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History “I was born over the road in Beacon Hill in 1942, and it was run down when I went down for eggs as a kid… It was never a posh place, but it was occupied by some old time farmers – lovely people” (Malcolm Hall of Kirklevington). Although it was originally a village, Little Burdon is a small Hamlet located just outside Darlington, near the village of Sadberge. Most of the Hamlet consists of a Grade II listed farm that was constructed sometime in the 18th century (mid-1700s). It is rumoured that the Little Burdon estate once belonged to the Burdon family; a well-established gentry family who were widely dispersed across County Durham from the late 14th century. The Burdons were originally granted land by the Bishop of Durham in 1337 and, subsequently, they were able to build their first house. Like most families who were given land, they prospered, and before long they had several properties across Durham. The farm was built much later by notable Burdon descendants, but it served well to extend the small Burdon ‘empire’ and the villages that bore their name – Great Burdon, Little Burdon, Old Burdon and Town Burdon. A recent report suggests that the last residents of Little Burdon were two brothers, Harry and Gordon Barron. Gordon was well-known for breeding prize-winning Clydesdale horses; many of the horses Gordon bred won the stallion class at the Great Yorkshire Show. Unfortunately, however, in 1995 a band of masked robbers ransacked the farmstead after tying the Barron Brothers up at knifepoint. This was the first robbery ever recorded at Little Burdon, and it was also one of the last times the Barrons of Burdon were ever mentioned in any form of archive. While both of the brothers survived the attack, they never returned to their home after the incident. Consequently, after the turn of the millennium the farmstead had deteriorated badly. Described as ‘an extensive renovation project’, the property was later sold at auction in 2013, for £175,000, but no work was ever started to try save the buildings. As for Harry and Gordon Barron, sadly two deaths under their names were registered in 1996 (Harry – aged 82 years old) and 1997 (Gordon – aged 77 years old). Our Version of Events Little Burdon seems to be one of those places you rarely ever stop at. Since the A66 runs past, and there’s no obvious reason to get out of the car around this area, you can easily miss the old Grade II listed farmstead that is slowly falling apart. We have noticed it many times before, but have also ignored it on every occasion. This time, however, we decided to have a quick poke around because, recently, we’ve been trying to cover more places that are closer to home. It’s really easy to overlook them, but sometimes the things on your doorstep can be quite interesting and more often than not they are worth checking out. Given that the old farm is in the middle of nowhere, and it no longer has any windows or doors, access wasn’t very difficult at all. Other than an empty car parked outside the main farmhouse, the place was silent too. After stepping over some rubble to enter the site, we chose to start off in what appeared to be the former courtyard. From here we were able to access the stables, old storage areas, sties and finally the farmhouse itself. From the offset we weren’t expecting to find anything amazing. It’s pretty clear from the roadside that the building is absolutely fucked. Nevertheless, as the site has some interesting history attached to it, we felt it was worth a quick look. All in all, some of the rooms are fairly interesting, and there are a couple of photogenic fireplaces, but, aside from that, there’s very little else inside. It was only afterwards that we discovered there is a famous lead firemark positioned on one of the walls inside, which signifies that someone took out an insurance policy with the Globe Insurance Company in the 19th century. Unfortunately, it didn’t appear in any of our shots either, which is a shame, but we ‘borrowed’ a photo of it to show you all and save us having to go back. After spending twenty minutes or so on the site, and pretty much ready to head back to the car, we were suddenly aware that someone else was nearby. We could hear some loud rustling in the grass around the corner from us. This is how it usually goes of course… You’re exploring the worst derps imaginable and someone happens catches you snooping around. Rather than hide or slip away, though, as we might have done on a site that wasn’t falling apart, we decided we’d be sociable and go talk to whoever it was; perhaps they’d know a little something about the place? As it turned out, however, we’d simply stumbled upon the owners of the car parked outside the front of the farmhouse. An embarrassed-looking couple were emerging from the bushes around the back, just as we turned the corner. The guy did a quick check of his fly as he properly clocked us, and his female companion appeared to be straightening her jacket. That’s what it looked like anyway. Both appeared to be very smartly dressed too – not quite the attire you’d expect for walking. We can only wonder what they were up to, hiding there in the bushes together… Explored with Ford Mayhem and Box. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18: 19: 20: 21: 22: 23: 24: 25: 26: 27: 28: 29: