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Durham is the 19th largest county or metropolitan borough in England.
Durham has the 26th highest population in England.
Durham is in 29th place for density of population.

  1. The Royal Connection
  2. Barnard Castle sits on a high rock overlooking the River Tees. It is now a ruin. It gets its name from its founder Bernard de Balliol. There is also a town of Barnard Castle nearby. The royal connection began in about 1300 when Edward I gave it to the Earl of Warwick. One of his ancestors by marriage was Richard Neville who, after a while, became a supporter of Edward IV and helped Edward in his fight to become King of England during the Wars of the Roses.

    Later, Warwick changed sides to help Henry VI get his throne back but one year later Warwick was killed. Having helped two people take the throne he became known as Warwick the kingmaker. After Warwick's death, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, took possession of the castle and it is said it became his favourite residence. He later became Richard III, reigned for two years, was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field and then took up residence in a car park in Leicester where his body was found a few years ago.

    The castle reverted to the ownership of the Neville family who enlarged and improved it. However they upset the crown in 1569 during the Rising of the North and Queen Elizabeth I took possession of the castle and in 1626 it was sold to Sir Henry Vane who was also given another Neville castle, namely Raby castle. Vane much preferred Raby and so Barnard Castle was not only abandoned but much of it was removed to improve Raby.
    The ruins can still be seen today, sometimes as an eye sight test. If you are under 14 or 15, ask your parents or grandparents to explain that comment.

  3. Durham Eats
  4. Pease Pudding, which as a child I thought was Peas Pudding and wondered what you could make for pudding from those little green, round things, is a North East England speciality and as I found a company called Durham Foods who make it, I thought it belonged here. The first thing to say is that it is certainly not a pudding. It is more of a paste and, as you can see, is often used along with some ham to fill a roll or a stottie (more later)

    It is made by cooking yellow split peas, which have been soaked overnight, either in water or, in some cases, with a shank of ham. Often an onion and some carrots may be added, Once the mix has boiled, usually for an hour or so, the vegetables and any spices you might have added, are removed (as is the ham joint) and the mixture is blended to a fine paste. I have to admit to never having tried this but I may attempt to make some soon. As to why it is made with peas and called pease, I have found no answer.

    To return to the stottie, this is another North East England thing so you're getting two for one this week, and is basically a type of bread made into a flat, round loaf with an indent in the middle. It is heavy and dense because it has only been allowed to prove once rather than the usual twice. Stotties are usually eaten split and filled, a common filling is ham slices and pease pudding. This time I do know how it might have got its name, in fact another two for the price of one. To "stott" in the dialect up in the North East, means to bounce and if you dropped a stottie, as it is heavy, it would bounce or it could be because it was cooked by dropping it on to the oven floor. Who knows?

  5. Durham VIPs
  6. Seven random people who were born in Durham in the last 100 years:-
    Rowan Atkinson (Comedian/Actor/Writer), Steph Houghton (Footballer and England Captain), Si King (Chef - Half of the Hairy Bikers), Gina McKee (Actor), the late David Bellamy (TV Presenter/Botanist/Environmental Campaigner), Charlotte Riley (Actor) and the late Sir Bobby Robson (Footballer/Manager).

  7. Now That's Weird
  8. If you visit Durham Cathedral, of which there is a picture further down the page, you can see the shrine of two Anglo-Saxon saints, namely Bede and Cuthbert. Bede wrote the first real history of England (read about it here) but it is Cuthbert who fits into this weird section. You can read more about his rather weird lifestyle on this page but it his death and final resting place that concerns us.

    After Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne, died in 687AD he was, quite naturally, buried on Lindisfarne. Once the Viking raids began in 793AD, the monks moved his relics to the mainland and, eventually, Durham Cathedral in 1104. When the body of old Cuthbert was checked, he had been dead over 400 years, it is said that it had not decomposed and in 1530, during the reformation when Henry VIII's men came to destroy many religious places and opened the tomb, this was still the case.

    What happened next is the weirdest bit of all. Legend has it that Cuthbert was reburied but in a secret place, so secret that, even today, only a few people know its whereabouts. There is some confusion over how many. Some say just the Abbot of Ampleforth and the Archbishop of Canterbury know the place of Cuthbert's burial. Others say three monks know, others 12 monks. As one person who knows dies, so the secret is passed to someone new. My simple mind says if it were only two, and both died at the same time, there is a problem.

    Just to finish this weird tale, the reason that Cuthbert was taken to Durham Cathedral in 1104 is because monks had been moving his coffin around the north of England but when they reached Durham, the coffin would go no further. They couldn't move it unless they headed to Durham Cathedral.

  9. It Happened Here
  10. This should really be "It Happens Here" because the waterfall, known as High Force, is in County Durham. It is not the highest waterfall in England but it does have, when in full flow, the largest volume of water falling over an unbroken drop.

    In the picture you can see water both sides of the centre rock. Usually, the right side as you look at it, is dry but heavy rainfall can create two falls as you can see. Very exceptionally, the last recorded time as I write this being in December 2015 after Storm Desmond, water also covered the central rock. During really cold winters the falls have been known to freeze and that must be something special to view.

    The water falling is actually the Rives Tees, 113 kms (70 miles) long. Upstream of the waterfall the river is narrow; downstream it is wider. As with all things to do with nature, it is constantly changing. The lower rock is wearing away and the waterfall is slowly moving upstream.

  11. Richard Remembers
  12. Durham only has about 40 miles of coast and, to be honest, I don't remember much about it. I do remember the seaside town of Seaton Carew which looked as though it might soon become a ghost town but can't remember if I had this thought on my first or second trip.

    Of Hartlepool, the largest coastal town, I remember nothing and we never went inland to visit the city of Durham. Besides which there have been some changes since my journeys and bits which once were part of Durham are now in Tyne and Wear. Sorry Durham and County Durham. I will visit soon.

    However, not wishing this piece to have no picture, I found one of Durham Cathedral and it does look very pretty.

  13. Owlbut's Birdwatch
  14. Kittiwakes are coastal, medium-sized gulls who can been seen almost anywhere around the English coast. They will arrive at the breeding colonies in late February and stay until August. They can then be seen, in autumn, flying down the coast and they spend the winter months out at sea. They have a small yellow beak and black eyes. They have a grey back with white underneath. Their legs are short and black. When they fly, the ends of their wings are completely black. Their population is declining and there are about 380,000 breeding pairs in the UK.

    Kittiwakes are 40 cms in length, have a wingspan of just over 100 cms and weigh between 300 and 500 grams. They like to eat fish, shrimps and worms.

We have asked the local Tourist Board(s) for a small contribution (50 pounds) to the cost of running this project and, in anticipation of their agreement, we are providing a link to their site(s) for the next five years. I can assure you we won't see anywhere near everything when we are there, so, if you fancy taking a trip into Durham check it (them) out for some great information. Apart from anything else it will get you out in the fresh air, walking around and one day you might be over 70 and still enthusiastically mobile.

All figures the latest available as at July 2020