Tynemouth Parish, 1848
TYNEMOUTH (St. Oswin), a parish, a newly-enfranchised borough, and the head of a union, in the E. division of Castle ward, S. division of Northumberland, 8½ miles (E.N.E.) from Newcastle; comprising the several townships of Chirton, Cullercoates, Monkseaton, Murton, Preston, North Shields, and Whitley; and containing 27,249 inhabitants, of whom 11,890 are in Tynemouth township. This place derives its name from its situation at the mouth of the river Tyne; its fortress was by the Saxons called Pcnbal Crag, or "the head of the rampart on the rock." From a votive altar dedicated to Jupiter by Aelius Rufus, praefect of the 4th cohort of the Lingones, and from a tablet inscribed with the name of Caius Julius Maximianus as the founder of a temple, both which were discovered here in 1783, Tynemouth is supposed to have been the site of a Roman station. The truth of this opinion, however, so far from being corroborated by any collateral evidence, is rather contradicted by the strong probability that these relics of Roman antiquity, together with other materials for building, were removed from South Shields on the opposite bank of the river, for the first monastery of stone at this place. The earliest authentic record connected with the history of Tynemouth, relates to the erection of a small church and convent of wood by Edwin, King of Northumbria, about the year 625, in which his daughter Rosella assumed the veil, and which in 634 was rebuilt with stone by his successor, Oswald, by whom it was dedicated to St. Mary. This establishment was repeatedly plundered by the Danes during the eighth century. In 833, a party of those invaders attempting to land, were defeated and driven back to their ships; but, returning frequently during that and the following century, and renewing their depredations, they finally destroyed the buildings.
The monastery was rebuilt from its foundation by Tosti, Earl of Northumberland, who endowed it with considerable revenues; and in 1074 was given, with all its possessions, by his successor Waltheof, to the monastery of Jarrow, and with that institution became subordinate to Durham Abbey. In 1090, it was taken from the abbey by Robert Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland, who amply endowed it for Benedictine monks, as a cell to the monastery of St. Alban's, in the county of Hertford. Four years afterwards, Malcolm III., King of Scotland, and his son Prince Edward, both killed at the siege of Alnwick Castle on the same day, were interred in Tynemouth monastery, which had obtained a high degree of reputation for its sanctity, and become a place of sepulture for the most illustrious families. In 1095, Earl Mowbray, entering into a conspiracy against William Rufus, converted the monastery into a castle, which he strongly fortified: after a siege of two months it was taken by storm, and Mowbray, making his escape by stealth, took refuge at Bambrough Castle; yet not thinking himself safe, he fled for sanctuary into the church here, whence he was dragged by force, and sent prisoner to London, William Rufus confirmed to St. Alban's Abbey the priory of Tynemouth and all its possessions, which, in 1121, the monks of Durham made an unsuccessful attempt to recover. In 1138, David, King of Scotland, who then occupied Newcastle with his army, issued a charter dated at Norham, granting security and protection to the prior and monks; to whom also, in 1189, Richard I. gave several privileges and immunities. King John, in 1205, exempted them from the duty of cornage.
In the year 1244, a peace was concluded between the King of England and the King of Scotland, through the mediation of the prior, to whom, in 1271, Henry III. granted a charter of liberties and free customs; and in 1296 the prior commenced the construction of a harbour in the vicinity with a view to establish a port. In this, however, he was opposed by the burgesses of Newcastle, who, claiming an exclusive right to trade on the river Tyne, commenced a suit in the court of king's bench, which was subsequently decided against the prior by the lords of parliament. Edward I., after his victory over the Scots at Falkirk, remained for some time at Tynemouth, and in the year 1299 conferred upon the prior the privilege of holding all pleas, including those of the crown, by his own justices, who had paramount jurisdiction within his liberty. In 1303, while Edward was on his last expedition into Scotland, his queen resided at the priory till his return; and in 1307, the prior, in pursuance of the privilege granted by that monarch, caused a pillory to be erected in the village. Charters of privilege were also granted by Edward II. in 1316; and in the following year Sir William de Middleton and Walter de Seleby, who, at the head of a fanatic band, had committed depredations on the priory, were taken prisoners, and sent to London, where they were executed. In 1322, the queen of Edward II. resided here for some time. In 1347, the prior made Edward III. a loan of 20 marks towards the preparations for the siege of Calais; and in 1379, Richard II. granted to the establishment licence to hold certain possessions to the amount of £20 per annum, in order to repair the fortifications of the priory, which at that time was regarded as an important fortress for guarding the river. In 1381, some monks of St. Alban's Abbey, who had been concerned in the insurrection of Wat Tyler, made their escape to this place, where they took sanctuary in the church; and in 1391, Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester, and youngest son of Edward III., spent some days at the priory.
This celebrated establishment continued to flourish till the Dissolution, when it was surrendered, on the 12th January 1539 (30th Henry VIII.), Robert Blakeney, the last prior, receiving a pension of £80, and 15 monks and three novices being allowed smaller pensions. The priory, at the time, was in possession of various manors and lands in the county of Northumberland, and of others in the county of Durham; and its revenue was returned at £706. 10. 8½.: the site and remains were granted by Edward VI., in 1550, to John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, created Duke of Northumberland in the succeeding year, on whose attainder they reverted to the crown. The church continued to be parochial until 1657, when the roof fell in and the building became a ruin: the present parochial church is situated in North Shields. The fortifications and other military works were kept in repair, and the priory has since been regarded solely as a castle or royal garrison.
In 1633, Charles I. visited the castle, which, on the breaking out of the parliamentary war, was put into a complete state of defence by the Earl of Newcastle, who sent a garrison of 300 men and six large pieces of cannon for its defence; trenches were thrown up, and an additional fort was erected at the mouth of the haven. In 1644, the castle was besieged by the Scottish forces under General Leven, to whom, after some time had. elapsed, it surrendered upon terms, the garrison being allowed to march out with all their baggage, on condition of their paying obedience to the parliament. During this siege, the garrison had suffered severely from the plague, which was then ravaging the country, and most of the principal commanders had been obliged to retire from their post. In 1646, the castle was garrisoned by the Scottish troops, by whom it was delivered in 1647 to the parliament, who appointed Sir Arthur Haslerigg governor of Newcastle, and Colonel Lilburn his deputy, governor of Tynemouth. Lilburn soon after declaring for the king, continued for some time to hold possession of the castle, but being besieged by Sir Arthur Haslerigg, it was taken, and the garrison put to the sword; the head was struck off from the dead body of Lilburn, and fixed upon a pole. The castle was then placed by Haslerigg under the custody of General Monk. In 1665, the town-council of Newcastle, upon application by letter from Charles II., voted the sum of £200 to put the castle in repair, and for strengthening the fortifications, on the eve of a Dutch war. In 1783 the castle was resumed by the government, and since that time it has been appropriated as a depôt for arms and military stores, under the superintendence of a governor and lieutenant-governor.
The venerable remains of the priory and castle are romantically situated on the summit of a peninsular rock near the Tyne, rising abruptly from the river with towering grandeur. The approach from the west is by a square gateway tower with exploratory turrets at the angles, beyond which is a second gateway defended by a portcullis, connected with the former by a strong wall on each side, and leading into an open area of nearly seven acres, in which are the strikingly impressive ruins of the ancient priory. These splendid remains consist principally of the eastern portion of the church, of which the east and south walls of the choir, though roofless, are still in tolerable preservation; the deeply-recessed and richly-moulded archway leading to the cloisters, of which some portions elaborately groined are yet remaining; and various parts of the conventual buildings, now converted to other uses. The choir of this once stately and magnificent structure, which appears to have been of the later and richest character of Norman architecture, passing into early English, displays much grandeur of design and elaborate embellishment. The east wall has in the lower portion a noble range of three lofty lancet-shaped windows with deep receding mouldings, the central window being of greater elevation than the others. Above these is a series of smaller windows, of similar character with the exception of the central window, which is oval; and in the centre of the gable, enriched on each side with a series of pointed arches of increasing height, is a triple lancet window, of which only the central compartment is open. The south wall has also three tiers of windows: of these, the lowest range, though of similar character, is less lofty than that of the east end; the second range consists of three lancet-formed windows, above which are two circularheaded windows. The interior abounds with details of great beauty: the lofty, clustered, and banded columns that sustained the roof are embellished with flowered capitals, and, from the stateliness of their elevation between the deeply-recessed and intricately-moulded arches of the lofty windows, convey a striking memorial of the magnificence of this venerable pile. The cloisters were the ancient place of sepulture; the present cemetery of the parishioners was the prior's garden. The gateway tower has been converted into barracks for 250 soldiers. At the east end of the garrison yard is a lighthouse, defended by a double wall extending towards the sea; and on the south of the priory church is a haven, formed by the prior after his attempt to establish a trading port on the Tyne had been frustrated by the burgesses of Newcastle.
The village adjoins the town of North Shields, of which it may be almost considered as a continuation, and consists of one principal and spacious street, in which are several handsome houses, and of a smaller street in nearly a parallel direction. A gas company has been established. Tynemouth is much frequented during the bathing season by visiters, for whose accommodation there are several good inns. In the immediate neighbourhood is a fine sandy beach, affording every facility for bathing, and at Prior's Haven are some baths, erected in 1807; the Bath hotel, built in 1842, presents every convenience, and is connected by a passage with the old Bath inn. The haven is sheltered by an amphitheatre of rocks, and the surrounding scenery abounds with interesting features. At the extremity of a beach called the Long Sand, about a mile north of the village, is Cullercoates, anciently Caller Cots, where is a chalybeate spring, the water of which has been analysed by Dr. Greenhow, and found to resemble the Tonbridge water. It is much resorted to by persons labouring under dyspepsia and other complaints in which it is found beneficial; the spring is received into a stone basin, beyond which it finds a channel through the sands into the sea. The Newcastle and North Shields railway was extended to Tynemouth in 1846. Fairs for cattle are held on the 1st March, and 1st November, or on the last Friday in April, and the first Friday in November. This is a borough, returning one member to parliament under the provisions of the 2nd of William IV., cap. 45, by which the elective franchise is vested in the resident £10 householders of the townships of Tynemouth, North Shields, Chirton, Preston, and Cullercoates, comprising an area of 4,754 acres, with a population of 25,808; the returning officer is appointed by the sheriff. The house of correction here has been lately enlarged.
The parish, which occupies the south-eastern corner of the county, locally termed Tynemouthshire, is about 4½ miles in length, from north to south, and about 3 miles in extreme breadth. It is bounded on the south by the river Tyne, and on the east by the sea; and comprises 5,915 acres, of which 1,300, previously tracts of moorland, were inclosed under acts of parliament in the reign of George III., and brought into cultivation. The surface, though generally level, is in some parts elevated; the soil is strong and fertile, and well adapted for wheat and beans. The district abounds with coal; ironstone is found in moderate quantity, and there are some strata of magnesian limestone, which scarcely occurs in other parts of the county. The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £24. 19. 4., and in the patronage of the Duke of Northumberland, with a net income of £298; impropriators, the duke, and the guardians of the poor. The great tithes of the township of Tynemouth have been commuted for £171. The church, situated in North Shields, was erected in 1668, and consecrated by Bishop Cosin, after the conventual church had fallen into decay; it was built of brick, with a tower of stone, and almost entirely rebuilt of stone in 1792. A church dedicated to the Holy Saviour was erected at a cost of £2500, by subscription, aided by grants from the ChurchBuilding and Diocesan Societies, and was consecrated in August 1841. It is a handsome cruciform structure of stone, in the later English style, with a tower surmounted by a spire, and contains 700 sittings, of which 350 are free. The church is endowed with £700; the vicar officiates, assisted by a curate. In the western part of North Shields is Trinity chapel of ease. The Wesleyans have a meeting-house; and at Cullercoates and in North Shields are places of worship for various denominations. The union of Tynemouth comprises 25 parishes or townships, containing a population of 55,625 persons.
Extract from: A Topographical Dictionary of England comprising the several counties, cities, boroughs, corporate and market towns, parishes, and townships..... 7th Edition, by Samuel Lewis, London, 1848.