Darlington’s Hidden Burial Ground

by Matt Falcus

The history of Darlington during its time of greatest growth is intertwined with the Quakers, or the Religious Society of Friends, who lived in the town and had great influence on its business and society.

Today, hidden away right in the heart of Darlington, is a burial ground where many of the influential and well-known Quakers who lived there are buried, out of sight of the hustle and bustle going on all around.

And you can visit it!


Darlington’s Quaker History

Edward Pease, a woollen manufacturer from Darlington who was the main promoter of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, which opened in 1825. He is sometimes referred to as the “Father of the Railways”.

You may be aware that Darlington’s football team is known as The Quakers. However, members of this religion came to the town during the 1800s, where they became financiers, bankers, businessmen and philanthropists.

Among their works were the founding of Backhouse Bank in Darlington (which went on to become Barclays Bank), fund and direct the Stockton & Darlington Railway (the first public railway in the world), the creation and development of both Middlesbrough and Saltburn.

They were also heavily involved in running industry in the town, like mills and factories, as well as giving to charitable causes and other areas of need to better the life of the people of Darlington.

Famous Quaker names during this period include: Henry Pease, Joseph Pease, Edward Pease, Mary Pease, Alfred Backhouse, Jonathan Backhouse, Mary Hodgkin, Theodore West and Alfred Kitching.


Quaker Burial Ground

On land behind the Friends Meeting House on Skinnergate in central Darlington, a quiet burial ground was created in the 17th century.

Here, successive Quakers from the town and surrounding areas were buried over the years, with some 1,000 graves now thought to be present!

Discrete entrance to the Quaker burial ground on Skinnergate in central Darlington.

Walking along Skinnergate today, you would easily pass the burial ground, for it is hidden behind the buildings and accessed through a small archway with only a small sign to indicate the way.

But the haven of peace is accessible to anyone who wants to wander in an admire the place (respectfully).

Many of those well-known Quakers listed above are buried in this place. However, it is difficult to find them all due to the age of the lettering on the gravestones.

Here’s a link to a page with more information on the people buried there, and a map of their locations: http://www.aboutdarlington.co.uk/friends-burial-ground/

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