Boldron is a small village of around 40 houses and a number of outlying farms in Teesdale, part of the North Pennine area of England.  Boldron was in the North Riding of Yorkshire until 1974 and is currently in County Durham.  

Detail of Boldron Tithe Map, 1841
Detail of Boldron Tithe Map, 1841

Early History

The name Boldron has been said to mean “bull clearing” in old Norse. There is other evidence of a Viking presence in the area with the name Thorsgill Beck used for the stream in the parish.

Boldron lies less than half a mile from the road that leads to Stainmore Pass, an ancient route way across the North Pennines; the Romans and later the Normans built forts at Bowes (2 miles away from Boldron) to guard it.  

Boldron Well is alternately called Athelstan’s well – did King Athelstan stop near here on his travels in the North?

There is no mention of Boldron or Bowes in the Domesday Book, (possibly due to the harrying of the North in the decade previously) but the villages were part of the Earl of Richmond’s holdings in later Norman times.

Boldron Well
Boldron Well, otherwise known as Athelstan's Well

Medieval History

The surrounding fields show signs of medieval ridge and furrow ploughing and there is evidence of a barmkin (a medieval defensive enclosure) in one of the fields behind the village street.  Although Boldron is many miles from the current border with Scotland, the area was raided by the Scots in the 11th and 14th centuries with Bowes Castle being damaged in both incidents.  Boldron parish is first mentioned in the historical record in the 12th Century, in the settlement of a dispute between the Hospital of St Peter, York and Alan, Rector of Startforth, regarding payment of tithes.  It is also mentioned in the 14th Century as part of the Manor of Bowes.

Boldron Village Green
Boldron Village Green

1600 to the present day

The Manor of Bowes was sold by Charles 1 in 1628 to the citizens of London, and they subsequently sold the manor to a number of freeholders.  The freeholders are now represented by four or five Lords in Trust who continue to hold a Court at least once a year and manage Boldron Village Green.

In the 19th century censuses the main employment in the village was in agriculture and quarrying/stonemasonry.

Boldron lies between two Turnpike Roads and there was a toll bar within the Parish.  The limestone quarries in the surrounding area continue to supply stone to the road building industry.  The railway company started buying land in the area in 1861 and it began operating in 1868; some of the inhabitants of the village in the later Censuses worked on the railways.  The South Durham and Lancashire Union Railway was built to take coke to the blast furnaces in west Cumbria from the Durham coalfield and iron ore from Cumbria to Cleveland.  There were also passenger services operating on the line, with stations at Barnard Castle and Bowes.  The line operated until 1962 when it closed.

For a video of quarrying practices at Hulands Quarry from the early to mid-20th Century see the following from the Yorkshire Film Archive.

Stone Ballasting at Hulands Quarry