Family History

Find your roots in the North East of England

There is a growing interest in family history. Many people around the UK and indeed the world can trace their family origins to the North East of England.

Researching your family history starts, of course, with collecting as much information as you can from living relatives, and building up a family tree starting from yourself and immediate family. Include birth or baptism dates, marriages and details of deaths or burials.

If you have family roots in the North East of England, we hope this page will help you take your search a stage further. And once you have done your research you will probably wish to visit places associated with your family history, including parish churches. If your family place names are not found in this Spirit in Stone website, try looking at www.achurchnearyou.com.

A big part of your research will be to explore Parish registers. Many registers have been microfilmed and several have been transcribed and indexed. Information about the family history records in Northumberland Archives at Woodhorn and Durham County Record Office, include Church of England parish registers dating back to the 16th century and nonconformist church registers, plus links to all the main sources used by family historians, including wills, census and birth, marriage and death records.

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    Exterior of St James & St Basil
    Art and Architecture

    J’s and B’s is a beautiful Arts and Crafts church built in 1931, open daily for prayer and reflection. 

    Looking North East to St Pauls

    Here you can see the 7th Century building where the Saxon monk St. Bede worshiped and the 11th Century Norman tower.

    Sunderland Minster

    A beautiful serene example of an ancient church surviving in a modern age with something for everyone to enjoy and nice friendly staff who are more than happy to help.

    Whitley Bay St paul's Church view from Whitley Road
    Whitley Bay
    The church was built in 1864 and paid for by the Fourth Duke of Northumberland and designed by Anthony Salvin renowned architect of the romantic period.
    In the grave yard are located three of Whitley's famours men namely Thomas Thompson known as the father of Whitley Bay, Capt. William Wookey of the Horse Artillery who served in the Crimea war and Capt. Thomas Henderson one of the pioneers of the Royal Flying corps during the First World War and who flew in support of Lawrence of Arabia who he knew well. There are also graves of those who served during the First World War.
    Exterior of St Edmunds

    St Edmund's is a rare example of a 13th century pilgrim's chapel and is also the home of a new gallery, Sanctuary Artspace.

    Front of St Mary's at Seaham

    'One of the finest small churches in the country dating back to the 7th/8th century' according to E. Fernie, 'Anglo Saxon Churches'

    View of St Wilfrid's

    Beautiful light 14th century Grade 1 listed church in which Capability Brown was baptised. This little church consists simply of a nave and chancel, but has striking interior features.

    St Michaels Church in Alnwick

    Spacious perpendicular style church with many medieval features, e.g., Hotspur pillar. 1464 charter of Henry VI that two 'burgesses' of Alnwick rebuilt their church. Patronage of Dukes of Northumberland; Percy connection.

    Church External

    The Church was founded in the 12th century and retains some of the Norman stonework. The South Chapel of Our Lady contains the 15th century tomb of Sir Ralph Grey and his wife Elizabeth.

    South Aisle Porch and Tower

    Ancient Parish Church, over 700 years old, set in a peaceful churchyard with a glorious fourteenth century Tree of Jesse window.


    A small Grade 2 listed church in a unique and beautiful location. The current church was consecrated in 1100.

    Outside St Aidans in Bamburgh

    A church was founded on this site in 635 by St Aidan; the site of his death is marked by a shrine within the present church which dates from the end of the 12th century. A squint, a fine reredos, and a memorial to the Victorian heroine are amongst some of the many treasures of this delightful parish church.

    Exterior of Easington Parish Church

    Twelfth Century Grade I listed building with a historic place in the Durham Diocesan history.

    Church and Graveyard
    Barnard Castle

    A church with links to Richard III, a rare indoor labyrinth and one of the largest fonts in the country.

    St Thomas the Apostles Church

    Historic St Thomas’ Church and fossil tree is in Stanhope, an area of outstanding natural beauty.

    Beltingham St Cuthbert's Church - outside

    A regularly used beautiful old church, set in a quiet historical corner of Northumberland.

    St Mary Magdalene at Trimdon

    Built in 1155 we have a Norman chancel with an unusual horseshoe arch.

    Holy Trinity at Horsley

    Built in 1844 by 2nd Lord Redesdale - architects J & B Green. Important estate church with strong links to the Mitford family.

    St Edwin's Church

    This beautiful 12th century church (with 14th century spire) stands high above the River Tees. Coniscliffe means King’s Cliff; Edwin was first Christian King of Northumbria.

    St Gregorys Church in Kirknewton

    'More to this church than meets the eye' (Pevsner). A site of Christian worship since the 11th century or earlier, the chancel and south transept date from the late 15th century.

    St Andrews Church in Corbridge
    Important Saxon Church. Impressive 13thC remains - particularly east end lancet windows. Roman arch to baptistery. 14thC Vicar's Pele, built of Roman stones, in churchyard - needed because of Scots raids from 1296.
    St Peter's at Monkwearmouth

    The monastery and original home of the Venerable Bede, monk and scholar, AD 674.

    St Mary's at Stamfordham

    A stunning Grade 1 listed church with Saxon origins. Lots of fascinating ancient monuments and a beautiful churchyard.

    Exterior of All Saints, Lanchester

    Founded 1147. Roman pillars and altar. Mediaeval glass & misericords. Squinch arch. Locomotive pioneer. Mice galore and much more!

    Exterior of St Oswald's

    A 12th-century church with fine stained glass, woodwork, sculpture and bells, and a beautiful and interesting churchyard.

    St Mark's Church exterior
    Allendale Town

    St. Mark’s Church at Ninebanks offers breathtaking views over the remote West Allen valley and a fascinating local history and is on the Isaac’s Tea Trail North Pennines Heritage Walk

    Exterior of St Mary's at Etal

    Set in the grounds of Etal Manor, this church (designed by William Butterfield) was built 1856-58 by Lady Augusta FitzClarence as a burial place for her husband Lord Frederick (one of the illegitimate sons of King William IV ).

    St Mary the Virgin Church in Ovingham

    Late Saxon West Tower, 12th Century porch, original long lancet windows at east end.

    St James

    Opened in 1833, designed by celebrated Newcastle architect John Dobson, the church has many historical and architectural features of interest. Its graveyard contains many significant memorials.

    Porch in bloom

    St. Mary's has been at the heart of the community for many centuries and is an important historic treasure of Tyneside.

    Holy Trinity at Matfen

    A beautiful 19th-century church with a fine spire, a lovely atmosphere and a beautiful churchyard.

    The Tower

    Ancroft Church is dedicated to St Anne, the mother of Mary, so the granny of Jesus. Follow the trail quiz and climb to the top of the tower to see the sea.

    Church Exterior

    A Chapel of Ease built in 1786. Has a wonderful window commemorating the work people who died while the Catcleugh dam was built from 1894-1905.

    Exterior of St George's in Jesmond

    St. George’s, Jesmond, a Grade I listed nineteenth century church is ‘one of the outstanding ecclesiastical buildings in the north of England’.

    Listed 18th Century Tombstone

    Visitors, sometime from as far away as Australia and the USA have described the church in the visitors book as ‘impressive’ and ‘lovely; they admire the particular peaceful quality of the building.

    High House Chapel and Museum
    Bishop Auckland

    High House Chapel is the oldest purpose built Methodist Chapel in continuous use since it was built in 1760.

    St Michael & All Angels Church

    This stunning ancient parish church is a place of revelation, hope and encounter where you will find 1000 years of Christianity and 4000 years of human history.

    St Cuthberts Church in Elsdon

    14th Century church, Roman tombstone, medieval grave covers, exquisite windows, historic churchyard, 18th century carved headstones, two medieval stone coffins.

    Exterior of St Mary & St Cuthbert's

    A beautiful 13th Century church with a well preserved Anker's House Museum, it houses a copy of the Lindesfarne Gospels.

    St Paul's Exterior

    Tranquil ancient sacred space and historically important Flodden Battlefield church.

    Outside St Cuthberts Church in Norham

    Described by Simon Jenkins in his "England's Thousand Best Churches" as a "mini-Durham Cathedral".

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