COATHAM MUNDEVILLE has one of the best names of any settlement in our area.

It comes about because the Amundeville family were given land there after they came over with William the Conqueror in 1066 – there’s a small town of Mondeville, near Caen, in Normandy in northern France, so perhaps the Amundevilles originated from there.

In 1274, as we told in Memories 471, Thomas de Amundeville left money so that a chaplain could celebrate a mass every day in a chapel in the village to ensure that himself and his parents rested happily in heaven.

The Northern Echo: The St Mary Magdalene church, Coatham Mundeville, was built in 1864 but has been a private house since 1979The St Mary Magdalene church, Coatham Mundeville, was built in 1864 but has been a private house since 1979

The last mention of the chapel is in 1680 when it was said to be in ruins, although its cemetery had long been used for burials.

“The site of the chapel is marked on old Ordnance Survey maps as being in the field behind the Foresters Arms,” says Christina Lupton, whose parents ran the pub in the 1950s and 1960s. “When we had a very hot summer, we could see the outline of it in the dried grass, as the pub car park was then very small.”

The Northern Echo:

Coatham Mundeville’s lack of a chapel was remedied in 1864 when one was built on the west of the crossroads. It was by a London architect, Robert Jewell Withers, who designed about 100 churches, although this seems to have been his most northerly commission.

The church, dedicated once more to St Mary Magdalene, was sold for £6,700 in 1979 and converted into a three-bedroom private house. Three stained glass windows were removed from it and went into a chapel in Aycliffe, and Anthony Magrys tells us that the First World War plaque, remembering the seven local lads who gave their lives, was moved to Brafferton village hall.

The Northern Echo: The Coatham Mundeville crossroads at The Foresters ArmsThe Coatham Mundeville crossroads at The Foresters Arms

SPECTOR DETECTORS, a group of south Durham paranormal investigators, visited the Foresters Arms a few years ago, inspired after an evening at the Georgian Theatre in Stockton which they discovered was haunted by a chap from Coatham Mundeville.

“In the pool room, we kept seeing a large figure walking past the door in the bar,” says their report. “We picked up on a man who walked with a limp. We also picked up on plague victims, an old church and an older lady with a stoop wearing a long grey dress and a white apron. We also picked up on a fire and people dying in it.”

The Northern Echo: The former church at Coatham MundevilleThe former church at Coatham Mundeville

The history books don’t seem to record a major fire at Coatham Mundeville, but in September 1349 the Black Death arrived and killed “four ploughmen in the neighbouring vill of Coatham Mundeville”. Perhaps they were buried in the churchyard behind the pub.

In the second half of the 14th Century, the population of County Durham decreased by 45 per cent due to the Black Death.