Elvet, named from the Anglo-Saxon Aelfet-Ee, meaning swan-island, was first mentioned in 762AD when a Bishop of Whithorn called Peotwine was consecrated there.

Whithorn, in Scotland, is one of Britain's oldest Christian sites, so Elvet was probably a place of importance. Durham, however, does not receive a mention until 233 years later, in 995, when Dun Holm, or "the hill-island" was settled by the carriers of St Cuthbert's coffin. Dun Holm and Elvet were "islands" because they were both surrounded on three sides by the River Wear.

It was New Elvet and not Old Elvet that originally formed the main street of the area. Until the 1930s, Old and New Elvet resembled each other in appearance.

Today, New Elvet lives up to its name since few old buildings remain. The row of shops in New Elvet, near Hallgarth Street, show Tudor-style woodwork, but only date from the 1920s.

On the other side of the road is the even more recent Dunelm House, or university student union building, that overlooks the river. Dating from 1961 to 1965, it was a winner of Royal Institute of British Architects and civic trust awards, but not everyone is convinced by its accolades.

One of New Elvet's most historic buildings is the Three Tuns Hotel, a former coaching inn, dating in parts to the 16th Century. In the Victorian era it belonged to the Brown family and, according to an old saying, Mrs Brown's cherry brandy was one of seven things for which Durham was famed.

Lucky hotel guests were traditionally presented with a free tot of cherry brandy on arrival.

Also in New Elvet, near the junction with Old Elvet and Elvet Bridge, is the Half Moon Inn and next door, the former City Hotel, now an Irish theme bar. Both date in part to the 17th Century.

The City Hotel was a private mansion until the early 19th Century, while the Half Moon, mentioned in the 1851 census, was once a wheelwrights, livery stable and a hiring place for horses and traps.

However, the overall appearance of New Elvet is disappointing, especially when compared with Old Elvet. Unfortunately, the street's extension over the River Wear, via the modern New Elvet Bridge in the 1970s, gave New Elvet the permanent appearance of a through road.

At its southern end, New Elvet splits into Church Street and Hallgarth Street, and both have visible character and history.

Church Street is named after the neighbouring church of St Oswald that dates from Norman times. Pre-conquest sculptures and evidence of an earlier church suggest Peotwine's consecration may have taken place here.

When the Norman Bishop, William St Carileph, built Durham Cathedral, the part of the cathedral centred upon the cloisters was a monastery where monks lived under the leadership of a prior.

In 1083, Carileph gave Elvet, then called the Barony of Elvet, to the monastery. Hallgarth Street was the part of Elvet most closely associated with the cathedral's monastery and was the site of Elvethall manor or the Hall Garth.

The only remnant of the manor is the 15th Century tithe barn, now used as a club by Durham prison officers. A tithe was a kind of taxation in which the prior's tenant farmers gave one tenth of their grain to the monastery.

It is one of Durham's least-known buildings and fortunately, unlike many other parts of Elvet, only just avoided demolition in the 1970s.

* In next week's Durham Memories we will explore the street of Old Elvet.

* If you have memories of Durham, including old photos or stories of people and places you would like to share with The Northern Echo, write to David Simpson, Durham Memories, The Northern Echo, Priestgate, Darlington, DL1 1NF. All photographs will be returned.