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MARKET TOWNS OF DURHAM (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Houghton-le-Spring in 1837

Houghton-le-Spring is in Easington ward, on the road from Durham towards Sunderland, 7 miles from Durham. The whole parish, which is divided into 18 townships or chapelries, contained, by the returns of 1831, 14,560 acres, and. 20,524 inhabitants; of which 1,220 acres and 3,917 inhabitants were in the township of Houghton-le-Spring ; 1,590 acres and 5,887 inhabitants in that of Hetton-le-Hole ; 1,310 acres and 2,539 inhabitants in the chapelry of Painshaw ; and 1,460 acres and 2,198 inhabitants in the township of Newbottle.

The village of Houghton is irregular and nearly half a mile long, at the head of a fine vale, sheltered on the north and east by limestone hills. It contains several handsome buildings. Houghton Hall is a heavy mansion, built probably in the reign of Elizabeth or James I, in the later Gothic style. The church is large, in the form of a cross, with a square tower, springing from four arches at the intersection of the transepts and nave. Some portions of the church are in the Early English, and some in the Decorated style : the east and west windows have fine Decorated tracery. The church contains the monument of Bernard Gilpin, some time rector of Houghton, ‘the Apostle of the North,’ and one of the most pious of the English church reformers : it is an altar tomb with pannelled sides, and a good specimen of the mixture of Gothic and Italian forms. The living is a rectory, in the gift of the bishop of Durham, of the yearly value of £2,157, with a glebe-house. On the north-east side of the churchyard, on a rising ground, is the grammar school founded by the exertions of Bernard Gilpin with the aid of some friends; and in the churchyard to the south of the school-house an almshouse for six poor people. Houghton had, in 1833, one boarding-school with 45 boys ; nine day-schools, one a charity school with 38 girls ; another a national school with 300 boys ; the seven other day-schools had nearly 200 children ; and three Sunday-schools with 656 children. The grammar school is not distinguished in the Parliamentary Returns from other schools.