Benfieldside is an ancient parish and has its origins right back into the dark ages. Benfieldside itself does not exist now as a village but incorporates the villages of Shotley Bridge, Blackhill and Bridgehill as an ecclesiastical Parish. It was also famous as having one of the first Quaker Meeting Houses, built back in the 1650’s. The original
Meeting house was replaced in 1700 and this building is still in existence today along “Benfieldside Road”, the only place in which the name Benfieldside survives in the area, along with the infant and junior school and Church.
The Quaker house was also famous as the place where the devil was said to have appeared. In Turner upon Providence he relates “the devil in much wrath appeared to snatch the key which was to imprison him forever”. It was also witnessed by one John Hunter from Medomsley who said that when he had attended a meeting of this new religious sect called the Quakers the devil appeared. Mr Hunter gave the date of 19th August 1654. There are numerous mention of this throughout the history books and books of the area dating from the 1700’s to the 1900’s.
Benfieldside along with Consett and Corbridge are all said to have been named after 3 mythical giants mentioned in the epic poem Ode to the River Derwent by John Carr 1732-1807:
In elder time giants uprear’d
Their heads, and affronted the skies;
Cor, Ben, Con, terrific appear’d,
With names of anomalous size.
A hammer in common they had,
And the use of it easy to all;
Each whistled, each brother was glad
To throw it three leagues at his call.
There are other versions of the Giants story which names Mug for Muggleswick instead of Cor.
Consett & District Heritage Initiative, along with a number of other local groups, will be holding an Exhibition of local interest on Wed 15th – Sat 18th May at St Patrick’s Church Hall, Consett. Openning times will be 12pm – 4.30pm Wed & Thurs and 10.30 am – 4.30pm Fri & Sat. Entry is free to all. So why not pop along and have a look and a good chat.