Georgian Era – 1714-1837

Although St Mary's building takes a turn for the worse and the Bishop of Durham refuses to visit, improvements and innovations are soon afoot

Georgian Era – 1714-1837

1719 A West Gallery is set up, extending over three fifths of the nave.

1725-1754 Local son of the gentry, George Hopper dies, aged 23: his burial site prompts a lengthy legal case until his tomb is allowed to remain inside St Mary’s south-west corner.

1772 -79 The church tower is raised higher, but its unsafe spire is lowered and finally removed.

1780-95 St Mary’s is in poor condition, “wretchedly stalled…slovenly and offensive”, with no heating or lighting. The floor is broken or unpaved, the building damp and the stonework in great need of repair. Another seating gallery is built in the north transept, and St Mary’s can seat 900 people!

1806-7 The churchyard is expanded, and Margaret Westwick is appointed sexton “so long as she conducts herself properly

1814 A National School (for boys) is erected at the south-east corner of the churchyard

1813-17 A new doorway is created at the West end; the East and South walls of the chancel are rebuilt, with new windows and a doorway; new pews arrive and there is a new vicarage for Rev John Davidson.

1823 A barrel organ is purchased and after a trial of locations – the chancel arch, a suggested new south transept gallery, the west gallery, the south transept SE corner, the west gallery again! – it is finally installed in the south transept at ground level.

1822-24 St Mary’s six bells are re-cast, including one of the oldest in Durham diocese from nearby Egglestone Abbey.

1835 The Hullock memorial – “Justice” – is erected over the vestry door, after death of Sir John, Baron of the Exchequer, in 1829. This statue is now located in the church porch.