Visit Durham and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Durham, County Durham.
Durham cathedral was the first in northern Europe to be covered with stone-ribbed vaulting and it has the earliest pointed transverse arches in England. It was also the first European church to decorate the aisle walls with an arcade of arches. The nave is lined with massive compound piers alternating with circular ones which are deeply carved in geometric designs. The round pillars have an equal height and circumference — 22 ft.
There are few monuments because of a long-held rule that no one should be buried in the shrine of St Cuthbert. The first layman to lie here was Ralph Lord Neville, commander of the English army which defeated the Scots at Neville's Cross at the edge of the city in 1346. There is also the tomb of his son, John, who gave the cathedral the splendid stone screen behind the high altar. The 107 statues that once adorned it and all the stained glass were destroyed either in the Dissolution or during the Commonwealth. The cathedral was used by Puritan soldiers to hold Scots prisoners.
The choir stalls are fine llth-century work as is the font at the west end of the nave. In front of the font is a line of Frosterley marble, the nearest women were allowed to get to the altar. Bishop Hatfield's throne of the 14th century is the highest known. He prepared his own tomb under it.
From the south aisle a door leads to the cloisters and the monks' dormitory, a great timbered hall 194 ft by 39 ft where some of the cathedral's prized possessions can be seen. They include relics of St Cuthbert, illuminated manuscripts and a collection of crosses.
The keep of the Norman castle was rebuilt in 1840 to house students and the moat has been filled in. Here the visitor can see the tiny Norman crypt chapel, Bishop Cosin's black staircase of 1662, the great ball of 1284 and the 15th-century kitchens. The castle was the bishop's official residence and the key to the town's early defences. Durham University was created as the third university in England by Act of Parliament in 1832, and the castle was turned over to University College by Bishop van Mildert in 1836. He was the last count palatine. New university colleges, now totalling 14, have grown up East and South of the peninsula. The expansion of the university in this historical setting has been a challenge to architects and one of their most successful creations is the bridge (by Ove Arup) from the Palace Green across the river to Dunelm House, on the far bank. The university uses the Victorian Shire Hall in Old Elvet for administrative headquarters.
The old city centre is now the traffic-choked market place where municipal offices and banks predominate. In Saddler Street leading out of the market place, the world's first ground mustard was prepared. Production of Durham mustard has now ended. The North and South Bailey which run from the market place along the east side of the cathedral still have many 18th-century town houses now used by the university. There are good l8th-century houses in Old Elvet and South Street.
From the village of Shincliffe, 1 mile South East of the city, a beautiful view of the cathedral and castle can be had from the bank top across the Wear valley. The walk to the village passes an old gravel working where in 1940 remains of a Roman farm were found, confirming for the first time the activities of Roman civilians in the county. The village itself is pleasant, with trees and a roadside green.
Nearby cities: Sunderland
Nearby towns: Consett, Chester-le-Street, Crook, Hartlepool, Houghton-le-Spring, Peterlee, Seaham, Spennymoor, Washington
Nearby villages: Bowburn, Brancepeth, Brandon, Coxhoe, Croxdale, Edmondsley, Esh, Langley Park, Leamside, Low Moorsley, New Brancepeth, Pittington, Plawsworth, Quarrington Hill, Sacriston, Sheepscar, Sherburn, Sherburn Hill, Shincliffe, Sunderland Bridge, Ushaw Moor, West Rainton, Witton Gilbert
Have you decided to visit Durham or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Durham bed and breakfast (a Durham B&B or Durham b and b)
- a Durham guesthouse
- a Durham hotel (or motel)
- a Durham self-catering establishment, or
- other Durham accommodation