Corona Virus

Bishop Middleham & Mainsforth Community Support Service

Our community support buddy system is now up and running. Just click on the buttons below to volunteer or to ask for help with the following:
• Shopping
• Picking up a prescription
• Something else
• Or if you would just like to talk with someone

You should also have had a leaflet through which includes telephone numbers of volunteers for people to phone if they are not good with computers.

Volunteers need to be between the ages of 18 and 70 and able to use Whats App and Email as we will be communicating via Whats App to ensure we get messages out quickly and consistently.
If you've any concerns please give me a ring (number below).

Many thanks in advance
Harvey Neve
Chair Bishop Middleham & Mainsforth Parish Council

JOIN our volunteer group Request our SUPPORT

We will only collect very basic information to allow us to contact those who need support and to buddy them up with a volunteer.
All information will be held securely, meeting the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
Your information will only be shared with those providing support.
Your information will be deleted once this service is no longer needed.

Corona Virus Information

The Corona Virus undoubtedly presents us with a significant challenge which is understandably causing a lot worry across all communities. The strength we have in Bishop Middleham and Mainsforth is our very real sense of Community and our buddying service is available now should you need help or would like someone to talk with.

I want to reassure people who may understandably be feeling anxious, that help is only a click or phone call away and that they should never feel alone.

I encourage everyone to keep up to date with latest advice via the site - click here. The daily briefings from the Prime Minister are also available on, click here. For those on Facebook please follow the community page as well click here.

Joanna at The Village Store and Post Office are also co-ordinating local food deliveries for those in need. The store can be contacted on 01740 651342 or via the Facebook page.
Any key messages or information specifically for our community of Bishop Middleham and Mainsforth will also be posted here and can be seen in the stream on this web page as well.

I am also more than happy to be contacted direct on 651790 or drop me an email on
Regards, Harvey
Harvey Neve
Chair Bishop Middleham & Mainsforth Parish Council

Welcome to

Bishop Middleham & Mainsforth

The villages of Bishop Middleham & Mainsforth lie in a valley 9 miles South West of Durham and have a rich history dating back millennia. The area is dominated by beautiful open countryside and rich biodiversity with areas of outstanding beauty and historic sites of national importance. In a recent Parish survey, residents expressed how much they valued the environment and heritage within their community, but also how keen they were to progress with the times. Out of this feedback came our Parish logo and vision statement: Conserving our past : building our future. You will see that there is a lot going on in this vibrant community with everything either helping to conserve or educate about our heritage or to modernise and help build our future. Whether you’re attending events or just getting out and about enjoying one of the many walks, with maybe a nice pub lunch at the end, we hope you enjoy being in and around our community.

Although much of County Durham had probably first been settled in the Mesolithic period, the first evidence for occupation in the parish dates to the Neolithic or Bronze Age. At least two simple flint tools, including an arrowhead, have been found in the area. The arrowhead was probably used by an early hunter, though by the Bronze Age farming would have been widespread. By the Iron Age we have our first evidence for burials in the parish- at least six graves were found in a small cave. A small glass bead decorated with white spiral patterns may also have come from an early or middle Iron Age grave.

It is clear that Bishop Middleham was on an important Roman period routeway; the road known as Cades Road runs through the centre of the parish. Despite the presence of this important communication route, no Roman buildings have been found in the parish. Nonetheless several other Roman objects have been uncovered in the area, including a small bronze statue of a Roman god. More unusually a group of four Roman pans stacked one inside each other have also been discovered. They were decorated so as to give them a silver appearance. It is possible they may have had a religious use, as such pans are often shown carved on the site of Roman altars.

The discovery of these objects and the small statue may suggest that an as yet undiscovered Roman temple is still to be found. There is little hard evidence for Anglo-Saxon settlement in the parish, though as Middleham is an Old English name for ‘middle settlement or farm’ there was certainly some kind of occupation in the area by the 9th or 10th centuries. In 1146 Osbert, the nephew of Bishop Flambard, gave the Church of Middleham to the Prior and Convent at Durham, this is the first recorded mention of the village.

In 1183 the Boldon Book, a survey of all the land owned by the Bishop of Durham, records that there were some 32 households in the village, which was surveyed along with neighbouring Cornforth. The survey was particularly detailed and names a number of individuals such as Arkil, Ralph and William the Headborough.

Bishop Middleham was one of the favourite residences of the Bishops of Durham, two of whom died here. The residence of the Bishops now only survives as earthwork remains. By the late 14th century the Bishop of Durham appears to have no longer used the Castle as a residence and the buildings and land were let out at first to his bailiff. By 1509 this was a man named John Hall who enjoyed a lease of 31 years.

The castle and deer park passed through a number of hands over the following centuries including the Eure family of Witton Castle, the Freville’s and by the 18th century the Surtees family which included the notable historian Robert Surtees, who lived nearby at Mainsforth and wrote on the village and Castle in his History of Durham in 1823. He is buried in Bishop Middleham church. By the 19th century the contained four public houses, a brewery, and a few tradesmen’s shops. The village mainly supported itself by farming, though there was some coalmining; the remains of a wagonway have been recorded. The main railway line also ran close to the village.
A message form the Chair of our Parish Council

Parish Council Vacancy

We've had a vacancy on our Parish Council team since Julie Maude stepped down after a number of years doing a superb job representing people in the Parish and particularly those in Mainsforth. We are really keen for someone from Mainsforth to join our team of volunteers to help us better represent the needs of this important part of our Parish.

We are all volunteers and passionate about the community in which we live and if you feel the same, particularly if you live in Mainsforth, why not find out more about joining the team? It’s incredibly rewarding and the minimum time commitment is a monthly 2hr meeting, although there is lots more to get involved with dependent on what time you are able to offer.

If you would like to know more, please contact me via this page, give me a ring or pop along to our next meeting (13th Nov 7pm at the village Hall) to meet the team and get a flavour for how it all works.
Regards, Harvey Neve
Chair: Bishop Middleham and Mainsforth Parish Council. Tel 651790

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More about

Bishop Middleham

Please read on to find out more about the Village Hall, the Parish Council and other attractions and information about the village.

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St.Michael's Church

The Church, dedicated to St. Michael, stands upon the hill south of the village, and is said to have been erected by Bishop Beck, but it is more probably the work of Bishop Poor, and of the date about 1230.

It was in 1146 presented to the prior and convent of Durham by Osbert, nephew of Bishop Flambard, but it was soon afterwards annexed to the Priory of Finchale, by Bishop Robert de Insula, and so continued till the dissolution.

It is a venerable structure, in the Early English style, and consists of nave, chancel, and aisles, with a western bell turret.