Witton Gilbert shown within County Durham
|OS grid reference|
|Unitary authority||County Durham|
|Ceremonial county||County Durham|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Fire||County Durham and Darlington|
|EU Parliament||North East England|
|UK Parliament||City of Durham|
The village once had a railway station on the Lanchester Valley Line,but this was closed in the early 1960s, with passenger service withdrawn in the late 1930s. However, the station building survives as a private residence, along with one of the platforms. Witton Gilbert is a medieval town originally Saxon. Witton was originally spelled Witun (Wit meaning white house and Tun meaning fortified place). Gilbert was added later and could be derived from the Norman lord Gilbert de la Ley or a later lord Gilbert de la Latone. In medieval times Witton Gilbert was very central being important to churchmen of Durham and contains a retreat where the great Churchmen resided. Other occupants who visited included royalty such as, King Edward III and queen Phillipa also Edward I.
- Birthplace of former England national football team manager Bobby Robson.
- The 1980s pop band Prefab Sprout were based around Witton Gilbert.
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It was a retreat for the great churchmen of Durham built around 1170AD. The land was given by the Norman lord Gilbert de la Ley. The name Beau Repaire is French and means 'beautiful retreat'. During the following centuries the mansion fell in and out of repair. For example Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries or the Scottish - English war of Neville's Cross which involved destroying the retreat and its animals. The vast lands were consumed with game and tenants with huge walls due to deer. in modern times the mansion is now a ruin with crumbling walls next to the old railway line now turned public footpath.
Gilbert de la Ley also completely financed the building of a leper hospital. The hospital took in five lepers originally which then increased to eight. Wealthy lords often funded hospitals for the lepers because many Christians were deeply concerned for their suffering. The hospital continued to be of service throughout the centuries. They had their own chapel and so were still able to worship. The hospital continued to run until the dissolution of the monasteries when the inmates were dispersed to fend for themselves. From then on the hospital was renovated to a farmhouse and is still intact. The old carved window of the hospital can still be seen from the road and the original entrance is now a doorway inside. The hospital was built around the late 11th century and so is around the same date as Durham Cathedral.
St. Michael and all Angels parish church
Hugh Pudsey the then Bishop of Durham felt the need for a church in Witton due to the fact that St. Oswalds was too far away. The church was built in 1170 AD and still retains some of its medieval features. Later on the church was extended and so there gave more room for people (around 70). originally priests travelled to Witton church once a fortnight for sermons however this became tiresome and so that the church was able to eventually break away and so could conduct its own services.