The name Darlington
No one can say for sure where the name ‘Darlington’ originates, its thought its made up from very small words and has changed throughout its history. We know the elements ‘ing’ and ‘ton’ are from the Anglo-Saxon period. ‘Ing’ refers to a family group and ‘ton’ is a small enclosed farm.
The first recorded form of the name was Dearthington and is thought to refer to someone called Deornoth. Thus Deornoth’s peoples’ homestead would seem to be the correct meaning.
Later Dearthington became Dearnington and subsequently Darnton or ‘Darnton the Dirt’ due to unpaved streets. In 1603 King James I visited Darlington and wrote Darnton has a bonny, bonny church, with a broach upon the steeple, but Darnton is a mucky, mucky town and mair shame on the people.
Darlington, the modern form of the name is more closely related to the earlier form Dearthington which continued in use for many centuries alongside the shortened form Darnton. Sadly there is no evidence that Darlington means a darling of a place!
St Cuthbert’s, the “bonny church” referred to in the rhyme is still one of the most admirable features of Darlington. Built in the twelfth century by Hugh Pudsey, Prince-Bishop of Durham, it is sometimes referred to as the `Lady of the North’. It is one of the largest churches in the region.