[i] South Bedburn, in the township of Hamsterley, Bishop Auckland, is situated in a pleasant location on the north side of the Bedburn Beck (Beda’s Beck), from which the name of the township is possibly derived. Bedburn Hall today was built circa 1900, by Fogg Elliot. Also in the locality stands Old Bedburn Hall, a Georgian farmhouse of an earlier date. The exact location of the structure known as Bedburn Hall in the 17th century is not clear.
According to Surtees, Bedburn Hall was converted to the purpose of a saw mill and was the property of J. Fogg Elliot [ii]
In the past, Bedburn was well known for its manufacture of edge tools and agricultural implements. The remains of a cotton mill in South Bedburn are believed to be on the site of a former 14th century fulling mill.
Bishop Hatfield’s survey, 1377-1380 shows the manor of Bedburn Hall in the possession of Robert Emmerson. It passed on to the Eures, then to the Leatons. In the middle of the 17th century a branch of the Blackett family resided here. Jane Blackett of Bedburn Hall, the widow of Christopher Blackett of Wylam, by her Will dated 13 Dec 1677 appointed her half-sister Rose Blackett as executrix. Jane and Christopher’s children, Christopher, Edward, Alice, Ann and Margaret are also mentioned. [iii] In 1642, Edward Blackett held tenements in Bedburn. In 1702, tythes of Bedburn were conveyed from John to Edward Blackett.
High and Low Burnlea Row/Bomley Rawe are described by Surtees as being farmhouses situated to the north of Bedburn Beck. “On the 13th Sept.1610, Edward Blackett, yeoman, obtained a pardon for acquiring from William Lord Eure 4 messuages, 4 cottages, 6 tofts, 6 gardens, 6 orchards, 80 acres of arable land, 140 tofts of meadow, 240 of pasture, 4 of wood and 160 of moor at Bomley Rawe. The edifice known as Low Burnlea was recently the only remaining thatched house inhabited in the parish.”[iv] Edward Blackett (d.1628) of Bomley Rawe, Will dated 6 Nov 1627.
“The Shipleys”, an extract from the Surtees Parish History, mentions the various Shipley farms. “The devolution of the farms known as the “Shipleys” is somewhat obscure as they are called by various names in the palatinate records such as The Vill of Shipley, The Manor of Shipley, High Shipley, Low Shipley, East Shipley, West Shipley and Shipley Moat, which latter doubtless once enclosed a medieval house and is known as Shipley Farm. They are all situated on the promontory enclosed by the Wear and Bedburn Beck”.[v] Some clarification is given in a 1767 document held at Durham University whereby William Blackett mortgaged and demised to Rev. Henry Bland, D.D., a prebendary of Durham Cathedral, lands etc. including “East or High Shipley” and “West or Low Shipley” (which included a manor house). However, there are today (2012) separate properties known as West Shipley Farm and Low Shipley, so some doubt remains.
Research shows the Blacketts as having several holdings in the Shipleys, the earliest being in the mid 16th century. Surtees in his Parish History mentions Richard Blackett de Shipley in 1598 as being seized of his holding there, and in 1653 Henry Blackett of Shipley, yeoman, conveyed tithes at High Wham to Anthony Hodgson. The 1851 census shows Thomas Blackett farming 160 acres at Low Shipley. By the time of the 1861 census, Thomas had died and his wife Isabella is shown as a widow and proprietor of Low Shipley. In 1881, John and his brother, sons of the above Thomas and Isabella, are joint farmers of 160 acres at Low Shipley. By the time of 1891 census it was in the occupation of Charles Proud.
On 28 Dec 1516 Rowland Tempest, the father-in-law of Nicholas Blackett (born abt. 1500), settled his lands etc. in Green Shipley, East and West Shipley, Denton and Hunwick for the use of his wife Anne [Radcliffe] in full recompense of her dower. We have, however, found no evidence that the Shipleys were acquired by the Blacketts by inheritance from Anne or her daughter Alice/Alyson, the wife of Nicholas.
[ii] Surtees “Parish History, Hamsterley”, page 36.
[iii] The Will of Jane Blackett, transcribed by John Burnell.
[iv] “The History of the Parishes of Hamsterley and Lynesack and Softley”, by Brigadier General H. Conyers Surtees, page 37.
[v] As footnote 4, page 30.