A number of new interpretation panels have been installed at locations around the town.
Entrance to Fore Bondgate
The area known as Bondgate dates to the very beginnings of Bishop Auckland. It is named after the ‘bondsmen’ – labourers, bound by contract, who served the bishop. Shortly after Auckland Castle was established, a small settlement grew to the west of the bishop’s residence and Deer Park. By 1183, the Boldon Book reported that 22 villagers lived here, including a cobbler, a miller and a smith.
For centuries, Fore Bondgate was Bishop Auckland’s main shopping area, home to an eclectic mix of shops and public houses. Although, today, shops are more widely spread across the town, Fore Bondgate remains home to numerous independent businesses that keep the tradition of the area alive.
Until the new Boots building replaced it in the 1980s, this area was the site of the Three Tuns, one of the largest coaching inns in town. Three storeys high, it dominated this part of the street. On the outside, the ground floor was covered in distinctive brown tiles. Inside there was a long bar, parallel with Newgate Street, and behind that a series of cosy little rooms. all with very low ceilings.
This area was the site of the Eden Theatre, Princes Street was much narrower, and where the roundabout is now, was a railway bridge. The road between the bridge and Newgate Street, known as Fairless Street, was named after the first theatre manager.
The Batts, Flatts Farm and Binchester
The historic place-name ‘Batts, or Butts, describes an area where medieval archers trained, often on the flat common land beside rivers. Further up the River Wear, you’ll also find the Butts at Stanhope and The Batts at Frosterly. Weekly longbow practice at the butts helped to make the archers the backbone of the English army in the Middle Ages.
These boards have been funded by Durham County Council and the text and photographs provided by local historian Barbara Laurie and Durham County Record Office.