Records of rural (or 'area') deans and deaneries
Rural deaneries within the Diocese of Durham


Reference code: GB-0033-DDR/D
Title: Records of rural (or 'area') deans and deaneries
Dates of creation: 1855-1994
Extent: 2 metres
Held by: Durham University Library, Archives and Special Collections
Origination: Records created by rural deans (later known as 'area deans') serving within the diocese of Durham
Language: English

Rural deaneries within the Diocese of Durham

Background essays on the administration of the diocese of Durham generally, and on the classes of records covered within this catalogue, are in the separate guide, Administrative Histories for the Durham Diocesan Records. General bibliographies are also within the same guide, and omitted from this catalogue except for editions of specific records.


These records fall into the following groups: papers re the appointments and duties of rural deans; episcopal correspondence etc re rural deans; material re general meetings involving rural deans; records of individual deaneries, Ruridecanal Chapters and Deanery Synods; and records of rural deans' visitations.

Accession details

Deposited by various office-holders as noted within list

Conditions of access

Items under 30 years old may only be produced if a reader has obtained permission to see them from the depositor (most often the Durham Diocesan Registrar or her/his representative), except for items in the public domain which are made available with no closure period. Longer closure periods apply for certain classes of documents, e.g. personal files are closed for up to 100 years from the date of the latest item in the file. Details are given within this catalogue: unless otherwise stated, a 30 year closure applies.

Copyright and copying

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material
Other sections of the Durham Diocesan Records which include records relating to rural deans include the following:
DDR/EA/CLD includes some records of the appointments of rural deans
DDR/BP/DIO/4: minutes of annual conference of bishop, archdeacons and rural deans at Auckland Castle, 1883-1939

Durham Cathedral archives include a few medieval references to deans of Christianity.
Durham County Record Office: records of rural deans and deaneries are sometimes found among the records of parishes in cases where the incumbent also acted as rural dean. Some references for individual deanery records are included within the list following.


Individual deaneries
Reference: DDR/D/DEN Records within Durham County Record Office include the following.
AucklandMinutes of conference and sub-committee, 1897-1910 (D/X 417/43), statistics and financial statements from parishes, 1934-1940 (D/X 417/44), Committee for church extensions, 1903 (EP/Au SA 109), minutes of Sunday Schools Association, 1933-1970 (EP/Au SA 313)
Barnard CastleMinutes of chapter, 1924-1977 (EP/BC 2/28 and P/Ch/BC 1-2), and of conference, 1966-1968 (EP/BC 2/29)
ChesterMinutes of clergy in eastern division, 1858-1889 (EP/SS.SH 2/187)
DarlingtonConference, Synod, Chapter and Standing Committee minutes and papers, 1947-1976 (EP/Hur 2/20-30, EP/Hur 56-60)
DurhamMinutes, 1918-1968 (EP/Du So 244-245)
Houghton-le-SpringMinutes of Central Missionary Council, 1952-1960 (EP/Ho 476), and of Conference and Synod, 1966-1983 (EP/Ho 528-530 and EP/EI SM)
JarrowRegisters and minutes, 1887-1934 (EP/SS.SH 2/190-192), 1947 (EP/SS.SH 14/298) and 1979-1980 (EP/JG 2/12-), rural dean's correspondence, 1934-1937 (EP/SS.SH 2/196-256), Moral Welfare Association papers (EP/SS.SH 14/309-325), Sunday School Teachers' Association minutes, 1883-1887 (EP/SS.SH 14/158), Sunday School Association report, 1944 (EP/SS.SH 14/289), Finance Committee agendas, 1947-1949 (EP/SS.SH 14/294)
LanchesterMinutes of Conference and Chapter, 1914-1946 (EP/La 89-91), minutes of Mothers' Union, 1932-1949 (EP/Be 29), minutes of Synod, 1971-1975 (EP/Cra 2/27)
StanhopeMinutes of Chapter and Conference, 1884-1954 (EP/St 2/1-2, 5, 192)
StocktonMinutes of Chapter, 1944-1975 (EP/Sto SP 39-41)
SunderlandMinutes of Chapter, 1944-1957 (EP/Pa 35)

DDR/D/DEN/1/1   1880-1892
Minute book for Ryton rural deanery, 1880-1891, with loose inserts to ca.1892
1 volume
Previously referenced as DDR vols XVIII/16
DDR/D/DEN/2   1929-1970
Wearmouth Ruridecenal Conference records
5 volumes plus files (½ box)
Transferred from Tyne and Wear Archives Service, where it was listed as accession 718.
DDR/D/DEN/2/1   18 January 1932 - 28 May 1952
Ruridecanal Conference minute book
DDR/D/DEN/2/2   22 September 1952 - 13 February 1970
Ruridecanal Conference minute book
DDR/D/DEN/2/3   19 December 1929 - 30 November 1948
General Purposes and Finance Committee minute book
DDR/D/DEN/2/4   2 June 1949 - 18 December 1968
General Purposes and Finance Committee minute book
DDR/D/DEN/2/5   10 January - 26 October 1966
Reorganisation Committee minute book
DDR/D/DEN/2/6   1939-1966
General Purposes and Finance Committee papers
Before 1948, only printed annual reports survive (for years ending March 1939 and 1945-1947). Thereafter, papers have been arranged by triennium, reflecting elections to the committee, viz 1948-51, 1951-54, 1954-57, 1957-60, 1960-63, 1963-66 and 1966-69. There are very few papers for 1954-1960 or after 1966.
8 files
DDR/D/DEN/2/7   1961-1963
Moral Welfare Work (also known as Preventative and Rescue Work) Committee papers (also one item from the Assessment Committee regarding diocesan quota)
1 file
DDR/D/DEN/3/1   1859-1877
Darlington (South Division) deanery
1 volume and 1 file
Previously referenced under accession number AUC/1/box 38 (part)
DDR/D/DEN/3/1   1859-1877
Minute book for Darlington (South Division) ruridecanal Chapter (clergy) meetings
Loose in volume are notes for prayers, printed regulations for the government of Bishop Cosin's Library (1835) and population notes with reference to Barrington Prayer Book fund donations (1865)
DDR/D/DEN/3/2   1865-1866 and 1873-1876
Lists of offertories and collections for each parish, showing purpose of collections (formerly loose within minute book above)
none (reference NOT USED)
DDR/D/DEN/5   1859-1994
Easington deanery, including minutes of clergy meetings (from 1880 termed “Chapters”), Ruridecanal Conference (including clergy and lay representatives) and (from 1970) Deanery Synod
5 volumes and 2 folders
Previously referenced under accession number AUC/91 (part)
DDR/D/DEN/5/1   1859 and 1872-1906
Minutes relate to South Easington deanery to 1884, and to Easington deanery from 1886 (none for 1885). Also some meetings of school managers from 1897.
DDR/D/DEN/5/2   1907-1939

DDR/D/DEN/5/3   1940-1961

DDR/D/DEN/5/4   1960-1972
At front, list of dates for Ruridecanal Conference and (from 1966) its Standing Committee
DDR/D/DEN/5/5   9 June 1970 - 8 June 1993
Deanery Synod minutes (volume with many loose inserts)
DDR/D/DEN/5/6   9 September 1983 - 1 December 1989
Deanery Chapter minutes (folder)
DDR/D/DEN/5/7   ca.1993-1994
Miscellaneous papers and minutes relating to Deanery Synod (folder?)
Rural deans' visitations
Reference: DDR/D/VIS Many rural deans' visitation returns for 1865-1919 (chiefly 1880s-1900s) survive within the first series of parish files relating to County Durham parishes, reference DDR/BP/PAR/2

DDR/D/VIS/1/1   1895
Visitation returns from Darlington rural deanery
1 folder
DDR/D/VIS/1/2   1909
Visitation returns from Darlington rural deanery, many including glebe terriers and lists of property
1 folder
Some items damaged by damp and unfit for production until conserved
Visitation returns from deaneries as listed (all in Durham archdeaconry: unknown whether deaneries in Auckland archdeaconry were visited, though note some missing numbers below). Described as an “episcopal visitation to be held by the respective rural deans acting under the authority of the Lord Bishop of Durham”
½ box
Chester-le-Street deanery (excluding Usworth)
Durham deanery
Easington deanery
Gateshead deanery (excluding Leam Lane)
Usworth (in Chester-le-Street deanery)
Houghton-le-Spring deanery
Jarrow deanery
Lanchester deanery
Wearmouth deanery
Leam Lane St Andrew (in Gateshead deanery)
NUMBERS NOT USED (or returns do not survive)
blank form (not completed)
Visitation papers previously retained within the Bishops' Office and currently located under the “AUC” accession references shown:
AUC/1/146Unbound returns, chiefly Durham, Ryton and Wearmouth deaneries, late 19th-early 20th cent.
AUC/1/147Set of visitation returns made by the churchwardens of Waterhouses, 1918
AUC/48/box 8Visitation returns from Auckland deanery, with covering letter summarising main findings, 1923-1924

NONE (reference not used)
The items previously mentioned within this section are now listed among the Bishop's Office records at DDR/BP/DIO/4.