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MARKET TOWNS OF DURHAM (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Stanhope in 1837

Stanhope is in Darlington ward, 262 miles from London, by a road which enters the county at Pierce Bridge, and runs through West Auckland and Wolsingham to Stanhope, and on to Aldstone Moor, in Cumberland. The parish, which comprehends 55,030 acres, is one of the largest in England: it had in 1831 a population of 9,541. It is divided into four townships, of which Stanhope quarter township, in which is the town, comprehends an area of 13,010 acres, and had in 1831 233 inhabited houses and a population of 2,080, chiefly engaged in the lead mines. The town is on the northern bank of the Wear.

The church, dedicated to St. Thomas, is on a rising ground on the north side of the town; it is a plain and ancient building. On the west side of the town is an eminence called the Castle Hill, rising to the height of 108 feet perpendicular from the bank of the Wear. The summit is of an oblong figure, thirty paces wide, divided by a ditch into two irregular parts ; another ditch defends the acclivity on the north and east ; the summit is supposed, from foundations discovered many years since, to have been once surrounded by a wall of ashler work strongly cemented. The tradition is that it was a fortress of remote origin demolished in an incursion of the Scots. At a short distance from the town on the west is a spacious old building called Stanhope Hall, once the manor-house of the Featherstonehaugh family.

The market is on Friday: there were two fairs, but they are disused. The living is a rectory in the gift of the bishop of Durham, of the yearly value of £4,848, with a glebe-house. There were in the whole parish in 1833 one endowed day-school, with nearly 40 children ; one national school, partly endowed, with 60 children ; two day-schools, partly supported by endowment and subscriptions, with 136 children ; and two other day-schools unendowed, with 115 children ; five day and Sunday-schools, with nearly 500 children ; and four Sunday-schools with 282 children. Several of the schools had lending libraries attached. Near the town on the north side is a remarkable cavern, said to be a mile long, and to abound with stalactites.