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Durham

Durham was one of the last shires to be fully incorporated into the English political and legal system, because for centuries it was a palatinate under the jurisdiction of the bishop. It did not receive parliamentary representation until as late as the 17th cent. But Cromwell gave it representation in the 1650s and in this rare instance royalists after the Restoration were willing to build with Cromwell's bricks. The county sent two knights to Westminster in 1675 and the city of Durham two burgesses in 1678.

Geographically the county is of two halves and three rivers. The western half is hilly, running up into the Pennines, the eastern half flat with a harsh and somewhat unattractive coastline. It has always been mining country, with iron and lead in the hills and coal in the coastal plain. The northern boundary, dividing it from Northumberland, is the river Tyne and its tributary the Derwent; the southern is the Tees, flowing through Barnard Castle and separating the county from Westmorland and Yorkshire; through the middle flows the Wear, from Bishop Auckland to Durham, and on through Chester-le-Street to Sunderland.

In Roman times the area formed part of the territory of the Brigantes. After the Saxon occupation, it was part of Bernicia, the northern half of the great kingdom of Northumbria. The county owed its distinctiveness and pre-eminence largely to one man, St Cuthbert. Camden noted in the 16th cent. that the shire was often referred to as the Land of St Cuthbert or his patrimony. Cuthbert died in 687 on the Farne Islands and was first buried on Holy Island or Lindisfarne, of which he had been bishop. In 875 the monks were forced by Viking raids to abandon the place and, taking Cuthbert's coffin with them, established themselves at Chester-le-Street, which in turn became a bishopric. In 995, in the face of further raids, they fled once more, taking the remains first to Ripon, then to Durham, where it has remained. There it attracted the great wealth on which the power of the later bishops depended. The name—Dun-holm, the island on the hill—reflected the nature of the place, a rocky promontory, almost completely surrounded by a loop of the river Wear, and offering an ideal defensive position.

The region was not included in the Domesday survey and offered fierce resistance to the Norman Conquest. When finally it was subdued, the bishop was given palatinate powers, partly to deal with the local population, partly to resist Scottish incursions. The castle at Durham was begun by William in 1072, blocking the neck of the peninsula: the great cathedral, replacing an earlier 10th-cent. one, was started in 1093.

The palatinate powers exercised by the bishops were formidable. They included full ownership of land; the right to levy taxes; the power to raise troops; full jurisdiction, including capital offences, together with the power of pardon; the claim on property of traitors and outlaws. Such sweeping powers led to repeated clashes. Anthony Bek, one of the most powerful of the ‘prince-bishops’, was at odds with Edward I over military obligations against the Scots and with the archbishop of York over ecclesiastical jurisdiction. But by an Act of 1536 in the reign of Henry VIII, the legal powers were removed, and the remaining palatinate privileges were suppressed in 1836 during the episcopate of van Mildert.

Although the coal measures had been worked since the 13th cent., Durham remained thinly populated. Some of the market towns and ports had a local prosperity but none, with the exception of Durham, was given representation in Parliament. Defoe visited the county in the 1720s and was not greatly impressed: Darlington had ‘nothing remarkable but dirt’, and Chester-le-Street was ‘an old dirty, thorough-fare town’. At the first census in 1801, the population was still only 149,000. But the industrial, mining, and shipbuilding developments of the 19th cent. acted as a magnet, and by 1891 the county had well over 1 million people. Though 21st county in size, it was 7th in population. Darlington had grown from a town of 5,000 to 36,000; Gateshead from 8,000 to 85,000; Hartlepool from 1,000 to 15,000; South Shields from 8,000 to 97,000; Stockton from 4,000 to 51,000; and Sunderland, which established itself as a major industrial centre of shipbuilding, pottery, and glass, from 12,000 to 156,000.

The need to find cheaper ways of carrying coal made Durham the birthplace of railways. Well before the 19th cent., the county was networked with rail tracks, usually using wooden rails and horses. The Causey Arch, near Stanley, built by the ‘grand alliance’ of coal-owners in 1727 to carry their plate-way over a deep ravine, has a claim to be the first railway viaduct. The Stockton and Darlington railway, laid out by George Stephenson, which opened in 1825 was the first to convey public freight, with passengers an afterthought. Timothy Hackworth's locomotive works at Shildon opened in 1833 and Stephenson's Locomotion No. 1 is preserved at Darlington. The Brandling Junction Railway between Sunderland and Gateshead opened in 1839 and the main NER line from Darlington to Gateshead via Penshaw and Washington was opened in 1844, with a branch to Durham.

Nineteenth-cent. prosperity was not maintained and the collapse of shipbuilding, mining, and the steel industry led to massive unemployment. The industrial base of the county has diversified, with chemicals at Billingham, car manufacture at Sunderland, and light industry in the Team valley south of Newcastle. In the 1990s the new universities of Northumbria and Sunderland joined the 19th-cent. establishments of Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne.

The county lost areas in the north to Tyne and Wear and in the south-east to Cleveland under the Local Government Act of 1972. In the local government reorganization after the Banham Commission report of 1994, Durham continued as a county, but with unitary authority status given to Darlington, Gateshead, Hartlepool, South Tyneside, Stockton, and Sunderland.

J. A. Cannon

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Durham (city, United States)

Durham (dûr´ăm), city (1990 pop. 136,611), seat of Durham co., N central N.C., in the Piedmont area; inc. 1867. Once a major tobacco and textile center, Durham is a research and education center. Manufacturers include medical, computer, electronic, and telecommunications equipment; plastic, paper, and lumber products; and aircraft components. The area was settled c.1750. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston surrendered nearby to Gen. William T. Sherman during the Civil War. After the war the tobacco industry began with James B. Duke as the leading manufacturer. Economic growth was spurred with the establishment (1959) of the Research Triangle Park, in the triangular area between Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh, which utilizes the concentration of university research talent in those three cities. Durham is the seat of Duke Univ., North Carolina Central Univ., and Durham Technical Community College. Of interest are the Sarah P. Duke Memorial Gardens and the Children's Nature Museum. The American Dance Festival is held in the city each summer.

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Durham (town, England)

Durham, town (1991 pop. 38,105), county seat of Durham, NE England, on the sides of a hill nearly encircled by the Wear River. The town's small factories produce organs and carpets. Noteworthy is the castle (1072), now occupied by part of the Univ. of Durham (founded 1832). In 995 the relics of St. Cuthbert were brought to Durham (then Dunholme), and a church was built as his shrine. The present cathedral, begun on the same site in 1093, is considered the finest example of Norman architecture in the country. It contains the tomb of the Venerable Bede (d. 735).

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Durham

Durham City and administrative district on the River Wear, ne England; the county town of Co. Durham. Founded by monks in the 10th century, it became a defensive outpost against the Scots and the seat of prince-bishops. Its cathedral (1093) contains the tomb of the Venerable Bede, and an 11th-century castle is now part of the university (founded 1832). Durham is is home to the Gulbenkian Museum of Oriental Art and Archaeology (1960). Industries: textiles, carpet-weaving, engineering. Pop. (1997 est.) 91,400.

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Durham

Durham. See Dereham.

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"Durham." A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Durham

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