Place-name: ‘Ella or Ægla’s farm or village’. Ailewic c.1150; Ellewic 1174-1441, with variants –wyc –wyk; Elwyk(e) –wik(e) c.1250-1558; Elwick from 1622. Old English personal name Ægla or Ella + wic.
Information about this place-name was supplied by Victor Watts by personal communication.
Robert de Brus, the overlord of the district of Hartness granted the manor of Elwick in dower to his daughter Agatha. This was probably on the occasion of her marriage to Ranulf, the lord of Middleham, in the middle of the twelfth century. In 1270, Elwick passed to Robert Neville. The Nevilles continued as lords of the manor of Elwick until 1570, when Charles Neville, Earl of Westmorland, forfeited all his lands because of his rebellion against Queen Elizabeth I.
See the Victoria History of the County of Durham vol.3 (ed.) William Page (1928).
An Early Mention
From the Inquisition Post Mortem of Ralph, Earl of Westmoreland, died 7th June in the 13th year of King Henry VII
“Manor and town of Elwyk, twenty messuages (houses) 500 a(cres) land, 50 a. meadow, 200 a. pasture . . .”
An early mention in literature appears in “An Historical, Topographical, and Descriptive view of the County Palatine of Durham” by E.Mackenzie and M.Ross, vol.1, (1834) “Elwick is a village and township, situated upon the side of a hill, adjoining the parish of Elwick Hall, and 9 miles north-by-east from Stockton. It contains a mill, two public houses, two schools, with shopkeepers, joiners, smiths &c.; and the township includes ten or twelve farms. A tile-manufactory has recently been established in the neighbourhood of the village. An annual feast is held here on Sunday and Monday after Old St. Magdalen’s Day, which is celebrated by ass-races and similar diversions. Elwick is mentioned in records as belonging to the Nevilles, Lumleys, and other proprietors of Hart.”
St. Peter’s church (12th century nave (later restored), 17th century chancel, 19th century tower).
Elwick Windmill (mid 19th century)
Elwick Hall (18th century. Until 1816 this was the rectory).
A Few Lost Buildings
An archaeological survey made in 2013 found traces of former buildings on the village green.
Some People of Note
Gabriel Clarke ( ? – 1662) A clergyman from Hertfordshire who was Rector of Elwick from 1620 to 1624 when he became Master of Greatham Hospital. He was one of the attendants of King Charles I on his visit to Durham.
John Cosin (1594-1672) A Norfolk man who was Rector of Elwick from 1624 to 1640, although his correspondence suggests that he was rarely resident there. He was Bishop of Durham from 1660 to 1672.
Denis Granville (1637-1703) A Cornishman who was Rector of Elwick from 1664 to 1667. He was a pious and thorough clergyman, which led to his appointment as Archdeacon of Durham.
The Hearth Tax of 1666
This gives us an idea of the size of Elwick in the 17th century. 18 houses in Elwick had 1 or 2 hearths. 1 house had 3 hearths, 1 had 4, and 1 had 5. The highest tax payer was “Ms Alston” with 7 hearths. A further 14 houses were exempt from tax.
See “Hearth Tax List for South Durham Lady Day 1666” (ed.) J.C.Howe for Cleveland Family History Society.
Whellan’s Directory of 1856 itemised 8 farmers, 3 shoemakers, 3 butchers, 2 blacksmiths, 2 tailors, 3 shopkeepers, 2 joiners and the Dun Cow. Kelly’s Directory of 1914 mentioned the MacOrville and the Spotted Cow, 2 shopkeepers, a grocer, a butcher, a tailor, a boot repairer, a cartwright, a builder and a blacksmith.
Kelly’s Directory of 1938 mentioned only a post office in Elwick, with no other shops listed, but this might be incomplete.
Some Significant Dates
c.1000 There are pre-conquest carved stones inside St. Peter’s church, on either side of the chancel arch.
c.1190 St. Peter’s church was rebuilt during the time when Hugh du Puiset was Bishop of Durham.
1327 Robert de Genete founded a chantry at Elwick.
1400 Elwick sent one lancer and two archers to a muster of troops outside Durham on the orders of King Henry IV.
1569 An Elwick man was executed for taking part in the Rising of the Northern Earls.
1592 The parish register commenced.
1644 During the Civil War, Parliamentary troops occupied Elwick and some of the villagers complained that their horses ate all their pasture.
1652 Captain William Sheraton of Elwick was deprived of his lands for fighting on the royalist side in the Civil War.
1662 The parish priest John Bowey was deprived of his living at Elwick under the Act of Uniformity.
1666 The sum of £1 13s was collected in Elwick for the relief of Londoners who had lost their homes in the great fire.
1813 Elwick church was given a new roof.
1851 The parish school was built.
1867 The Wesleyan chapel was dedicated.
1897 Trees were planted on the village green to mark Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
1916 During the First World War a German airship dropped bombs near Elwick.
1925 The farm track that led to West Hartlepool was converted into a metalled road. This was the first metalled road between Elwick and West Hartlepool.
1928 A bus service to West Hartlepool was introduced.
1930 The Women’s Institute took over the Methodist chapel.
1940 The Army requisitioned Naisberry Farm for use as a temporary casualty hospital. Buildings at Gunners Vale farmhouse were hit by German bombs.
1941 Several farms around Elwick were targeted by enemy bombers.
1948 Electricity came to the village.
1959 Elwick Hall Primary School was built.
1965 It was decided to end the annual Elwick Show.
1966 Motor cycle trials were held at Home Farm in this year and the following two years.
1973 Elwick Forge became a grade II listed building.
1975 The village green was designated a conservation area.
1978 The village hall was reopened after being enlarged to twice its previous size.
1980 Electric street lighting was installed.
1981 A new organ was installed at Elwick parish church.
1999 Elwick won second place in the small villages category of the Northumbria in Bloom competition.
2003 Three large wind turbines were erected in the parish.
2008 Elwick Windmill was restored.
This list of dates was compiled using “Development of Elwick Village Since 1850” by V.Harrison and S.Leonard (Limestone Landscapes Project website 2013) and other secondary sources.
Suggested Further Reading
“The Victoria History of County Durham” vol.3 ed. W.Page (1928)
“Elwick: a Thousand Years in the Life of a Village” by M. Ireland (2001)
“Elwick Village Green Excavations” D.Errickson (2013) (The Elwick Village Atlas Project)