DURHAM CITY, a city and municipal and parliamentary borough, and the county town of Durham, England, 256 m. N. by W. from London, on the North Eastern railway. Pop. (1901) 14,679. The nucleus of the site is a narrow, bold peninsula formed by a bend of the river Wear, on which stand the cathedral and the castle. The city, however, extends both E. and W. of this.
The position of the cathedral of St Cuthbert, its west end rising immediately from the steep wooded bank of the river, is surpassed in beauty by no other English cathedral. Its foundation arose from the fact that here, after wandering far over the north of England, the monks of Lindisfarne rested with the body of St Cuthbert, which they had removed from its tomb in fear of Danish invaders. This was in 995. Soon afterwards a church was built by Bishop Ealdhune, and the see was removed hither from Lindisfarne. The peninsula was called Dunholme (Hill Island), which in Norman times was softened to Duresme, whence Durham. It is said that the monks of Lindisfarne, knowing the name of the place where they should find retreat, but ignorant of its situation, were guided hither by a woman searching for her cow, and the bas-relief of a cow on the north wall of the church commemorates this incident. In 1093 Ealdhune's church was rebuilt by Bishop Carilef, who changed the early establishment of married priests into a Benedictine abbey. The grand Norman building in which his designs were carried out remains with numerous additions. The stone-vaulting is particularly noteworthy. The choir contains the earliest work, but Carilef's eastern apses made way for the exquisite chapel of the Nine Altars, with its rose windows and beautiful carving, of late Early English workmanship. The nave is massive Norman, with round pillars ornamented with surface-carving of various patterns. The western towers are Norman with an Early English superstructure. The famous Galilee chapel, of the finest late Norman work, projects from the west end. The central tower is a lofty and graceful Perpendicular structure. Other details especially worthy of notice are the altar screen of c.1380, and the curious semi-classical font-cover of the 17th century. There is a fine sanctuary-knocker on the north door. The cloisters are of the early part of the 15th century. The chapter-house is a modern restoration of the original Norman structure, a very fine example, which was destroyed by James Wyatt c.1796, in the course of restoration of which much was ill-judged. The cathedral library, formerly the dormitory and refectories of the abbey, contains a number of curious and interesting printed books and MSS., and the portable altar, vestments and other relics found in St Cuthbert's grave. The Galilee contains the supposed remains of the Venerable Bede. The total length of the cathedral within is 496 ft., the greatest height within (except the lantern) 74 ft., and the height of the central tower 218 ft. The diocese of Durham covers the whole county excepting a small fragment, and also very small parts of Northumberland and Yorkshire.
The naturally strong position selected for the resting-place of St Cuthbert's remains was possibly artificially fortified also, but it was not until 1072 that William the Conqueror caused the erection of a castle to the north of the cathedral across the neck of the peninsula. Of this there remain a beautiful crypt-chapel, and a few details incorporated in later work. Other interesting portions are the Norman gallery, with its fine arcade, Bishop Hatfield's hall of c.1350, a reconstruction of the previous Norman one by Bishop Pudsey, and the Black Staircase of fine woodwork of the 17th century. The keep is a modern reconstruction. The castle, with the exception of some apartments used by the judges of assize, is appropriated to the uses of Durham University. On the peninsula are also the churches of St Mary le Bow in the North Bailey and St Mary the Less, the one a 17th-century building on a very ancient site, possibly that on which the first church rose over St Cuthbert's remains; the other possessing slight traces of Norman work, but almost completely modernized. Of other churches in Durham, the site of St Oswald is apparently pre-Norman, and the building contains Norman work of Bishop Pudsey, also some fine early 15th-century woodwork. St Margaret's and St Giles' churches show work of the same period, and the second of these has earlier portions.
Several of the streets of Durham preserve an appearance of antiquity. Three of the bridges crossing the Wear are old, that of Framwellgate having been built in the 13th century and rebuilt in the 15th. In the neighbourhood of the city certain sites are of interest as adding detail to its history. To the south on Maiden Hill there is an encampment, occupied, if not constructed, by the Romans. Immediately W. of Durham is Neville's Cross, of which little remains. The battle of Neville's Cross was fought in 1346, resulting in the defeat of the invading Scots by the English under Lord Neville and Henry Percy. The Scots had encamped at Beaurepaire or Bearpark, where a few ruins mark the site of the county residence of the priors of Durham, which had suffered from previous invaders. On the Wear below Durham is the priory of Finchale (1196), of which there are considerable remains of Early English date and later, but in the main Decorated. The valley of the Wear in the neighbourhood of Durham is well wooded and picturesque, but there are numerous collieries on the uplands above it, and the beauty of the county is marred.
Among educational establishments in Durham the university stands first. The earliest connexion of the ecclesiastical foundation at Durham with an actual educational foundation was made by Prior Richard de Hoton (1290-1308), who erected a hall in Oxford for students from Durham, who had previously enjoyed no such provision. In 1380 Bishop Hatfield refounded this hall as Durham College, which became Trinity College (see Oxford) on a new foundation (1555) when the possessions of the abbey of Durham had been surrendered in 1540, after which Durham College survived as a secular foundation only for a few years. Henry VIII. had the unfulfilled intention of founding a college in Durham, and a similar attempt failed in the time of the Commonwealth. In 1831 the scheme for a college was projected by the chapter; an act of 1832 specified the foundation as a university, and in Michaelmas 1833 its doors were opened. The first warden, and a prime mover in the scheme of foundation, was Archdeacon Charles Thorp (d. 1862). In 1837 the university received its charter from William IV. The dean and chapter of the cathedral are governors, and the bishop of Durham is visitor, but the active management is in the hands of the warden, senate and convocation. The system and life of the university are broadly similar to those of the greater universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Proctorial administration is carried on by two proctors annually nominated by the warden. Among the various residential divisions of the university may be mentioned Bishop Hatfield's Hall (1846), which, through its endowment, by means of such methods of economy as provision for all meals in common, permits men of limited means to become students. The degree for bachelor of arts is awarded after two public examinations, and may be taken in two years, with a total of six months' residence in each year. Special examinations are provided for candidates who seek honours, and those who obtain honours are admissible, after a certain period, to the mastership of arts without further examination, but in other cases further examination must have been taken, or an essay presented as a qualification for this degree. A theological course is provided for bachelors of the university, those who have passed a similar course elsewhere, or non-graduates aged nineteen who have passed a certain standard of examination. Instruction in civil engineering and mining was established as early as 1837, but was subsequently given up; and in 1871 the university and the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers co-operated to found the college of physical science at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which provides such instruction and was incorporated with the university in 1874. The college of medicine at Newcastle has been in connexion with Durham University since 1852, and the professors there are professors of the university. In 1895 degrees for women were established, and in 1889 a hostel was opened for the accommodation of women, who may take any course of instruction except the theological. In 1889 musical degrees were instituted, and a professorship was founded in 1897. Among other subjects may be mentioned the granting of degrees in hygiene, and of diplomas in public health and education (see J.T. Fowler, Durham University, uniform with series of College Histories; London, 1904).
The grammar school was refounded by Henry VIII. out of the monastic school. It is a flourishing institution on the lines of the public schools, and has "king's scholarships" tenable in the school, and scholarships and exhibitions tenable at the universities. There are also a diocesan training college for schoolmasters and mistresses, and a high school for girls; and 4 m. W. of the city is the great Roman Catholic College of St Cuthbert, Ushaw, the representative of the old college at Douai. Here are preserved the magnificent natural history collections of Charles Waterton. Other buildings worthy of notice in Durham are the town-hall, a 16th-century building reconstructed in 1851, the police station, and the guildhall, the shire hall and county buildings, and the county hospital. There are ironworks and manufactures of hosiery, carpets and mustard in the city. The parliamentary borough returns one member. The corporation consists of a mayor, 6 aldermen and 18 councillors. Area, 1070 acres.
History of the City. - The foundation of the city followed on that of the church by the monks of Lindisfarne at the close of the 10th century. The history of the city is closely associated with that of the palatinate of Durham. The bishop of Durham among other privileges claimed a mint in the city, which, according to Boldon Book, rendered ten marks yearly until its value was reduced by that established by Henry II. at Newcastle, and it was temporarily abolished by the same king. The earliest charter, dated 1179 or 1180, is a grant of exemption from toll merchet and heriot made by Bishop Hugh Pudsey and confirmed by Pope Alexander. Before that time, however, the monks had a little borough at Elvet, which is divided from Durham by the Wear and afterwards became part of the city. In 1183 the city was at farm and rendered sixty marks. It was at first governed by a bailiff appointed by the bishop, but in 1565 Bishop Pilkington ordained that the government should consist, in addition to the bailiff, of one alderman and twelve assistants, the latter to continue in office for life, and the former to be chosen every year from among their number. This form of government was replaced in 1602, under the charter of Bishop Matthew, by that of a mayor, 12 aldermen and 24 burgesses, the aldermen and burgesses forming a common council and electing a mayor every year from among the aldermen. This was confirmed by James I., but in 1684 the corporation were obliged to resign their charters to Bishop Crew, who granted them a new one, probably reserving to himself a right of veto on the election of the mayor and aldermen. At the time of the Revolution, however, Bishop Matthew's charter was revived, and continued to be the governing charter of the city until 1770, when, owing to dissensions as to the election of the common council, the number of aldermen was reduced to four and the charter became void. No mayor or aldermen were elected for ten years, but in 1780 Bishop Egerton, on the petition of the burgesses, granted them a new charter, which was practically a confirmation of that of 1602, and remained in force until the Municipal Reform Act of 1835. Being within the county palatine, the city of Durham sent no members to parliament, until, after several attempts beginning in 1614, it was enabled by an act of 1673 to return two members, which it continued to do until 1885, when by the Redistribution of Seats Act the number was reduced to one.
The corporation of Durham claim their fair and market rights under Bishop Pudsey's charter of 1179, confirmed in 1565, as a weekly market on Saturday and three yearly fairs on the feasts of St Cuthbert in September and March and on Whit Monday, each continuing for two days. In 1610 the bishop of Durham brought a suit in chancery against the burgesses and recovered from them the markets and fairs, which he afterwards leased to the corporation for a rent of £20 yearly until they were purchased from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1860. Durham has never been noted for any particular trade; and the attempts to introduce the manufacture of cloth and wool in the 17th and 18th centuries were failures. The manufacture of carpets was begun in 1814.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)