The original settlement of Croxdale dates from the C12th and was built around Croxdale Hall just to the north east. The present settlement along the A167 was built to house miners from the local pits.
Driving past I noticed through the trees what looked like a Norman tower. I stopped to take pictures of what I assumed was a perfect example of a Norman Church, with west tower, nave and small chancel and a later addition to the north. There were typical Norman doorways with round arches decorated with dog tooth carving. The nave windows were simple round topped windows but those in the chancel had surrounding pillars and more dog toothed carving. It looked wonderful – almost too good to be true…
It wasn’t until I got home and began looking for information on the internet I discovered how wrong I was.
My ‘perfect’ Norman church was in fact built between 1843-6. The owners of Croxdale Hall had opened a new mine and had built a church for the miners settling in the area. Before this, the villagers had used a small chapel in the Hall grounds.
Although Croxdale Pit closed in 1870, another colliery was open close by, employing over 500 men. New terrace housing was built along what is now the A167 for accommodate the miners and their families. St Bartholomew’s Church was extended between 1876-8 and a school was built in the church grounds. This is now the Parish Hall.
The church is kept locked, although the church wardens are happy to open up for visitors. I understand the inside is a perfect reconstruction of a Norman church too… It may not be the ‘real thing’ but is still a lovely small church.
The nearest post code is DH6 5HA and the grid reference is NZ 267376.