Church Commission Deposit of Parsonage Houses, Benefice and Chapelry Income Papers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Papers relating to parsonage houses and benefice and chapelry income created by or for the predecessors of the Church Commissioners and consisting of:

1. Nineteen bundles of papers and architectural plans, 1832-1940, each of which concerns a parsonage house which had been disposed of by the Church Commissioners prior to 1971. Seventeen of these bundles relate to parishes or chapelries in the archdeaconries of Durham and Auckland in the diocese of Durham and have been arranged in one alphabetical sequence according to place. The remaining bundles relate to Branxton, 1837-1838, and Slaley, 1906-1923, both then in the archdeaconry of Northumberland (since 1882 part of the diocese of Newcastle); with the permission of the Church Commissioners these two bundles might at some stage be transferred to the Northumberland Record Office to join similar material already held there.

2. Plan of an estate at West Auckland, Co. Durham, 1810-1811, “lately” purchased from Robert Sanderson by the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty for the augmentation of the curacies of Auckland St. Andrew, Auckland St. Anne chapelry and Escomb, all in the archdeaconry of Durham.

3. Returns of benefice and chapelry etc. income made by bishops of Durham to the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty in pursuance of Acts of Parliament of 5 Anne, 1 George I and 45 George III:

  • Sealed summary return re all benefices with cure of souls in the diocese of Durham under the value of £150 per annum, with the entries arranged by rural deaneries, 1809.
  • Sealed supplemental returns for Gateshead Fell 1826, Heatherycleugh 1825, Shincliffe 1827 and Weardale St. John 1816, all in the archdeaconry of Durham.
  • Sealed supplemental returns for Byrness in Elsdon and Kirkhaugh 1810 and Greenhead chapelry in Haltwhistle parish 1830, all in the archdeaconry of Northumberland (at that period still part of the diocese of Durham).

Administrative / Biographical History

The Church Commissioners for England have existed as such since 1 April 1948, at which date the amalgamation of the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty for the Augmentation of the Maintenance of the Poor Clergy (founded 1704 - see below) and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England (founded 1836) took effect under the provisions of the Church Commissioners Measure, 1947. In 1856 the Church Building Commissioners, constituted in 1818, had been dissolved and their remaining powers and duties transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

Queen Anne's Bounty was established in 1704 by assigning the first fruits and tenths from benefices worth over £50 per annum (previously diverted from the church to the Crown by an Act of 26 Henry VIII [1534-1535]) in order to form a fund to be used to augment poor ecclesiastical livings by providing matching grants of capital, not income, or by loans through mortgages for repairs to parsonage houses. Under the Dilapidations Acts of 1870 and 1871 Queen Anne's Bounty also took on responsibility for dilapidations and insuring parsonage houses.

The chief duty of the Church Commissioners and before them the Ecclesiastical Commissioners has always been to administer the secular estates and revenues of the Church of England in order to maximise financial support for the clergy. They also play a role in making provision for pastoral reorganisation and dealing with parsonage houses and new and redundant churches.


See Scope and Content.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

Deposited with the Department of Palaeography and Diplomatic of the University of Durham (since 1990 part of the Archives and Special Collections department of Durham University Library) on 23 July 1981 by the Church Commissioners.

Other Finding Aids

Collection description and draft manuscript list

Separated Material

Church of England Record Centre, London: Church Commissioners' Records.

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 and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Custodial History

These papers were originally deposited in Durham County Record Office by the Church Commissioners at various dates between 1970 and 1981 (as part of a programme to transfer such material from London to local repositories) but were subsequently transferred to the custody of the university so that they could be housed in the same repository as the Durham Diocesan Records and other related collections.


The Church Commissioners have indicated that they might in the future make further deposits of related material and in particular of items similar to those described under sections 2 and 3 below.

Related Material

Church Commission Deposit of Durham Bishopric Financial and Estate Records.

Church Commission Deposit of Durham Dean and Chapter Estate Records.

Durham Diocesan Records: loans and mortgages for repairs to parsonage houses [DDR/EA/PHL/1-2]; parsonage-house plans, 20th century [DDR/EA/PHM/1].

Hayton, Lee & Braddock Papers.

Wood Plans and Drawings.


Best, G.F.A., Temporal pillars. Queen Anne's Bounty, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and the Church of England (CUP, 1964)  Brown, J.R., Number One Millbank The story of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners (n.d. [ca.1944])  Hodgson, C., An account of the augmentation of small livings by the Governors of the Bounty of Queen Anne, for the augmentation of the maintenance of the poor clergy ... to the end of the year 1825 ... (London, 1826)  Hodgson, C., Supplement to the account of the augmentation of small livings, by the Governors of the Bounty of Queen Anne ... to the 31st day of December, 1834 (London, 1835). See also later supplements.  Port, M.H., Six hundred new churches. A study of the Church Building Commission, 1818-1856, and its church building activities (London, S.P.C.K., 1961)  Robinson, E.J., The records of the Church Commissioners, Journal of the Society of Archivists, vol.III, no.7 (April 1968), 347-356  Savidge, A., The foundation and early years of Queen Anne's Bounty (London, S.P.C.K., 1955)  Welch, C.E., The records of the Church Commissioners [re their inherited records], Journal of the Society of Archivists, vol.I, no.1 (April 1955)