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County Durham
County Durham within England
Coordinates: 54°40′N 1°50′W / 54.667°N 1.833°W / 54.667; -1.833Coordinates: 54°40′N 1°50′W / 54.667°N 1.833°W / 54.667; -1.833
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionNorth East England
EstablishedAncient
Time zoneUTC±00:00 (Greenwich Mean Time)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+01:00 (British Summer Time)
Members of ParliamentList
PoliceDurham Constabulary
Cleveland Police (part)
Ceremonial county
Lord LieutenantSusan Snowdon
High SheriffPeter Haswell Candler[1] (2019–20)
Area2,721 km2 (1,051 sq mi)
 • Ranked18th of 48
Population (mid-2019 est.)866,846
 • Ranked/ˈdʌrəm/, locally /ˈdɜrəm/About this soundlisten) is a county in North East England.[2] The county town is Durham, a cathedral city.

County Durham can refer to the unitary authority, ceremonial county or historic county with differing boundaries. The area of the unitary authority, Durham County Council, does not include boroughs in the Tees Valley region and includes land south of the Tees in Upper Teesdale.

The largest settlement in the ceremonial county is Darlington, closely followed by Hartlepool, Billingham and Stockton-on-Tees. The ceremonial borders are shared with Tyne and Wear to the north-east, Northumberland to the north, Cumbria to the west and North Yorkshire to the south.[3]

The historic county's boundaries stretch between the rivers Tyne and Tees, including settlements of Gateshead, Jarrow, South Shields and Sunderland. During the Middle Ages, the county was an ecclesiastical centre, due largely to the presence of St Cuthbert's shrine in Durham Cathedral, and the extensive powers granted to the Bishop of Durham as ruler of the County Palatine of Durham. The county has a mixture of mining, farming and heavy railway heritage, with the latter especially noteworthy in the southeast of the county, in Darlington, Shildon and Stockton.[4] In the centre of the city of Durham, Durham Castle and Cathedral are UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sites.

Etymology

Many counties are named after their principal town, and the expected form here would be Durhamshire, but this form has never been in common use. The ceremonial county is officially named Durham,[3] but the county has long been commonly known as County Durham and is the only English county name prefixed with "County" in common usage (a practice common in Ireland). Its unusual naming (for an English shire) is explained to some extent by the relationship with the Bishops of Durham, who for centuries governed Durham as a county palatine (the County Palatine of D

County Durham can refer to the unitary authority, ceremonial county or historic county with differing boundaries. The area of the unitary authority, Durham County Council, does not include boroughs in the Tees Valley region and includes land south of the Tees in Upper Teesdale.

The largest settlement in the ceremonial county is Darlington, closely followed by Hartlepool, Billingham and Stockton-on-Tees. The ceremonial borders are shared with Tyne and Wear to the north-east, Northumberland to the north, Cumbria to the west and North Yorkshire to the south.[3]

The historic county's boundaries stretch between the rivers Tyne and Tees, including settlements of Gateshead, Jarrow, South Shields and Sunderland. During the Middle Ages, the county was an ecclesiastical centre, due largely to the presence of St Cuthbert's shrine in Durham Cathedral, and the extensive powers granted to the Bishop of Durham as ruler of the County Palatine of Durham. The county has a mixture of mining, farming and heavy railway heritage, with the latter especially noteworthy in the southeast of the county, in Darlington, Shildon and Stockton.[4] In the centre of the city of Durham, Durham Castle and Cathedral are UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sites.

Many counties are named after their principal town, and the expected form here would be Durhamshire, but this form has never been in common use. The ceremonial county is officially named Durham,[3] but the county has long been commonly known as County Durham and is the only English county name prefixed with "County" in common usage (a practice common in Ireland). Its unusual naming (for an English shire) is explained to some extent by the relationship with the Bishops of Durham, who for centuries governed Durham as a county palatine (the County Palatine of Durham), outside the usual structure of county administration in England.

The situation regarding the formal name in modern local government is less clear:

  • The 2009 structural change legislation[5] created the present unitary council (that covers a large part – but not all – of the ceremonial county) refers to "the county of County Durham" and names the new unitary district "County Durham" too.
    • Later amendment to that legislation[6] refers to the "county of Durham" and the amendment allows for the unitary council to name itself "The Durham Council".
  • The council retains the name as Durham County Council. With either option, the name does not include County Durham.
  • The former postal county was named "County Durham" to distinguish it from the post town of Durham.

Politics

Parliament

The county boundaries used for parliamentary constituencies are those used between 1974 and 1996 (i.e. consisting of only the area governed by Durham County Council and the Borough of Darlington). This area of the county elects seven Members of Parliament. As of the 2019 General Election, four of these MPs are Conservatives and three MPs are Labour. The rest of the ceremonial county is included in constituencies in the Cleveland parliamentary constituency area.

2019 General Election Results in County Durham
Party Votes % Change from 2017 Seats Change from 2017
Conservative 123,112 40.6% Increase 4 Increase4
Labour 122,547 40.4% Decrease 3 Decrease4
Brexit 25,444 8.4% new 0 0
Liberal Democrats 21,356 7.0% Increase 0 0
Greens 5,985 2.0% Increase 0 0
Others 4,725 1.6% Increase 0 0
Total 303,260 100.0 7

Local government

The situation regarding the formal name in modern local government is less clear:

The county boundaries used for parliamentary constituencies are those used between 1974 and 1996 (i.e. consisting of only the area governed by Durham County Council and the Borough of Darlington). This area of the county elects seven Members of Parliament. As of the 2019 General Election, four of these MPs are Conservatives and three MPs are Labour. The rest of the ceremonial county is included in constituencies in the Cleveland parliamentary constituency area.

2019 General Election Results in County Durham
Party Votes % Change from 2017 Seats Change from 2017
Conservative 123,112 40.6% Increase 4 Increase4
Labour 122,547 40.4% Decrease 3 DecreaseThe ceremonial county of Durham is administered by four unitary authorities. The ceremonial county has no administrative function, but remains the area to which the Lord Lieutenant of Durham and the High Sheriff of Durham are appointed.

Civil parishes

The county is partially parished.

Emergency services

Durham Constabulary operate in the area of the two unitary districts of County Durham and Darlington.[11] Ron Hogg was first elected the Durham Police and Crime Commissioner for the force on 15 November 2012. The other areas in the ceremonial county fall within the police area of the Cleveland Police.

Fire service areas follow the same areas as the police with parished.

Emergency services

Durham Constabulary operate in the area of the two unitary districts of County Durham and Darlington.[11] Ron Hogg was first elected the Durham Police and Crime Commissioner for the force on 15 November 2012. The other areas in the ceremonial county fall within the police area of the Cleveland Police.

Fire service areas follow the same areas as the police with County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service serving the two unitary districts of County Durham and Darlington and Cleveland Fire Brigade covering the rest. County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service is under the supervision of a combined fire authority consisting of 25 local councillors: 21 from Durham County Council and 4 from Darlington Borough Council.[12]

The North East Ambulance Service NHS Trust are responsible for providing NHS ambulance services throughout the ceremonial county, plus the boroughs of Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland, which are south of the River Tees and therefore in North Yorkshire, but are also part of the North East England region.

Air Ambulance services are provided by the Great North Air Ambulance. The charity operates 3 helicopters including one at Durham Tees Valley Airport covering the County Durham area.

Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team, are based at Sniperly Farm in Durham City and respond to search and rescue incidents in the county.

History

Anglian Kingdom of Bernicia

Around AD 547, an Angle named Ida founded the kingdom o

Durham Constabulary operate in the area of the two unitary districts of County Durham and Darlington.[11] Ron Hogg was first elected the Durham Police and Crime Commissioner for the force on 15 November 2012. The other areas in the ceremonial county fall within the police area of the Cleveland Police.

Fire service areas follow the same areas as the police with County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service serving the two unitary districts of County Durham and Darlington and County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service serving the two unitary districts of County Durham and Darlington and Cleveland Fire Brigade covering the rest. County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service is under the supervision of a combined fire authority consisting of 25 local councillors: 21 from Durham County Council and 4 from Darlington Borough Council.[12]

The North East Ambulance Service NHS Trust are responsible for providing NHS ambulance services throughout the ceremonial county, plus the boroughs of Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland, which are south of the River Tees and therefore in North Yorkshire, but are also part of the North East England region.

Air Ambulance services are provided by the Great North Air Ambulance. The charity operates 3 helicopters including one at Durham Tees Valley Airport covering the County Durham area.

Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team, are based at Sniperly Farm in Durham City and respond to search and rescue incidents in the county.

Around AD 547, an Angle named Ida founded the kingdom of Bernicia after spotting the defensive potential of a large rock at Bamburgh, upon which many a fortification was thenceforth built.[13] Ida was able to forge, hold and consolidate the kingdom; although the native British tried to take back their land, the Angles triumphed and the kingdom endured.

Kingdom of Northumbria

In AD 604, Ida's grandson Æthelfrith forcibly merged Bernicia (ruled from Bamburgh) and Deira (ruled from York, which was known a

In AD 604, Ida's grandson Æthelfrith forcibly merged Bernicia (ruled from Bamburgh) and Deira (ruled from York, which was known as Eforwic at the time) to create the Kingdom of Northumbria. In time, the realm was expanded, primarily through warfare and conquest; at its height, the kingdom stretched from the River Humber (from which the kingdom drew its name) to the Forth. Eventually, factional fighting and the rejuvenated strength of neighbouring kingdoms, most notably Mercia, led to Northumbria's decline.[13] The arrival of the Vikings hastened this decline, and the Scandinavian raiders eventually claimed the Deiran part of the kingdom in AD 867 (which became Jórvík). The land that would become County Durham now sat on the border with the Great Heathen Army, a border which today still (albeit with some adjustments over the years) forms the boundaries between Yorkshire and County Durham.

Despite their success south of the river Tees, the Vikings never fully conquered the Bernician part of Northumbria, despite the many raids they had carried out on the kingdom.[13] However, Viking control over the Danelaw, the central belt of Anglo-Saxon territory, resulted in Northumbria becoming isolated from the rest of Anglo-Saxon Britain. Scots invasions in the north p

Despite their success south of the river Tees, the Vikings never fully conquered the Bernician part of Northumbria, despite the many raids they had carried out on the kingdom.[13] However, Viking control over the Danelaw, the central belt of Anglo-Saxon territory, resulted in Northumbria becoming isolated from the rest of Anglo-Saxon Britain. Scots invasions in the north pushed the kingdom's northern boundary back to the River Tweed, and the kingdom found itself reduced to a dependent earldom, its boundaries very close to those of modern-day Northumberland and County Durham. The kingdom was annexed into England in AD 954.

In AD 995, St Cuthbert's community, who had been transporting Cuthbert's remains around, partly in an attempt to avoid them falling into the hands of Viking raiders, settled at Dunholm (Durham) on a site that was defensively favourable due to the horseshoe-like path of the River Wear.[14] St Cuthbert's remains were placed in a shrine in the White Church, which was originally a wooden structure but was eventually fortified into a stone building.

County Palatine of Durham