Castle Eden

The Castle

Castle Eden is a village in County Durham, in England. It is situated a short distance to the south of Peterlee, Wingate, the A19 and Castle Eden Dene. The village is famous for the former Castle Eden Brewery which was home of the famous Castle Eden Ale, most of it was demolished in 2003 for a new housing estate and only the main front building remains today which is a listed building and is now office space with a small trendy bistro. The A19 used to run through the village until it was bypassed in the 1970s. The deep and impressive nearby dene extends all the way to sea and its many Yew trees are a particular feature where they find the magnesian limestone soil advantageous.


During the Danish occupation, the village was known as South Yoden, or "Yew Dene," but following the end of Danish occupation in 960AD, the village took its present name of Castle Eden, thus no connection with its biblical namesake. (Note also Horden) Both the Domesday Book, and the Kings Book record Castle Eden as a small village, but make no mention of any castle. In 1764, the Estate of Castle Eden was purchased by Rowland Burdon from William Turner, in which the deeds describe a pathway passing a ruined medieval chapel across a bridge and through the village leading up to the ruined manor and castle. It is commonly considered that this is the area named "The Village" and that the present Parish Church of St. James (Parish of Monk Hesleden) is built on the site of the chapel mentioned.

In the 1760s, a farm labourer digging out a hedge discovered a fine glass beaker, known as "The Castle Eden Beaker". It now resides in the British Museum.

Rowland Burdon returned to Estate in 1766 to work on "The Castle" as it became named, adding the present Regency Gothic wing. Sir John Soane, renowned Regency Architect, visited the completed castle on his way from another project. He drafted plans, proposing a potential Neo-Classical remodelling of the structure. Burdon in the end chose not to commission him.

Rowland Burdon, along with the Nimo family, would go on to found what would come to be known as the Castle Eden Brewery. Whilst other families such as the Savilles owned their rope works and bleachery for sail cloth manufacturing, making the village at the start of the 19th century fairly industrious. But as with so many similar sites, as the Victorian era moved on, so did much of the industry.

In the course of the 19th century, the by now much expanded, but still low populated and spread out village, acquired a police station and Magistrate Court. These were later disbanded in the 1960s and their buildings demolished. The village also had its own primary school which closed in the 1970s. Until the 1980s, the village still had a post office which subsequently closed, leaving the Castle Eden Inn as well as the village hall (which has come to occupy the site of the demolished structures) as the only amenities, up until the recent redevelopment of the brewery site (Castle Eden Ales, now having made arrangements, to work with Camerons in Hartlepool). The village was also once served by two railway stations, which closed as part of the Beeching Axe branch line closures.

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