Seaham, formerly Seaham Harbour, is a small town in County Durham, situated 6 miles (9.7 km) south of Sunderland and 13 miles (21 km) east of Durham. It has a small parish church, St Mary the Virgin, with a late 7th century Anglo Saxon nave resembling the church at Escomb in many respects. St Mary the Virgin is one of the 20 oldest surviving churches in the UK. Seaham is currently twinned with the German town of Gerlingen.
The original village of Seaham has all but vanished; it lay between St Mary’s Church and Seaham Hall (i.e. somewhat to the north of the current town centre). Until the early years of the 19th century, Seaham was a small rural agricultural farming community whose only claim to fame was that the local landowner’s daughter, Anne Isabella Milbanke, was married at Seaham Hall to Lord Byron, on 2 January 1815. Byron began writing his Hebrew Melodies at Seaham and they were published in April 1815. It would seem that Byron was bored in wintry Seaham, though the sea enthralled him. As he wrote in a letter to a friend:
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