ACCORDING to the winter issue of the Darlington Drinker magazine, The Stanwick Arms at Aldbrough St John has closed.

The pub’s website has disappeared, its telephone number doesn’t work, and when Memories cycled past it over the holidays it looked completely closed.

It would be a great loss to the village to the west of Darlington if it were to disappear forever because it has been Aldbrough’s hub since it was created in the late 1860s by Eleanor, the Dowager Duchess of Northumberland.

Eleanor came to live in the now demolished Stanwick Hall, a couple of miles from Aldbrough, in 1865 when her husband, the Duke of Northumberland, died at Alnwick Castle. Stanwick Hall was an outpost of the family’s estate where minor members were allowed to live out their days without bothering the duke in his distant castle.

But Eleanor was a young widow, only 44-years-old, and she would live at Stanwick for 46 years, immersing herself in the lives of the villages around her.

She had a profound effect on Albrough St John. In the 1870s, she enlarged the school and built the post and telegraph office; in the 1880s, she replaced the ford over the beck in the middle of the village with a substantial road bridge; in the 1890s, she built St Paul’s Church.

And when she arrived in 1865, she was disappointed to find the unruly villagers of Aldbrough drinking and carousing in the village’s three pubs throughout the Sabbath day. So she ordered that all three of the pubs should be closed, and she allowed the Stanwick Arms to start up – as long as it only served on six days of the week and that it would remain shut on the Sunday.