©Vivien Ellis 18/06/03


Snippets from the Parish Register of St. Andrew, Aycliffe

Information found at the start or end, or even in the midst of the pages of the parish register can make interesting reading. Here are a few snippets:

In contrast to the current County Council school plans, which may close Aycliffe Primary School, in 1837 the school rooms had been extended by the addition of the North gate 20 ft. sq. Before this the school house at Aycliffe had been built by subscription AD 1745 and again enlarged towards the East AD 1813. In May 1837 the school-master, Mr Richard Harrison, had been elected.

The Vicarage House was rebuilt and considerably enlarged in 1832. There was a well by the Vicarage House front door, 34 feet deep, which was opened and cleaned out July 15, 1857.

Eleven elm and beech trees and five spruce fir trees were planted in the Church yard February 4 th 1837. This is in addition to the one hundred pine forest trees the vicar had planted in January 1832. These, it is noted, were all dead by 1857 but for one - a lime tree.

Even earlier than these events is the note on page 255 running sideways up the page, dating from 1729. "This year 1729, corn was so scarce, that a famine would have occurred, but that it pleased God to send us a

to supply our needs. Laus Deo (Praise to God).

Most interesting of all is a note at the bottom of page 279, scarcely visible and almost missed. The weather for 1811 was as follows: The Spring was unseasonably warm, this Summer temperate and the Autumn fine. The following year was remarkable for scarcity in general and for murder and flood.

Just before the weather was the report that a great comet made its appearance in April 1811 and was visible until after Martinmas. Its radiance was very prestigious. After doing a search on the Internet I found that this comet is just known as the Great Comet of 1811.