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Durham City Church of St Giles

In the civil parish of Durham.
In the historic county of Durham.
Modern Authority of Durham.
1974 county of County Durham.
Medieval County of County Palatinate of Durham.

OS Map Grid Reference: NZ28394265
Latitude 54.77797° Longitude -1.56014°

Durham City Church of St Giles has been described as a probable Siege Work.

There are masonry footings remains.

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


On 14 March, 1143, William of St. Barbara was elected bishop in spite of Cumin's efforts, and shortly afterwards made his first attempt to oust the intruder. It appears that Roger Conyers, one of the episcopal barons, had refused to do homage to Cumin as his brethren had, and fearful of Cumin's anger, had fortified his house at Bishopton, some fourteen miles south of Durham. Thither the new bishop, somewhat unwillingly, proceeded towards the end of August. Many flocked to meet him, and escorted by Conyers and some other barons he proceeded towards the castle of Durham. The bishop's first attempt to oust the intruder was anything but successful. Cumin, disregarding the bishop's attempts to compromise, assumed the offensive, and on their approach drove back the episcopal troops, who retired to St. Giles's Church, situated on a height about a mile to the east of the castle. The next morning Cumin attacked St. Giles's, drove his opponents back, and fortified the church as an advance post from whence the bishop's troops were harried by frequent sallies of the garrison consisting of a company of men-at-arms and archers. (VCH, 1907)

Parish church. Part of the hospital of St. Giles founded 1112 AD; north nave wall c.1114; chancel late C12; tower early C13 and early C15; c.1873 south aisle and vestry, north porch. Sandstone, most coursed and squared, with ashlar dressings; porch snecked sandstone; plinth. (Listed Building Report)

The stone built church and the buildings of the hospital (possibly also stone built) would have provide ready accommodation for troop in 1143. The hospital (presumably functioning as a resting place for pilgrims to Durham) was moved in 1180. Although the church does have a tactically valuable position it may be that some of the bishops 'troops' were pilgrims, rather than trained soldiers, already based at the hospital, who retreated there out of familiarity rather than for military reasons.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:08

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