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Etymology and history
Hesleden is believed to be derived from the local word Dene(den) meaning a deep forested Valley, and Hesle a corruption of Hazel, so the original meaning may have been, "Forested Valley of the Hazel trees", which are common in the, Nesbit, Crimdon and Hessleden Denes, that border the village. As for the "Monk", that may either refer to the Church which, once existed, or perhaps some earlier monastic foundation. Or that more likely, the lands around it may have once belonged to the Bishopric of Durham. This had been a common feature, throughout the Palatine of Durham, before the Reformation. The Prince Bishops, later Bishops, had an Archdeaconry in nearby Easington, and it is recorded that a great deal of land in the area lay under their ownership.
The Church of St. Marys, at Monk Hesleden can be dated as far back as the 13th century, though by the time it was photographed in the 19th century, it had been greatly altered, giving the impression, externally at least, of a much later structure, almost Georgian in style. For a long time, St. Marys' was the only local church, until the construction of St. James at Castle Eden, in the 1760s. Even with the advent of the collieries at Blackhall, Hesleden, and Horden, for a great deal of time, St. Mary's was the only local Anglican church, and with Castle Eden, the only local cemetery, so despite the village's dwindling population, the church had survived. Unfortunately the church received some minor vandalism in the 1960s, and the council demolished the structure, leaving us today with only the Graveyard and a post, somewhat like a tombstone, marking the site. Despite the disappearance of the church, the parish lives on in name, and following the reorganisation of parishes in the 1980s, now includes the churches of St. James at Castle Eden, St. Andrews at Blackhall, St Marys in Horden, St. Cuthbert in Peterlee, and the Church at Hesleden.
Today only one cottage (once part of a row of cottages, as you enter by the one road, into the village), Browns' Farm, the former Rectory, as well as, a couple of more recent bungalows, are all that remain of the village.
Media related to Monk Hesleden at Wikimedia Commons
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