St. James Church

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Extracts of text written by Mr. Alan Simpson and kindly provided by Mr. P. Simpson.

In the Beginning:

As Anglican Parishes go , the Parish Of Burnopfield is relatively new one , being formed as recently as 1871. The church of St. James (the Greater) followed in 1873. Prior to this our parish was part of the Ancient Chapelry of Tanfield. This Chapelry stretched from South Stanley in the south to the river Derwent in the north and from Andrew,s House in the east to Powburn in the west. The Chapelry of Tanfield in turn had constituted the 5th Preband (revenue from the manor) in the Collegiate Church of Chester  (le-Street). The Dean was bound to maintain a Chaplain at Tanfield , and, on the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538, some provision was made out of the small tithes for support of a perpetual Curate.

During the 18th century the Chapelry of Tanfield was governed by the Vestrymen. These were usually twelve of the most influential and wealthiest land owners , or their agents in the Parish. from Burnopfield we had a fair share of representatives, William Newton of Burnopfield House, Samuel Newton his brother from Crookgate, Robert Robinson  from Bryan’s Leap and John Scafe.  By the late 19th Vestrymen lost much of their power. the population of the Tanfield parish grew substantially , due mainly to the coal trade.

In 1863 the Lintz Colliery Company opened a school for children of its workers. for a number of years the school was used to hold regular services for the Burnopfield community.By 1871 the growth of the population and the number of people attending the services the School it became impractical to hold services at the school. Te Rev’d Stirrup  along with Mr John Murray approached Mr R.H Murray , an owner of land in Burnopfield  from Careham Hall , Northumberland , to see if he would donate land for the Church. This he did with along with this he donated a £100.

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