Eglingham Parish History
The Parish has a long and fascinating history with the earliest evidence of human activity in the area in the Neolithic period (4000BC – 2200BC) though more permanent settlements wouldn’t have been around until the Bronze Age (2200BC – 700BC). Little is known about where people lived in the parish, but they have left many reminders of their time living here, with a number of stone cist burial sites, and some burial cairns. Stock enclosures, defended homesteads with hut circles and some old Hill Forts are thought to date from 700 BC to 75 AD. There is little evidence of Roman activity, though they are believed to have been in the region. Most of the early remains are on the moorland but later the centres of population moved off the moors, though these were still used for grazing animals and quarrying for millstones and house building. Records go back to the 13th century for all the settlements and in medieval times the area was quite densely populated with small villages and hamlets such as Harehope, South and North Charlton, Shipley, East and West Ditchburn and Eglingham. Little remains on the same site from this period other than parts of Eglingham Hall, Eglingham Mill (now the village hall) and the Church of St. Maurice in Eglingham. The early Churches in South Charlton and North Charlton are no longer standing, though South Charlton had a new Church built in the 19th Century.
These were also times of warfare and unrest in the border region of England and, because of this, a tower house was built at South Charlton and at East Ditchburn for the protection of the villagers. Feuds between border families continued into the 16th and early 17th centuries and those who could afford it built defensive homes called bastles to protect themselves, such as The Old School House at South Charlton. The Lords of Ditchburn and then the Dukes of Northumberland owned North and South Charlton until the 20th Century. Most of the houses and farms we see today were built from the early 19th Century onwards. South Charlton was swept away and rebuilt on the opposite side of the road from the original and has now recently expanded to the north. Eglingham was a divided village from the 16th century with one half owned by the Ogle family and the other by the Tankervilles. The Milvains who had bought Eglingham Hall in the early 1900s united these two halves in 1913.
Although there were always a number of privately owned houses it wasn’t until the 1970s and 1980s that many of the properties were sold by the estate. Eglingham is now a Conservation Area with strict guidelines for new buildings. A number of the existing buildings and other features in the parish are Grade II listed and all mature trees are protected in Eglingham.
Both villages had blacksmiths until relatively recently and Eglingham had a Post Office until 1989. The mill in Eglingham was a water driven corn mill until 1913 when it was destroyed in a fire and then became the village hall.
South Charlton also boasts a village hall which is in the former school, which closed in the 1970s.
There was once a direct road connecting Eglingham with South Charlton and the road from Alnwick to Eglingham was a toll road. Roads and bridges have now been realigned, improved, and are no longer maintained by individual landowners as they were in the 19th century. There is a widespread and wonderful network of footpaths throughout the parish, which reflect the importance of communication between farms and settlements in days gone by. The Tankerville Arms in Eglingham has a long history and continues to provide meals and refreshments to residents, visitors and travellers. The mounting steps and water trough on the opposite side of the road are a reminder of the main transport used in the 19th century.
The Industrial Revolution and mechanisation of farming would have brought further changes. Agricultural workers had to become more mobile as farmer’s needs changed, and now very few are needed to work on the land. Houses built for the workers are now the prized residences of people who chose to move into the country even when working in more distant towns and for many the area is seen as an ideal place to retire.
Land use has also changed greatly from the early stone clearances on the moorland to rig and furrow cultivation, which gave way to modern day methods with combine harvesters, balers and muck spreaders. After the Acts of Enclosure the field boundaries of hedges and dry stoned walls were extended with access onto the moorland for the tenants. Fields are now larger and there are a number of small conifer plantations.
Both South Charlton and Eglingham have had churches since the early Middle Ages or earlier and there are records of a chapel at North Charlton and a leper hospital at Harehope. The Vicar at Eglingham is also the Vicar at South Charlton and the former vicarage in South Charlton is now a care home for the elderly, Grovewood House
Modern technology has also made an ingress into the parish. Broadband connections are available to most, for superfast Internet access. There is some (patchy) reception for most mobile phone networks and satellite TV is an option for those with poor TV reception.
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