Robin Hood Pond (Thorpe Thewles)

From International Robin Hood Bibliography
Coordinate 54.617135, -1.36909
Adm. div. Durham
Vicinity c. 1.6 km NNW of Thorpe Thewles, Grindon, Stockton-on-Tees
Type Natural feature
Interest Robin Hood name
Status Extant (recently reintroduced)
First Record 1842
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The site of Robin Hood's Pond.
The site of Robin Hood Pond, 19 July 2017 / Photo courtesy Bob Mullen.

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2017-04-09. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2022-04-22. Photos and additional information kindly provided by Bob Mullen, in part via Paul Dunnill, of the Thorpe Thewles Local History Group.

Robin Hood Pond is listed as a field in the English Place-Name Society's volume on Durham,[1] which cites as its source an 1842 tithe award for Thorpe Thewles,[2] in which it is categorized as pasture with an area of 9 acres, 1 rood and 20 perches (37939.28 m2), the owner a William Russell, Esq., the occupiers William and Thomas Wheatley. As one would expect, the name refers properly to a pond within this piece of land. On the 6" O.S. maps of the area published 1859 to 1947 it can be clearly seen a few meters NW of a northeast-pointing tentacle of Thorpe Wood on that wood's eastern side (see links in Maps section below). Since 1939, when the area was surveyed for the most recent of these maps, the woody tentacle has stretched north to include at its tip the site of the little pond, which was already in 1859 shown with three trees to its immediate north. The site is located c. 275 m NW of Fulthorpe Farm. I have listed Robin Hood Pond as a natural feature, but it may of course have been dug by a farmer as a watering hole for livestock.

As of 9 April 2017, a Google search yielded no results for this locality, so I posted a request for information on the Thorpe Thewles History Group Forum.[3] I am grateful to Bob Mullen of the local history group for braving thistles and nettles to inspect the site and provide me with photographs (included on this page). Since the site belongs to a working farm, Fulthorpe Farm, it is not accessible to the public, but Mr Mullen was kindly allowed to inspect it by the present owner, who was able to identify the locality from the maps brought by Mr Mullen, who notes that, as members of the local history group expected, the area "was completely dried up", but "three individual pond areas [were] still definable but completely filled with thistles, nettles [...] and mature trees. All the becks in Thorpe Wood were also completely dry so presumably it would have to be a sustained period of rain before the ponds saw water".[4] The owner of the farm, who has lived there for twenty years, had never heard the name 'Robin Hood Pond' before being contacted by Bob Mullen. The name had been lost; so much so, in fact, that not even members of Thorpe Thewles Local History Group were aware of it, but now, Paul Dunnill notes, "the name Robin Hood’s pond has been restored – all at the history group are mentioning it at every opportunity possible. No doubt when family visit the farm all the children will be made aware."[4] He agrees that since the site is located on high ground the pond may have been a man-made watering hole.

Bob Mullen mailed me additional information on 31 July 2017:

I visited the pond by following a Public Right of Way path around the Wynyard Woodland Park boundary which included Thorpe Wood. The pond was located as per your website entry, confirmed by my GPS unit. The pond was in a heavily overgrown depression at the edge of a large cornfield. As can be seen from the photos it has a number of mature trees in the middle of the depression and the pond area was thick with stinging nettles and thistles.

The pond or ponds are fed from a stream originating from a higher point within Thorpe Wood, this is natural drainage, not a spring. This beck was absolutely dry as were all the becks within the Woodland Park at the time. I actually fell into the pond area having tripped on a bramble runner and can confirm that at some recent time (winter?) it had contained water but was presently only squidgy mud.

Our group and other residents we asked in Thorpe Thewles had not heard of the Robin Hood pond or were aware of any reason it may have been called so. I visited the farmhouse about 200 metres across the cornfield from the pond. The farmer's wife was aware of the pond but didn't recognise the name of Robin Hood pond, in fact the farmer and his wife had no specific name for the pond.


MS sources

Printed sources