Monkseaton Through the Years

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Monkseaton Village

C.P. Scott (Chimney Sweep and Drain Specialist) with his workmen in Bygate Road, c.1930.
Despite the fact that over the past 90 years Monkseaton Village has been absorbed into the urban confines of the nearby town of Whitley Bay, its history pre-dates that town by many years, and to anyone who resides in Monkseaton, the place is still referred to as "The Village".

Over the years, many changes have taken place, most of which have been so gradual that they have simply passed by unnoticed. Many of the old farms and buildings that once stood in Monkseaton Village have long since disappeared and remain only as distant memories. The rest sadly, have long since been forgotten.

Monkseaton has a long historical past, and dates back to at least the 12th century, when it was simply known as "Seton". This is probably a derivative of the words "sea" and "tun", i.e. the village being near to the sea, and a tun, meaning a hill or rise.

When King Henry I granted lands to the Prior of Tynemouth c.1106, the name was altered to "Seton Monachorum". The prefix "Monk" is often found in connection with places belonging to religious houses, and so in this case it became known as Monk Seaton, or Seaton of the Monks.

"Monk Seton" shown on John Speede's map of 1610.
From the 13th to the 18th century there are frequent references, monastic and civil, relating to the farms and dwellings, and some names mentioned are of local interest, perhaps the most noticeable of which is that of the Mills family. A Thomas Mills held farms, and in 1688 resided in the farmhouse, which stood on the site of the Ship Inn. His grandson, also called Thomas, died at his house on 18th November 1775, having been the curate of Jarrow with Heworth.

Of the village itself, little can be recorded other than historical references but it would appear that judging by the standards of those bygone days, it was a place of some importance. From the year 1577 coal was worked on the land of the Village Farm.

During the 1700s and 1800s, some of the outlying farms of Monkseaton Village encompassed the area called Whitley Hill Heads to the south-east, with others extending as far as the villages of New York and Murton Villages to the south-west, and the northern boundary of Earsdon Village.

In 1893, a local historian called William Weaver Tomlinson wrote a book entitled 'Cullercoats, Whitley and Monkseaton', which contains an interesting factual history of the area during the latter part of the 1800s.

Throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries there were many of the usual tradespeople such as blacksmiths, shoemakers and shopkeepers. There was a brewery, and with 3 or more inns, the population which varied between 427 in 1801 rising to 952 by the year 1901, was well catered for with ale!

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Writers and Historians

Charlie Dunn's Milk Delivery Horse & Trap from Red House Farm.
It is of interest to note how the writers and historians of earlier years summed up the village:

"Monkseaton is a pleasant village, situated three and a half miles north-west by north from Tynemouth to which parish it belongs, and contains some well built houses belonging to different gentlemen and farmers. Here are also three Public Houses and one Brewery."

"Monkseaton is a pleasant village, situated three and a half miles north-west-by-north from Tynemouth. It contains five Farmholds, a Methodist Meeting House, two Public Houses and a large Brewery belonging to Messrs. Dryden & Co."

"Monkseaton is an irregularly built village of no trade, with the exception of a respectable Brewery belonging to Messrs. Sinclair & Co."

"As I approached the pretty little whitewashed village of Monkseaton from the west side, it was pleasing to hear the incessant tapping of the hammers of the local tinkers.

"At close hand the people of the place were disappointing. The tinkers were industrious only by fits and starts and did not look upon the village as their particular or cherished abode. They treated it as a sort of workshop and spent much of their time wandering the country, selling their wares and carousing."

The Monkseaton Wesleyan Sunday School in Chapel Lane c.1905.
"Monkseaton is a pretty little village, formerly the sea town of the monks of Tynemouth. When its garden trees are in full leaf, the village has a very picturesque appearance, situated as it is, on a very slight eminence, and many visitors who wish to combine some of the charms of the country with those of the seaside, patronise it during the summer months."

"We recommend Monkseaton, with a walk to the shore before noon, and a rest after lunch, with a country stroll in the evening. To many people, the rural situation, a little from the Links with the slightly elevated position, forms a strong attraction.

"Monkseaton Village itself is chiefly of good new houses, but there is sufficient of the old characteristic to make the place interesting as it is quiet and beautiful. Much has been done in the use of foliage to make the district attractive and it is rapidly becoming a charming and popular resort and the chief residential suburb of Newcastle upon Tyne, for such it would seem nature has destined it."

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    Monkseaton in The Present Day

Today, Monkseaton remains a busy, bustling village community. Image © D.J. McKee.
Sadly, since these colourful descriptions above were written, the farms have gradually disappeared, and have been replaced with business premises, houses and shops.

Housing estates now cover the many fields that were once dotted with wells and water pumps.

Trees and hedgerows have been uprooted and cleared to accommodate new and wider roads, and a car park has replaced what was once the village green.

A different place today from what was once "Seton Monachorum" ("The Seaton of the Monks").

The areas that skirt the outer boundary of Monkseaton to the southeast are Hillheads (formerly known as Whitley Hill Heads), along with the villages of New York and Murton to the south-west, and Earsdon to the north. Although these villages have now been incorporated into the suburbs of neighbouring Whitley Bay and North Shields, they are still considered by the local residents as villages in their own right, all of which have their unique story to tell.

Browsing this site may bring back some memories to the older folk that remember Monkseaton and the nearby villages as they used to be, and for the younger generation it will hopefully serve to show a little about how the area looked in days gone by.
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