ALL this talk of Stapleton on this blog made me realise I knew very little about this North Yorkshire village on the banks of the River Tees. I presumed there wasn't too much to say about what I guessed was a farming hamlet with a big hill - in pre-operation days, I broke 40mph coming down that hill on my bike. I was wrong:

:: Stapleton is built on the outside of a very tight U-bend performed by the River Tees, the winding river. It is on the river's floodplain, although not in danger of inundation, at the foot of hills about 25 metres high.

:: The original Saxon village is said to have been in a triangular field between the river and the hill. I take this as meaning the field to the east of the main road where Strawgate is (why Strawgate?).

:: 1154: Benedict de Stapleton, who came over with William the Conqueror, was in charge of the village.

:: 13th Century: Nicholas de Stapleton was a rising force in Yorkshire. He gave some land at Stapleton to St Agatha's Abbey at Easby. How the monks must have been happy, until they discovered that it was now their duty to maintain a ferry boat over the Tees at Stapleton. The boat worked alongside an ancient ford.

:: 1314: Miles de Stapleton was one of Edward II's most trusty lieutenants. He made him Lord Stewart of the Household, and there looks to be plenty more about Miles to be unearthed. He was a proper knight, fighting in Gascony and beseiging Scottish towns as the fancy took him. But the Scots had the last laugh: he was killed on June 24, 1314, at the Battle of Bannockburn.

:: 14th Century: There were apparently two chapels at Stapleton: St Leonard's, which belonged to St Agatha's Abbey, and St James', the domestic chapel of the Stapletons. The Stapletons large house was probably in the Garth Field, a wonderful field full of lumps and bumps which cry out from a lost age. The house had either a moat or a fishpond, and was pulled down around 1820.

:: A Mediaeval bridge over the Tees is said to have been washed away by a flood. It is after this bridge that the Bridge Inn is said to have been named (and not Blackwell Bridge of 1833 as I had presumed).

:: 1616: The Stapleton family have disappeared and the village is in the hands of the Pudseys for a couple of generations. In 1616, George Pudsey received a grant from the king of £160pa for as long as his wife, Faith, lives. This is a reward because George's father had lent Mary, Queen of Scots £1,000 which she never repaid.

:: As the Stapletons fall into decline, the chapels disappear, too. The village is in a parish with Croft-on-Tees. Whenever anyone died, it is said that there is a Corpse Walk along the top of Monkend Hills, over a packhorse bridge and into Croft churchyard. The rector of Croft was presumably very happy when someone in Stapleton snuffed it: Monkend Hills were glebe, or church, land and so the corpse had to cough up one shilling to him for the privelege of crossing the land.

:: 1833, the turnpike road from Scotch Corner into Darlington is built, changing the character of Stapleton forever (the Ordnance Survey map says there is a milepost on the north side of Stapleton, but I've never seen it on my bike journeys).

:: The turnpike crosses the Tees at Blackwell Bridge, which is built on foundations of bags of wool. This, apparently, was a common method of the day for bedding the pillars in evenly. Croft railway bridge of 1838-40 is similarly suspended. Of all the characters who have recently featured in Echo Memories, who do you think is credited with coming up with such a ridiculous method of holding up a bridge?

What other snippets should there be?