The place name of Barnes was first recorded in 1351 when it is mentioned in unpublished special charters of the Dean and Chapter of Durham Cathedral. A further mention is made in 1458 when it is referred to as Le Barnes, once again in Charters held by the Dean and Chapter. Its derivation appears simply to come from the old English word 'Bern' and to identify the site as the location of the barns belonging to the Manor of Humbledon.
In 1370 the Manor of Hamlydon was held by the de Dalton family for a quarter of a knights fee. However, shortly after this Jordan de Dalton died without any children and his estates passed to his cousin Maud who married Sir William Bowes of Streatlam (near Barnard Castle). In turn she died in 1421 and passed on her estates, including Barnes, to her son Sir William Bowes. The Barnes estates appear to have followed the male descent of the Bowes family until 1673.
By the 17th Century Barnes had been divided into High Barnes and Low Barnes, the latter of which appears to be the site of the original medieval house. In 1668 William Haddock sold Low Barnes to John Jenkins of London while High Barnes passed from the Bowes family to William Ettrick in 1673. Ettrick was originally from Dorset but had arrived in Sunderland in 1661 to take up the post of Collector of the Port.
After his purchase of High Barnes the house and estate passed down through his family and was in ownership of the Rev William Ettrick at the time of the tithe survey in 1845.
After 1845 the High Barnes Estate was allegedly demolished and rebuilt as a new 'Home for the Aged' which still stands on the site today with a date stone indicating August 6th 1900 as the start of its construction. The building appears to have been run by the Little Sisters of the Poor from its opening to the Present Day.
Meanwhile Low Barnes house and estate was sold by the Jenkins family to the Wardells of Sunderland in 1708 and passed by descent to John Chapman of Whitby, who in 1783 sold it to Richard Pemberton Esq.
The Pembertons were a notable local family with extensive land owning and Industrial interests. When Richard Pemberton bought the Barnes estate he made it the principal family seat which it remained until the later 19th Century when the encroaching urban sprawl of Sunderland led them to relocate to Hawthorn Tower on the Durham coast to the South.
Following the departure of the Pemberton family in the late 19th Century the property appears to have been let to a Laundry company. It is unclear as to how the land passed to Mr Punshon who in turn sold the land in 1904 to the Borough of Sunderland for £8,500.
During the 1906/1907 recession Barnes Park was created as a work creation initiative and provided jobs for 2000 people. The intention of the purchase of the land from Mr Punshon was to create a Park to serve as a 'green lung' for the west end of the town. The park was created without a formal design and without the involvement of the renowned landscape gardeners of the day.
The Low Barnes house itself survived until 1921 when it was demolished to make way for Bowling Greens.
Along with the Bowling Greens, other principle features were added to the park; a lake with islands, timber bridges and an open bandstand were constructed in the valley floor. The valley bottom and bank sides were laid out as a pleasant walk with rolling lawns and trees in shrub planting. The steeply sloping grass banks around the bandstand formed a south facing 'Amphitheatre'.
Later a Civil War cannon dredged from the River Wear was erected at a footpath junction, reputedly brought to Sunderland by a Scottish Army Officer during the Civil War period. Through public consultation, it has been found that the cannon is a key feature in the memories of Barnes Park with many residents reminiscing about posing on top of the cannon.
Did You Know that the names of the Four houses within Barnes Junior School are named after the four families that owned the land - The Daltons, The Bowes, The Pembertons and The Ettricks?
Did You Know that Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of the Bowes family?