‘The north settlement’. Northtun [late 10th]11th; Nortuna 1108 – 14, Norton from 1228. Norton was part of an episcopal estate with its caput at Stockton 2 miles to the South
Information about this place-name was supplied by Victor Watts by personal communication.
In the 10th century Ulfcytel, son of the Earl of Northumberland, granted Norton to the Community of Cuthbert. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Bishops of Durham were lords of the manor of Norton. In the parish church are several memorials of the Davison family who were prominent landowners in the district.
See The Victoria History of the County of Durham vol.3 (ed.) William Page (1928)
An Early Mention
The holdings of the Bishop of Durham were listed in the 12th century document known as the Boldon Book. A translation can be found in The Victoria History of the County of Durham vol.1 (ed.) William Page (1905)
“In Nortona there are 30 villeins, every man of whom holds 2 bovates (about 30 acres) . . . In the same vill 20 firmars hold 40 bovates and render for every 2 bovates half a mark (6s. 8d.), and they plough and harrow half an acre, and find 2 men for 2 days mowing, and the same number for carting hay. And all the firmars do 4 boon-days in the autumn with their entire household except the housewife, but he and his own household shall be quit. . . The mills have 8 acres and the meadows near the mill, and they render 20 marks. The pinder has 8 acres and thraves of corn of Norton, like the others, and renders 80 hens and 500 eggs. Twelve cottars hold tofts and crofts in the same vill and 13 acres in the fields, and they render 16 shillings and scatter hay, which they rake and help in making hayricks and in stacking corn and hay. The toll of beer of Norton renders 5 shillings. And the whole vill renders 2 milch cows.”
An early mention of Norton in literature can be found in “History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham” vol. 3, W. Hutchinson (1794).
“The beautiful village of Norton is near a mile in length, extending from north to south on the easy inclination of a hill; the church standing on the highest ground, at the north end of the town. There are many good houses in this place, built in the modern stile. The climate is good, and the soil fertile . . . This being a manor of the bishop’s, we find few instances in the records of freehold tenements: The greatest part of this district is held under church tenures.”
St. Mary’s (Anglo-Saxon tower, medieval nave, south transept and chancel)
Friends’ Meeting House (1671 with rebuilding in 1902)
St. Mary’s Vicarage (1762)
Norton Hall (18th century)
Fox Almshouses (1897)
There are more than fifty grade II listed buildings in Norton.
A Few Lost Buildings
Norton Mill (A mill at Norton is mentioned in 1183) Largely destroyed in an air raid in 1940. Fully demolished in 1947.
Blakiston Hall (17th c.) demolished in the 1970s.
Norton House (Early 18th century) demolished c.1934.
Ragworth Hall (19th c.) demolished in the 1960s.
Board School (1872) demolished c. 1979.
Norton Station (1877) demolished in 1965.
The Avenue Cinema (c.1930) demolished in 2005.
William Newton School (1939) became an education centre: demolished in 2015.
Blakeston School (1973) demolished in 2013
Some People of Note
Bernard Gilpin (1516-1584) A theologian and preacher from Westmorland who became vicar of Norton in 1552. He is known as “The Apostle of the North”.
Jeremiah Moore (1696-1753) Having survived a period of slavery in Turkey, Moore came into a fortune and became known as a generous benefactor.
Polycarpus Taylor (1706-1781) A captain in the Royal Navy who saw action against the French in the West Indies. He was promoted to Rear Admiral and retired to live in Norton.
Christopher Middleton ( ? -1770) Born in Newton Bewley, he became a captain in the Hudson’s Bay Company and later in the Royal Navy. He searched for the North-West Passage. He died in norton.
Robert Gregory (1734-1774) Captain of H.M.S. Scarborough who saw action off Bermuda in 1768.
Anthony White (1781-1849) A surgeon, born in Norton, who became chief surgeon of the Westminster Hospital.
Thomas Jefferson Hogg (1792-1862) He was born in Norton House and spent his later years there. He became a close friend and biographer of the poet Shelley.
Norma Shaw (1937-2009) From Norton Bowling Club she went on to become world outdoor bowls champion in 1981 and world indoor bowls champion in 1997. Gary Pallister (1965- ) A footballer who grew up in Norton. He played for Middlesbrough and was transferred to Manchester United in 1989, breaking the record for a fee between two British clubs. He played for England 22 times.
The Hearth Tax of 1666
According to the tax returns for 1666, 56 houses in Norton had one or two hearths, 9 had three hearths and 1 had 4 hearths. The highest taxpayers were “Will Kitching” (5 hearths), “Mr. Davison” (7 hearths) and “Sr Thomas Davisson” (17 hearths).
No data has survived for houses that were exempt from the tax.
See “Hearth Tax List for South Durham Lady Day 1666” (ed.) J.C.Howe for Cleveland Family History Society.
According to Whellan’s Directory of 1856, Norton “comprises a post office, rural police station, an extensive tannery and two breweries. Near the village there are two furnaces in course of erection by the West Hartlepool Iron Company. A number of market gardeners around the village supply it and the town of Stockton with the produce.” The directory lists 12 market gardeners, 8 joiners, 5 builders, 2 smiths, 3 millers, 2 brewers, 8 inns or taverns, 5 grocers, 4 butchers, 2 milliners, 4 tailors and 9 shoemakers. This does not seem, to be a complete record. According to Ward’s Directory of 1936, there were still 5 grocers and 4 butchers, along with some additional shops, including 5 confectioners, 3 chemists, 3 drapers, 2 booksellers, a newsagent and a watchmaker.
A Selection of Dates
1083 Norton church became collegiate.
1099 Ranulph Flambard became Bishop of Durham. During his time as bishop, King Henry I granted a weekly market to Norton.
1184 Norton market was established by charter.
1235 The church of Norton was granted to Tynemouth Priory.
1314 The Bishop of Durham granted an indulgence for contributors to a bridge and causeway between Norton and Billingham.
1322 Norton was attacked by the Scottish army as part of a series of Scottish raids in Northern England.
1496 St. Mary’s church was said to be in need of extensive repairs.
1574 Norton parish register commenced.
1662 The vicar of Norton was deprived of his living for refusing to take the oath required by the Act of Uniformity.
1671 The Friends Meeting House came into use.
1712 Stockton was created as a parish. Previously it had been part of the parish of Norton.
1770 John Wesley preached at Norton.
1780 Norton Tannery was established around this date.
1808 The Vicar built a Sunday School, which was attended by more than 100 children every week.
1824 The Wesleyan chapel was dedicated.
1830 About this time, Durham Road in Stockton took over as the main road to Durham, but the main road to Sunderland still ran along Norton High Street.
1837 The Clarence Pottery opened at Mount Pleasant around this time.
1838 The National School was built.
1847 Norton Cricket Club was formed.
1856 A great bell was cast at Warner’s Foundry in Norton, to be hung at the Houses of Parliament. It was replaced by Big Ben.
1872 The Board School was built with places for 490 children.
1874 Horse trams began running between Norton and Thornaby. In 1888 steam trams were introduced.
1877 Norton station was built. It closed in 1964.
1879 The foundry closed.
1897 The Fox Almshouses were built
1898 Electric trams began running to Stockton, Middlesbrough and North Ormesby.
1899 The Stockton Stone and Concrete Company was established on the old foundry site.
1913 Norton village was incorporated into the borough of Stockton.
The church of St. Michael and All Angels was consecrated.
1929 Red House School was established.
1930 The Avenue cinema was built around this date. It closed in 1955.
1931 The “O” bus service to North Ormesby replaced the trams.
1938 The Moderne cinema was opened.
1939 The William Newton School for Girls on Junction Road was opened. It later became the Norton
1960 Norton station was closed. It was demolished five years later.
1965 The Moderne cinema closed and the building became Club Fiesta which itself closed in 1976.
1967 The Stockton Stone and Concrete Company ceased production.
1975 The A19 was re-routed through Billingham Bottoms. Previously it ran along Norton Road.
1985 An Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Norton was excavated.
1990 Norton Baptist Church was established in the Education Centre.
1998 Norton won the North Yorkshire and South Durham cricket championship for the eleventh time.
2000 Norton Hall was converted into flats and the tannery was demolished.
2004 The Destiny Centre was opened in the former Moderne cinema building.
2005 An extension was built on to the parish church to improve the facilities.
2015 Norton library re-opened after a period of refurbishment.
This list of dates was compiled from “The Local Records of Stockton and Neighbourhood” by Thomas Richmond (1868) and other secondary sources.
Suggested Further Reading
“Around Stockton and Norton” Paul Menzies (2011)
“Picturesque Norton” A.Betteney (2015)
“Pre-Enclosure Norton-on-Tees” D.W.Pattenden, C.T.L.H.S. Bulletin no.7 (1969)
“Norton-on-Tees in 1951” R.Humphreys C.T.L.H.S. Bulletin no.25 (1974)