|| Durham can trace
its history back a thousand years to when a religious
community looking for permanent resting place for the
body of St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne arrived in town.
They first built a wooden church, followed by a stone
church, on top of a rocky hill protected by the River
Wear, as a shrine to their saint.
Following the Norman conquest of 1066, King William decided the site was an ideal location to rule Northumbria
and defend the region against the Scots.
So, the community of Cuthbert gave way to Benedictine
Monks and a bishop appointed by the king, who consequently
began building Durham Cathedral and the city’s
Described as ‘one of the finest architectural
experiences of Europe’, the view of the cathedral
has become an image from which Durham is instantly recognisable.
During the Medieval era, the Bishop of Durham was
given the power to govern the North on the king’s
behalf and subsequently was granted the title of Prince
Bishop. As well as living in the (relative) luxury
of the castle, the bishop had supreme jurisdiction over
both civilians and the military and the power to raise
taxes and mint coins.
The prosperity of the city developed around the cathedral
with St Cuthbert’s shrine attracting pilgrims
from all over the country, which resulted in Durham becoming
one of the richest areas in England.
A series of charters were granted permitting a market
to be held every week and a three-day fair once a year,
which soon established Durham as a thriving market
In the 19th century, the University of Durham was founded,
with the castle being the first university college, while
nearby Auckland Castle became the bishop’s new residency.
The city continued to expand throughout the 1800s but
it was the dawning of the Industrial Revolution that really gave prominence to County Durham, which was
at the heart of the vital coalfields.
In 1825 the world’s first passenger railway was built and nearly every village around Durham boasted
a coalmine, although many of these have since disappeared.
After a thousand years of welcoming pilgrims, it’s
no wonder that Durham has won a reputation for hospitality,
with some of the friendliest traders, restaurateurs and
hoteliers in the country.
Compared to other modern cities of the 21st century, Durham
is somewhat compact yet it offers a wide range of facilities
for locals and visitors alike, especially if you love
to learn about our Great British history.