St Margaret of Antioch,

Crossgate, Durham

 

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850th 2010 - photos

HISTORIC CROSSGATE

St Margaret's Church sites at the bottom of Crossgate, the ancient route west from the City , on a bluff overlooking Framwellgate Bridge.  Crossgate is one of the oldest streets in Durham and is so named because it connects the city centre with Neville's Cross (where the remains of a stone cross still stand by the side of the road: a reminder that Crossgate was for a long time a pilgrimage route for those travelling to Durham to venerate the relics of St Cuthbert). 

 
It is very likely that from early times there had been dwellings in the Crossgate area and the surrounding neighbourhood, possibly even before the community of St Cuthbert in 995 established itself on the peninsula.  Whether these early inhabitants of Crossgate had a church of their own is not known, and if they had it may well have been destroyed in 1096 when, after Earl Robert de Comines and his men were slain by the Durham people, William the Conqueror ruthlessly punished the citizens and ravaged the neighbourhood of Durham City.

 

After the arrival of William de St Calais as Bishop of Durham and the establishment of a community of Benedictine monks in 1092, the lands belonging to the community of St Cuthbert were in due course divided out between the Bishop and the Prior of the head of the community of monks. The Borough of Crossgate, or the "Old Borough" as it was called, came into the possession of the Prior.  Crossgate was growing in importance, for the next Bishop of Durham, Rannulf Flambard, built a bridge linking the area to the wealthy peninsula.

 

St Margaret's Church was first established in the 12th century as a Chapel of Ease for the inhabitants of Crossgate who did not wish to go out of the Borough to attend the Mother Church of St Oswald's in Church Street. The church became an independent parochial chapel in 1431. The Parish included Crossgate Moor, Milburngate and the entire Framwellgate area, as far north as Finchale, until the 19th century.