Durham, Ancient See of

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The Ancient See of Durham was a northern English diocese (Lat. Dunelmensis ) founded in 995 when Bishop Ealdhun, whose diocesan seat had been at Chester-le-Street, transferred the body of the venerated Northumbrian St. cuthbert from his cathedral there to nearby Durham city. The area had originally formed part of the See of Lindisfarne (established 635), but after the sack of the Abbey of lindisfarne (793) and further attacks by Danish invaders, the monks had removed the shrine of Cuthbert, and hence the diocesan seat, to Chester-le-Street (883). The newly founded See of Durham withstood Scottish attacks but yielded to the Normans under wil liam i (the Conqueror), whose appointment of Bishop Walcher (1071) initiated a series of important reforms, culminating in the replacement of the cathedral's chapter of secular canons by benedictines under his successor (1083). This made for a more stable diocesan organization and encouraged an enduring literary and artistic renaissance. The revival, however, carried for its bishops, who were made counts palatine, the added responsibility of the diocese's civil jurisdiction. Being in border territory, the bishops and the palatinate were often involved in conflict with either the Scottish or the English crown.

The present impressive cathedral at Durham was begun by Bishop William of St. Carilef in 1093 and was considerably enlarged by his successors, a number of whom, such as Hugh du Puiset (115395), Anthony bek (12841311), richard of bury (133345), and Thomas Hatfield (134581), were outstanding as administrators, statesmen, or men of letters. Though a stronghold of Benedictine monasticism, with its own liturgical rite, the diocese was also well supplied with houses of most of the other religious and mendicant orders, besides hospitals and collegiate churches. The see was reformed under Elizabeth in 1559, the first Anglican bishop being James Pilkington.

Bibliography: Symeonis Monachi opera omnia, ed. t. arnold, 2 v. (Rerum Britannicarum medii aevi scriptores, 244 v. (London 185896; repr. New York 1964), ordinarily called Rolls Series, 188285). t. d. hardy, ed., Registrum Palatinum Dunelmense, 4 v. (ibid. 62; 187378). d. s. boutflower, ed., Fasti Dunelmenses (Surtees Society 139; Durham 1926). r. surtees, The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham, 4 v. (London 181640). The Victoria History of the County of Durham, ed. w. page (London 1905) v. 2, 3. w. a. pantin, Durham Cathedral (London 1948) c. j. stranks, This Sumptuous Church: The Story of Durham Cathedral (London 1973). r. w. j. austin, A Guide to the Pre-Reformation Cathedral Church & Abbey of Durham, (Durham 1986). d. c. d. pocock and r. billingham, St. Cuthbert and Durham Cathedral: A Celebration, 2nd rev. ed. (Durham 1995). s. pedley, The Cathedral Church of Christ and Blessed Mary the Virgin in Durham (Norwich 1997).

[l. macfarlane/eds.]