A few months ago Sunderland Global Media detailed findings on the history of the Farringdon estate in the city. We found that the land in fact been occupied for hundreds of years as a private manor and had its roots in the Middle Ages, eventually being sold to Sunderland City Council in the mid 20th century to be developed into public housing. Memory of its historical role had faded away with most locals not being aware of this origin. Now, we are working to bring it back and today we’re happy to announce that we have been able to expand on these findings and discover more about the historical Farringdon/Farnton, focusing on what was present on the specific estate.
The land of Farringdon was up until the 16th century owned by the Monastery of Hexham and utilized as a Monastic grange, described as “Outlying holdings by monastries” which were used to provide food and resources for monks. According to America’s Cornell University whom studied the place names of historical Northumbria, the name Farringdon derives from “Farm or hill of Faer or his sons” but at which date this name appears remains unclear so far.
The estate was thus a farm and small village which constituted a part of the historical township of Silksworth. Like its counterparts throughout the country, the Church’s hold over the land was brought to an end by Henry VIII who forced the dissolution of the Monasteries and consolidated his power over the Church of England. Farringdon in particular or “Farnton Hall” was sold to the prominent Blakiston family, who had been affiliated with the village for at least 200 years, it would subsequently remain a private manor up until the 1950s.
But what of course was physically present on this historic estate, particularly during the era of the Monks? This is where we have more to reveal. With the land once under the control of Hexham Monastery, the estate is in fact mentioned in the text “The Black Book of Hexham” authored as an effective taxation and land record in the year 1479. Here, Farringdon is mentioned as “Farendon Grange” the record subsequently details the area as having a “windmill”, “12 cottage lands”, “one common oven” and a “brewing” house.
Although this information was always available in the public domain, it was effectively forgotten as few people had thought the history of Farringdon was relevant to pursue. The knowledge that Farringdon once hosted a windmill and an old brewery had been completely lost. Although recent maps show the modern core of historical Farringdon was the area around Anthony Road, whether this was the site of the medieval estate remains unknown and there does not appear to be map detailed data available for this period to reveal it.
Nevertheless, these findings allow our project to move a little bit further forwards. Farringdon was not just an obscure place name in History books or a modern estate, but it was a place where people once lived, worked and farmed over 500 years ago. Of course, the presence of modern housing over the land will certainly make finding the remnants of this legacy extremely challenging, but nevertheless there’s still a lot more to be done!