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County Durham
Escombe Church.jpg
Escombe Church
Grid reference: NZ189300
Location: 54°39’58"N, 1°42’29"W
Post town: Bishop Auckland
Postcode: DL14
Dialling code: 01388
Local Government
Council: Durham
Bishop Auckland

Escomb is a small village in County Durham, 1½ miles west of Bishop Auckland.

Escombe Church

The village is famous for its church, St John's, which is one of the oldest churches in Britain. It is one of only three complete Anglo-Saxon churches remaining in Britain.

The church's settling is inauspicious, within a ring formed by the road in a modern council estate. However the church is of a very different time. It is an early Anglo-Saxon church, built around 670-675, one of the few seventh century churches remaining.

St John's is set in a circular churchyard, and has been in continuous use since Anglo-Saxon times other than a brief interval in the nineteenth century when a new church was built nearby. The Anglo-Saxon fabric was allowed to lie derelict and the building was partly unroofed from 1863 until 1867 when its age and value were rediscovered. A restoration began in 1880.

The church was built using stones brought up the River Wear, acquired from the site of an abandoned Roman town. The provenance of the stones is found in the north wall, in which is a stone bearing the markings "LEG VI" (Sixth Legion), upside down. Further, a complete Roman arch separates the transept from the nave.

The exterior of the church also includes an Anglo-Saxon sundial, of the eighth or ninth century.

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