New blue plaque honours Southwick's ancient history as part of heritage trail in Sunderland community

A new blue plaque honours the history of one of Wearside’s most ancient communities.

Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 12:33 pm

The plaque, a nationally recognised marker of historical significance, will be installed on the south wall of the Green Bean Cafe in Southwick Village Green.

It’s the latest to be installed in the village as part of a heritage trail established by the Southwick Village Green Preservation Society.

The eighth in the trail, it records the origins of the village and its earliest mention in historical documents in 1072.

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A blue plaque heritage trail is forming in Southwick

Peter Gibson, chairperson of Southwick Village Green Preservation Society, said: “Our society is on a roll and we are making the most of our good fortune.

"We have received our eighth heritage blue plaque and we think it is the most important plaque to date as it records the origins of Southwick.

"We are well on the way to our future plan of installing a heritage blue plaque trail interpretation panel on Southwick Green to provide an educational tool for Southwick school children.”

Speaking about the first known mention of Southwick, more than a thousand years ago, he said: “Following the Battle of Hastings in 1066, there was resistance to Norman rule in the north.

Members of Southwick Village Green Preservation Society have received the new plaque

"In 1068 a Norman army of 900 soldiers entered Durham to quell any opposition. In the battle that followed all of them were slain by the Saxon army. A greater army was sent north by William the Conqueror and they slaughtered all before them - men, women, children, and animals.

"The Normans burnt down farms, houses and churches, and ‘laid waste the land from the Tees to the Tyne.’ No doubt Wearside will have suffered during the purge.

"However, despite the massacre, the plaque shows Southwick Village was in existence in 1072 and in the control of the Prior of Durham.”

He added: “In 1079 a second uprising occurred in County Durham when the first Norman Prince Bishop Walcher was assassinated at Gateshead.

The new plaque honour the ancient village's history

"There followed another massacre of the Saxon inhabitants by the Normans leaving the county thinly populated. However, despite the ‘harrying of the north’ the Normans' meticulous records show that Southwick still existed, and in 1083 the second Prince Bishop of Durham William de St Calais transferred the responsibility of the village to the monastery of Monkwearmouth.”

Other blue plaques installed as part of the society’s mission to honour the village’s history include plaques at Stoney Lane, Southwick Neighbourhood Youth Project (SNYP), Scots Bank, the Times Inn and on the Southwick Superstore and post office.

Another plaque on the Green Bean Cafe also honours the lives of Suddickers who lost their lives in the wars. It was recently added to with two Royal British Legion unknown Tommy silhouettes to complement the Lest We Forget Heritage Blue Plaque that is fixed to the wall of The Green Bean Cafe and overlooks Southwick War Memorial.

Silhouettes have been added to the existing plaque on Green Bean Cafe

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Peter Gibson, chairperson of Southwick Village Green Preservation Society and society members, with an existing plaque honouring the fallen at the Green Bean Cafe
The Scot's Bank blue plaque. From left Rita Thompson, Irene Tonkinson, Peter Gibson, John Cuthbertson and Margaret Young.