Old 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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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Newbrough War Memorial

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