and Edward I in 1306.

1170   The ancient “Stonecroft Chapel” reported to be entirely in ruins.

1221 Henry III signs Charter granting weekly market to “Thornton in Tindale ”

1242 Chapel of St Peter’s in Stanecroft built to replace earlier ruined one and a resident curate appointed in 1243

1296/97 Churches of Warden, Newbrough and Hexham burnt by Scots under Wallace.

1306 Edward I stayed at Thornton Tower for brief period on way to Cumbria where he died in 1307

1312 Scots again lay waste to parish

1331 Edward III ends Scottish rule in the area and assigns Comyn Lands (Walwyck, Thornton, Quarnelye, Stayncroft & Alrewas) to Richard and Elizabeth Talbot. These lands later fell to the Percy’s by marriage, purchase or family settlement. On Hotspur’s death in 1403 they went to the Crown but later restored to Hotspur’s son.

1350 The Border Courts of Justice met at Fourstones, under King of Scotland and Archbishop of York.

1466 Earl of Northl’d Roll of Dues includes taxes from Allerwash, Warden & F’stones (2 watermills, coal mines, farm) and from Walwick (farm). Hexham Monastery recorded as owning whole of Warden Manor- at a rental of £6 annually.

1538 The Lord of the Middle March’s Muster Roll included Warden (21 men N’brough (29), Allerwash (14), & F’stones (9). Of these “53 able with hors and harnes”. Parishes were then required to maintain constant night patrols against Border raiders.

1539 On the Dissolution of the Monasteries the total value of Monastic properties in the parish was £9-13-4d of which £1-6-6 N’brough: £1-0-0 Alweiche (sic), and 13-4d F’stones. The Vicar of Warden, Jacobus Whytskill, an Austin Canon, was ejected from his parish (but escaped death unlike 4 of his brethren here)

1580 The Middle Marches Muster Roll could only number 7 horsemen at Warden and one at Settlingstones. Carrow was then lying in waste every Pele Tower required to have warning bonfires on the roof, and “watchers” were posted along the Wall and at every river ford.

1596/97 The Black Plague was raging throughout the area.

1604 The Border Survey refers to 13 dwellings and “cole mynes” at F’stones.

1643 Revd John Shaftoe, Vicar of Warden: subsequently became a Presbyterian Minister and remained incumbent at Warden for 54 years through turbulent changes.

1681 Warden church reported to be “ruinous and unglazed” and St Peter’s to be “in ruins and much decayed”.

1715 & 1745 Jacobite Risings; The Middle Ages Stone cross at East Fourstones said to be used as secret letter box by rebel agents.

1749-52 Gen. Wade built the Military Road; bordering north of parishes.

1762 The South Tyne Paper Mill built at Warden by Vicar Romney of Hexham; its annual rates were £10-10-0.

1763-65 Major restoration works effected to St Michael’s (£443) under Sir Walter Blackett; new Porch & Vestry, Chancel shortened and battlements added to Tower top.

1768 Rateable Value of property in Warden £1,717, with 24 ratepayers (and 12 paupers).

1771 Major flood disaster swept away every bridge in the area, except Corbridge. A flood level marker stone inserted in West Boat’s north end wall.

1795/97 St Peter’s church entirely rebuilt.

1796 Newbrough Lodge built by Wm Ord.

1818 Newbrough School built by public subscription but land ownership disputed and in 1854 another built on land given by Greenwich Hospital. This became Boys School, opposite earlier one which was Girl’s School, rebuilt in 1880.

1820 First school at Hardhaugh built- replaced by new one in 1861

1826 New Hexham-Haydon bridge road built, passing Coastley with a toll at Greenshaw Plain. Royal Mail coaches did a steady 8 mph when flat out on it.”

1826 Warden Suspension Bridge built (£5,000) to replace ferries at East Boat (Hermitage) and West Boat (Warden).

1833 Population reported to be 494 in Newbrough and 540 in Warden.

1836 Park Shield farm house built

1836 Newcastle-Carlisle Railway joined up at Warden -trains averaged 8 mph.

1837 Newbrough bridge built.

1840 Allerwash HaII built by Wm Benson.

1851 “Stonecroft Lead Mining Co” formed, originally to mine lead but later only barytes.

1852 After a violent thunderstorm the bridge at Caponscleugh was washed away and a train crashed into the river.

1854 The Mechanics institute and Library built at Newbrough by public subscription.

1860 The United Methodist Free Chapel built.

1865-66 St Peter’s church pulled down and rebuilt (£923-8-3).

1868 Extensive repairs to St Michael’s porch, windows, vestry, ceiling and a new floor.

1876 Butt Bank Wesleyan Methodist Chapel built.

1878 Foundation stone of Newbrough Town Hall laid by Miss Jane Todd.

1881 Newbrough Cricket Club formed.

1883 St Peter’s Chancel extended & widened, vestry lengthened, windows raised and a new organ presented by Canon Cruddas.

1888 St Michael’s Chancel restored.

1892 St Aidan’s built, peppercorn rent of 1/- a year.

1904 Mission Hall at Warden built.

1920/21 St Peter’s Lych gate war memorial erected by public subscription

1926 Fourstones Colliery (first mentioned in records of parish in 1446) closed down. About 90 men were then employed in it.

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  • Newbrough Hall

    Newbrough was anciently part of the Manor of Thornton. The mediæval tower house known as Thornton Tower

  • Stanegate Roman road, built in A.D. 71

    Newbrough and Fourstones are on the Stanegate Roman road, built in A.D. 71, which runs from east to west and formed the original northern frontier before the building of Hadrian’s Wall.

  • Newbrough Town Hall

    Thought to be one of the finest in Tynedale, was built in 1876 and extensively modernised in 2000

Newbrough War Memorial 1914-1918 and 1939 – 1945

1939-1945 Memorial Plaque on Newbrough War Memorial

Pte Arthur Bell Green Howards
Sergt Air Gunner John L Bird RAF
Wireless Operator John H Dixon RAF
Sergt Maurice Hetherington RNF
Cpl T Edward Scott Royal Marines
Sergt Dennis Scott REME
L/Corp William J Sowerby East Lancs
Flying Officer Fred J Stuart CGM RAF
Pte Douglas Green Howards
Pte Dennis H Wilson Border Regiment

Furher Research

Pte Arthur Bell Green Howards
Sergt Air Gunner John Lambert Bird 2225274 RAF volunteer reserves died Wednesday, March 14, 1945 Age 24 Age 24 Newbrough (St. Peter) churchyard
Sergt Wireless Operator John Harley Dixon 996657 died April 3rd 1942 aged 22 years RAF WOAG 101 Squadron Commemorated at Runnymede Memorial Parents: George and Elizabeth A. Dixon, of Chester-le-Street, Co. Durham.
Sergt Maurice Hetherington 4273733 50th (4th Bn. The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers) Regt.
Reconnaissance Corps Died of wounds May 27th 1942 Age 35 years Middle East – Western Desert TOBRUK WAR CEMETERY
Cpl Thomas Edward Scott PO/X 112102 H.M.L.C.A. 557. Royal Marines Royal Marines died 06/06/1944 age 21 son of Thomas Alexander Scott and Jenny Scott; husband of Mary Scott, of Hexham, Northumberland.

Sergt Dennis Scott REME (Informant T Scott parent)
L/Corp William James Sowerby 3608270 1st East Lancs Regiment killed in action September 4th 1944 aged 21 yrs. (Informant MA Sowerby parent)
Flying Officer Frederick John Stuart Conspicuous Gallantry Medal – 426 Squadron 158306 died Monday, December 20, 1943 Age 27 Rheinberg War Cemetery Son of Frederick and Lydia Eleanor Stuart; husband of Constance Scope Stuart, of Fourstones, Northumberland.
Pte Douglas F Thorburn 4459828 Pioneer Green Howards
Pte Dennis H Wilson Border Regiment 14658593 Killed in Burma Feb 17th 1945 Age 20 years