Flambard and the Herringtons

Mention of the Herringtons begins as far as the records show in the eleventh and early twelfth century. The estates were granted by Bishop Flambard to William, son of Ranulf, the Bishop's nephew, but whom Robert Surtees, the historian, suspects to have been a descendant of one of the Bishop's natural sons. One of his successors, who adopted the title of Lord of Herrington, granted East Herrington to Roger Esh. Two parts of Herrington are also mentioned in the Boldon Book as held by Hugh Hermas at 20s. for cornage, two parts of a milch cow, two parts of a man for Castle Ward, eight chalders each of malt, meal and oats, ploughing and harrowing four acrew of the lord's land at Newbottle, and working with his men for the lord in autumn.

The drenge (a tenant under the old feudal laws) contributed two parts of feeding a horse and a dog. East Herrington continued in the Esh family and their successors, the Smythes, until 1786 when Sir Edward Smythe, Bart. sold it to General John Lambton of Lambton.

In 1328 eastern and western manors were separate estates, each possessing manorial appendages of the lord's mill. Tenure of the east was servile at first, being gradually turned into money payments, but the western manor, from the date of its earliest records, appears to have been held by military service. In Middle Herrington there was for generations a variety of properties and tenures.

How strange it all seems now at this great distance of time! We learn that Thomas Colvylle, knight, held in the right of his wife, two parts of the manor of East Herrington by foreign service, and he rendered at the four yearly terms 20s. for cornage, and at the feast of St. Martin he rendered two parts of a milch cow, 4s., and, in lieu of works, 12d., and, at the Purification, four quarters of oats, two bushels of "scalt" oats and two quarters of "scalt" malt. He used to provide one man called a castelman and to plough and harrow four acres at Newbottle: he performed works with 12 men in the harvest, and had to pay 12s. in lieu of harvest work to the occupiers of the lord's land in Newbottle, while the tenants were commanded "to follow the lord's court called Halmotetez and shall follow the pleas there and receive right and justice".

Thomas de Herrington held a messuage and 40 acres of land by as much foreign service as was incumbent on two parts of the drengage (the old form of tenure); and he attends the Bishop's great chase with parts of two greyhounds, and carts two parts of one ton of wine; follows pleas, and goes on the Bishop's embassies, finds dog and hares, and renders at each of the four terms, 5s.

A family named Robinson held lands here from the beginning of the copyhold records in the time of Edward III. Ralph Robinson sold the principal mansion to William Beckwith, of Thurcroft, Yorkshire, and the Hayning to John and Thomas Cooke, Streathorpe, Yorkshire. Much of hte estate was afterwards attached to that of the Earl of Durham.

John de Donum was a considerable owner of land in the neighbourhood, and the estate went to four sisters and co-heirs of Robert Darcy, knight, in 1414. Property in the township has since been held by various families among whom may be mentioned the Smiths, Lambs, Cuthberts of Witton Castle, and the Rowes: the portion belonging to the last mentioned was afterwards purchased by Mr Ralph Lambton, ancestor of the Earl of Durham.

A chapel in West Herrington and one at Harraton are mentioned in 1291 as having been founded for the good estate of Sir Thomas de Herrington, his parents Robert and Matilda, and his wives Amice and Osanna. A dispute occurred in 1414 between the Rector of Houghton (the Rev. John Newton) and Robert Darcy and other parishioners in which the latter required the Rector to provide a chaplain to celebrate mass three times a week in the Chapel of the Blessed Mary of West Herrington. It is probable that this chapel did not survive the dissolution of the chantries as no vestige of it now remains.

The foundation of an Episcopal Chapel was laid at West Herrington on Sept 26th, 1839, the site for which and a cemetery were given by the Earl of Durham. The building was erected at the cost of the Rev. E.S. Thurlow, Rector of Houghton, who also paid the stipend of the officiating clergyman, his son. In the township there were several freestone and limestone quarries, and Herrington Burn Mill, for some years owned by Mr. Nathaniel Edwards, occupied a pleasant situation.