History of The Riding FarmHistory of The Riding Farm

History of The Riding Farm

This historical background is compiled from secondary sources and summarises primary sources, and is intended as a brief summary of historical developments around the study area, which may be of significance to the development site itself.

Early Medieval (c. 410 AD- 1066): the name of Kibblesworth is thought to be of Saxon origin (Dixon, McMillan and Turnbull nd, 1), so some kind of settlement must have existed in the area at this time. In medieval times, Lamesley was part of the domains of the Prince Bishops of the Palatine of Durham. There is no evidence, as yet, for earlier activity in the vicinity of the development site.

Later Medieval (c. AD 1066- AD 1485): The first direct reference to the name Kibblesworth comes in 1180, when Roger de Kibblesworth surrendered his lands at Wolviston to the Prior of Durham (ibid). When Alexander de Kibblesworth died in 1368, he held in the Parish of Lamesley, the Upper Hall at Kibblesworth with half the vill held from the See of Durham. John de Scrutevill held the other half of the manor of Kibblesworth. In 1409, another John de Scrutevill died, seized of half the manor and the watermill of Kibblesworth, (thought to be the present site of Moor Mill Farm), at which time the Manor was valued at £10 (Parson and White 1826, 167).

Interestingly, the first reference for a settlement in the vicinity of Riding Farm itself, appears to be in 1365, when "Thomas de Urpath held the manor of Urpeth, except 5 husbandry lands and a new assart called the Rydding, which were held by Alexander de Kibblesworth and Idoma de Urpeth, by homage, fealty and sixty shillings rent" (Surtees 1820, 191). It is referred to in Hatfield's Survey and in 1474, it, and the manor of Urpeth, was the property of John Parke Esq. (Greenwell 1856,82).

Post-Medieval (c. AD 1485- 1900): at the end of the 15th century the Manor became the property of the Hedworths, and in 1640, it, and messuage of Riding, were granted in trust for Robert Bewicke Esq., mayor of Newcastle (ibid). John Speed shows Kibblesworth in his plan of England, 1611, but calls it 'Kibbleworth'.

The area seemed to have remained largely agricultural, with acts of enclosure affecting the area in the 17th and 18th centuries. Urpeth Moor was divided in 1796 (Whellan 1856, 877). The Broad Moor around Kibblesworth was divided in 1672 (Surtees 1820, 217), and before that date open fields abutted the great waste of Blackburn Fell to the west. Several plans of Blackburn Fell, dating to the late 18th and early 19th centuries, presumably relating to the Act of Inclosure for the area, stop just short of the buildings at Riding Farm, and show the adjacent area to the west, north and east they do depict the land the buildings occupy as belonging to Caverley Bewicke Esq. Research suggests that the lands belonged to the Bewicke family from the 17th century,and into the 19th century.

Whilst the villages themselves were affected by the industrial revolution, with the emergence of new industry (at Kibblesworth records exist for mining activity from as early as 1695 though the colliery itself was established c.1830 At Urpeth three iron forges were in existence by the 1850s, managed by Hawks and Crawshay (Fordyce 1857, 622), as well as a Paper Mill run by Messrs. Hudson to make brown paper, and mining activity . The agricultural hinterland (including Riding Farm) appears to have continued much as before. Even Kibblesworth village retained an agricultural character despite the increase in mining activity, well into the late 19th century, "there were still farms in the middle of the village, and the Old Hall" (Seeley 1973, 209). In addition "much of the housing was old cottage property with low-pitched red-tiled roofs".

Greenwood's plan of 1820 provides the only evidence for Riding Farm being a separate settlement to Urpeth and Kibblesworth. The plan shows three buildings, and denotes them as 'Riding'. Bell's plan of the coalfields of County Durham in 1843 shows that the lands were still held by the Bewicke family, this time a C.B. Bewicke Esqr., and details of the buildings are not shown.

The earliest plan to show the buildings in any detail is the First Edition of theOrdnance Survey mapping. The 25-inch edition map, of 1858, shows Riding Farm just to the north of the road. The road itself retains earlier character, in the form of a dog-legged widened segment, typical of medieval settlement centres. A central pond still survived by this date. The farmhouse exists to the south-east of the agricultural buildings, which themselves form, roughly, the shape of the number '6'. By 1896, a rectangular extension has been added to the southern part of the centre of the outbuildings, and a further addition has been made to the southeast face of the farmhouse building.

Modern (1900- present): by 1920 an 'L' shaped building has replaced the earlier square building in the northern courtyard, and a further building, quite separate to the main outbuildings, has been constructed at the far north-western extreme of the farm. Unfortunately none of the Trade Directories cited 'Riding Farm' itself, so 19th and 20th century owners and proprietors could not be ascertained (e.g. Parson and White 1828; Whellan 1856; Kelly 1925; Kelly's Directories Ltd 1938). As the extant farmhouse and agricultural buildings were in existence by 1858, except some alterations, one dating to between 1858 and 1898, and the others to between 1898 and 1920, unfortunately, no information on original plans of the buildings could be located from Building Control Plans. Although they do exist for the Chester le Street area (though only in the parishes of Birtley and Lamesley), the plans date to between 1955 and 1974, with the index register covering buildings constructed in the parishes between 1964 and 1974 (TWAS RD/CS). This is far too recent a date to provide plans for the construction of the buildings within the development site.

The Johnson family obtained the tenancy of Riding Farm in 1939, and subsequently bought the property in 1955. During the Second World War, the economy of the farm was 50% arable and 50% pasture, however after the war the economy changed to 55% arable and 45% pasture. Large agricultural buildings were constructed to the north-west of the farmstead in around 1964 , after which time the gin-gang and some of the other older structures were demolished. Up until its demolition, the gin-gang has been used to house bullocks. Pigs formed a major part of the economy of the farm in the middle of the 20th century; these were sold in markets at Newcastle. Riding Farm currently consists of 220 acres of arable and grassland, and at Low Urpeth, also held by the Johnson family, there is a further 220 acres. Around 250 sheep were also kept, although these have now gone.