One of only two villages with no through roads in the original County of Durham, (the other is Escomb), the peaceful atmosphere of Thornley Village is very different from the bustle of Wolsingham.There is evidence of an Iron Age/Romano-British settlement lying about 1/4 mile to the north west of Thornley Hall (see picture above), but of the present settlement, only Greenwell Farm is mentioned in the Boldon Book (County Durham’s equivalent of the Domesday Book, compiled by the order of Bishop Pudsey in 1183). At that time Greenwell was held by James, the son of William who was the priest of Wolsingham.
By the time of Bishop Hatfield (1345-1381) Lord Neville held both Thornley and the village of Greenwell and Pevesner says that there was once a Mediaeval village, now deserted, reached by an ash tree avenue. Half the earthworks now lie beneath Thornley Hall and the remainder to the north in what was once the landscape park.
The present Thornley Hall has a nine bay, two-and-a-half-storey cl8 stone facade with brick voussoirs to the window openings. Inside, two panelled rooms, arched cellars and a doorway with a drawbar are traces of an earlier house.
Continue to part 2