‘The church community cliff’. Eggescliva 1155×89, Eggasclif before 1172, Eggecliue c.1175-1400 with variants –clif –clyf –clyve, Eggisclife 1554, 1625, Eggleclif c.1190, Ecclescliue 1197, Eg(g)lescliue –clyf 13th cent., Eg(g)lisclif(f) –clyff 1374-1527, Egglescliffe from 1605×6, Eaglescliffe 1639-1874. This is a difficult name. It has been claimed as a compound of PrW ‘egles ‘a church, church community’ and OE clif ‘a hill’, but the earliest spellings do not obviously support this. On the other hand derivation from OE per.ns. Ecgi or Ecgel, genitive sing. Ecges, Ecg(e)les, ‘Egi or Ecgel’s cliff’, might have been expected to give a modern pronunciation with Edge- rather than Eg- as in EDGEWORTH Glos SO9406, Ege(s)w(u)rthe 1222-87, Eggesw(o)rthe c.1230-1427, and EDGEWARE Gtr. Lond, Eggeswere 1176-1411, Eggewere 1294-1389. The village is situated on a steep brow overlooking the River Tees.
Information about this place-name was provided by Victor Watts by personal communication.
In 1234 the heiress of Egglescliffe, Pleasance Brito, married Thomas de Aslakby. The manor of Egglescliffe continued with their descendants, the Aslakbys, until James Garnett purchased it in 1556.
See the Victoria History of the County of Durham vol.3 (ed.) William Page (1928)
An Early Mention
From “An Historical, Topographical, and Descriptive view of the County Palatine of Durham” E.Mackenzie and M.Ross, vol.1, (1834) ‘The village of Egglescliffe occupies a lofty situation on a point of land half surrounded by the river Tees, and commands a beautiful prospect of the windings of that river, the bridge, and the town of Yarm, which here appears, as it were, under the feet of the spectator. The view is bounded by the undulating summits of the Cleveland Hills. Many of the houses in Egglescliffe are but one story high, with small gardens in front, which, were the roads through the village kept in good order, would have a very neat appearance. In an open space in the centre stands the pedestal and part of an old stone cross, from which it has been implied that a market was formerly held here. Messrs. Kay carry on an extensive tannery near the bridge, where there is also a paper-mill belonging to Mr. Bainbridge. The “Yarm depot” of coal and lime is likewise situated near the high road which crosses the bridge; being connected, by a branch of about a mile in length, with the main line of the Stockton and Darlington. Egglescliffe is the residence of two blacksmiths, a bricklayer, a stone-mason, &c.; and contains an inn and three public houses. This place, during the civil wars, was garrisoned, with Stockton, for the king; and the Parish Register mentions a skirmish at Yarum-bridge, in February, 1643.”
St. John the Evangelist (includes 12th, 13th and 15th century work.)
Old Hall (early 17th century)
Pot and Glass (early 18th century)
The Hall (1772)
Manor House (18th century)
The Rectory (1845)
A Few Lost Buildings
Pantiled cottage on Butts Lane (18th century)
Wren’s Vinegar Brewery (opened as a paper mill in 1832) demolished 1973.
Some People of Note
John de Egglescliff (d. 1347) Appointed Bishop of Glasgow in 1318 but circumstances prevented him from taking possession of his see. He was Bishop of Llandaff from 1323 to 1347.
James Young (born c.1563) A Catholic Priest who was used as an informant by the government of Elizabeth I.
William James (1542-1617) A clergyman from Staffordshire who was Rector of Egglescliffe from 1603 to 1606. He went on to serve as Bishop of Durham from 1606 to 1617.
John Garnett (1615-1675) A Captain of Horse in a Cavalier regiment during the Civil War.
Isaac Bazire (1607-1676) The Royalist rector of Egglescliffe at the time of the Civil War.
John Brewster (1753-1842) The Rector of Egglescliffe who published a History of Stockton-on-Tees in 1829.
The Hearth Tax of 1666
33 houses in Egglescliffe had one or two hearths and 2 houses had 3 hearths. The wealthiest were Ralph Emmerson Gent. (4 hearths) and Doctor Basier (7 hearths). 7 more houses were exempt from the Hearth Tax.
See “Hearth Tax List for South Durham Lady Day 1666” (ed.) J.C.Howe for the Cleveland Family History Society.
Whellan’s 1856 directory lists 2 shopkeepers in Egglescliffe, along with a butcher, a fishmonger, a tailor, 3 shoemakers, 2 blacksmiths, a cartwright, and no less than 7 gardeners. The village inn was the Blue Bell. In Kelly’s 1914 directory, the Blue Bell was still there, along with 2 shopkeepers, a grocer, a dressmaker, a corn merchant, 2 market gardeners, a mason and “Cecil Wren & Co. Ltd. Vinegar makers”.
A Selection of Dates
1080 A charter issued by William, Bishop of Durham, bearing this date mentions Giles, the clerk of “Eggascliff”
1264 Thomas de Aislaby, Lord of Egglescliffe and Aislaby, fought at the Battle of Lewes.
1350 A document from Bishop Hatfield’s staff mentioned a ferryman at Egglescliffe.
1539 Parish register commenced.
1581 The Rector of Egglescliffe, Henry Newton, got into a brawl with the Master of Greatham Hospital.
1589 Thomas Conyers of Egglescliffe endowed Yarm Grammar School.
1633 Archdeacon Clarke wrote an account of the state of the parish church.
1643 The parish register records a soldier “slain here at ye Yarum skirmish.”
1644 In this year 21 people died of the plague in Egglescliffe.
1670 John Garnett sold the manor of Egglescliffe to Thomas Wood, bishop of Lichfield.
1681 A riot took place at the fishgarth.
1745 The dedication of the parish church had long been forgotten. It was thought to have been for St. John, and the church has been St. John’s ever since. The original dedication is now known to have been to St. Mary.
1764 The road from Yarm to Stockton was straightened.
1806 The recently erected iron bridge across the Tees at Egglescliffe collapsed.
1832 A paper mill was established at Egglescliffe by Charles Bainbridge and Sons.
1842 The parochial school was opened.
1846 The paper mill was damaged by fire.
1848 Thomas Wren built a flour mill close to the Egglescliffe end of Yarm Bridge.
1897 The Jubilee Assembly Rooms were built.
1904 Edmund Cecil Wren converted the old paper mill into a vinegar brewery.
1964 The Church of England Primary School moved into new buildings.
1974 Egglescliffe became part of Stockton Borough.
1975 The A19 was re-routed to the east of Egglescliffe. Previously it ran close to the west end of the village.
2006 Restoration work was carried out at the coal drops of the original Stockton and Darlington Railway.
2015 A project to record historic buildings in Egglescliffe began.
This list of dates was based on “Egglescliffe: A Short History of the Village” by Rev. A.T.Dingle and other secondary sources.
Suggested Further Reading
“The Victoria History of the County of Durham” vol.3 (ed.) William Page (1928)
“Brief Notes on the Parish Church of Egglescliffe” L.Nelson (1967)
“Egglescliffe: A Short History of the Village” A.T.Dingle (ed. R.Wood, 1973)
“Society and Land in the South Durham Township: Egglescliffe 1560-1700” B.J.D.Harrison, CTLHS Bulletin 35 (1978)
“John Brewster of Egglescliffe: Rural Poverty and the Poor Law” B. Jewitt, CTLHS Bulletin 50 (1986)