Weardale Chest

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 33 WEC
  • Dates of Creation
      ca. 1579 - ca. 1660 (including some copies of earlier material)
  • Language of Material
      English ; Latin
  • Physical Description
      1 metre, and original chest

Scope and Content

The documents relate to the Forest of Weardale and Stanhope Park in the parish of Stanhope, Co. Durham, parcel of the Bishop of Durham's manor of Wolsingham. They comprise evidence for a series of law suits concerning tenant right etc. betweenthe tenants of Weardale and Sir Arthur Hesilrige who purchased the manor of Wolsingham in the Civil War, after its confiscation from the Bishop. The original documents date from ca. 1579 - ca. 1660 but there are sixteenth and seventeenth centurycopies of many earlier items from 1377 onwards. They include leases, conveyances, agreements, Forest Court papers and miscellanea.

Administrative / Biographical History

This sixteenth century chest with its documents was preserved in Weardale for several centuries, guarded on behalf of the Weardale community by the occupier for the time being of Warden Hill farm and opened only when several key holders cametogether.


By document type, in chronological order.

Access Information

Open for consultation

Acquisition Information

The chest and documents were deposited in 1953 from Weardale, with the University of Durham’s Department of Palaeography and Diplomatic (from 1990 part of the University Library’s Archives and Special Collections department).

Other Finding Aids

The Weardale Chest: list of documents relating to the Forest of Weardale and Stanhope Park (1967), available as an online catalogue at online catalogue

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail PG.Library@durham.ac.uk) and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assistwhere possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Related Material

Durham Bishopric Estates, Church Commission Deposit: Parliamentary survey of Manor of Wolsingham.

Mickleton & Spearman MS 100: contains depositions of witnesses in the case of Geo. Harrison & others v. Sir Arthur Haslerigg regarding Stanhope Park and Weardale Forest.


Drury, J. Linda, Sir Arthur Hesilrige and the Weardale chest , Transactions of the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham andNorthumberland n.s. 5 (1980), 125-37.  Emsley, K. & Fraser, C.M., The courts of the county palatine of Durham (Durham, 1984), especially p.58-65 re the Forest Court of Weardale. Denton, Barry, Only in heaven : the life and campaigns of Sir Arthur Hesilrige, 1601-1661 (Sheffield Academic Press, 1997)