Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for HOUGHTON-LE-SPRING

HOUGHTON-LE-SPRING, a town, a township, a parish, a sub-district, and a district, in Durham. The town stands near a system of local railways, connected with the Hartlepool and Sunderland and the Durham and Sunderland lines, 1¾ mile E of Fence-Houses station of the Northeastern railway, and 6½ NE of Durham. It got the latter part of its name either from its abundant springs, or more probably from the family of Le Spring. who, in the 13th century, held the manor. It possesses celebrity from the scene of the labours of Bernard Gilpin, commonly called the Apostle of the North, who was long the parish rector, and died in 1583; and it has been much visited on his account. It is approached from the r. station, by Rainton Hill, now covered with colliery works, and where Lord Burleigh made a notable exclamation respecting Gilpin. It stands at the head of a beautiful vale, opening to the W, and sheltered from northerly and easterly winds by Houghton and Wardenlaw hills. It has undergone great improvement since 1810; and it now contains many large and handsome houses; yet it presents, in a general view, the appearance of a large blackened village. Its parish church is an interesting cruciform edifice, of the period of transition from early English to decorated; stands in the centre of a square area in the lower part of the town; is approached through an avenue of fine sycamores; was recently restored; measures 93 feet by 46 in the nave, 48 by 20 in the chancel, and 87 in the transept; has a central tower, the upper storey of which is modern, and superseded a low leaden spire; had formerly, attached to it, a chantry and two guilds; and contains a cinque-cento altar tomb of Bernard Gilpin, a brass of R. Belasis of 1587, and the effigies of a knight, said by some to be that of Sir R. Belasis of the time of Henry III., but always referred by tradition to Sir John le Spring, who was murdered in his own manor house here in the time of Edward III. The ballad of Surtees says respecting that knight, - "Pray for the sowle of Sir John le Spring ! When the black monks sing, and the vesper bells ring, Pray for the sprite of a murder'd knight; Pray for the sowle of Sir John le Spring. He fell mot when before the Cross The waning Crescent fled, When the martyr's palm and the golden crown Reward Christ's soldier dead, " The rectory was built in 1664-7, stands embosomed in sycamores, and is an embattled edifice, of venerable appearance. A tower connected with it, built in 1483, and forming part of the rectory inhabited by Gilpin, was recently destroyed. But a thorn tree, said to have been planted by Gilpin, and commonly called Gilpin's Thorn, is still in the garden, and measures 11¼ feet at 2 feet from the ground. The rectory has been inhabited by Archbishop Sancroft, George Davenport, Peter Heylin, and the oriental traveller, Sir George Wheler. The Roman Catholic church was built in 1837; and is a neat edifice, in the pointed style. There are places of worship also for United Presbyterians, Baptists, Wesleyans, and United Methodists. The mechanics' institution was built in 1851; has a tower over the entrance; and contains a library and reading room. The Kepier grammar school stands near the parish church; was founded by Bernard Gilpin, and by Heath of Kepier; and has an endowed income of £181. Wheler's school has £80; the Kepier alms houses have £81; and other charities have £180. There are also a national school and a workhouse; and the latter, at the census of 1861, had 43 inmates. The town has a post office‡ under Fence Houses, and is a seat of petty sessions. A weekly market is held on Friday; and an annual fair or festival used to commence on the Sunday after New Michaelmas day, and to continue three or four days. There are breweries, an iron foundry, and two brick kilns; but the chief trade arises from numerous and extensive coal mines in the vicinity, yielding coal of superior quality, and sending it off, by railways, to the ports. There are also, in the neighbourhood, extensive quarries of limestone and freestone, and several chalybeate springs. An ancient church or religions house stood on the S side of the town, in a field called Kirk-Lee; but has completely disappeared. Ancient coins, carved stones, and other vestiges of antiquity have been found. Houghton Hall, at the head of the town, is a massive, oblong, mullioned structure of 1589 -1623; was built by the Cromwellian trooper, R. Hutton, out of his share of the plunder of Dundee; and is now the seat of G. Elliott, Esq. Pop. of the town, in 1851, 3, 224; in 1861, 3, 824. Houses, 710. The township comprises 1, 475 acres. Real property, £7, 698; of which £518 are in railways. Pop., 4, 741. Houses, 892.—The parish contains also the townships of Wardenlaw, Morton Grange, Newbottle, Penshaw, Offerton, West Herrington, East and Middle Herrington, Great Eppleton, Little Eppleton, Hetton-le-Hole, East Rainton, West Rainton, Moorsley, Moorhouse, Cocken, Bourn-Moor, and South Biddick. Acres, 15, 494. Real property, £71, 265; of which £28, 600 are in mines, £1, 487 in quarries, and £3, 750 in railways. Pop. in 1851, 20, 284; in 1861, 22, 582. Houses, 4, 524. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Durham. Value, £1, 600. Patron, the Bishop of Durham. The rectories of Hetton-le-Hole, Penshaw, and Rainton, were erected out of the parish under an act of 16 George III., and were endowed out of the revenues of the mother rectory, which previously was one of the richest livings in England. The vicarage of Newbottle, with the chapelry of Herrington, also is a separate benefice.—The sub-district contains the H. le-S. townships of H. le-S., Wardenlaw, Morton-Grange, Newbottle, Penshaw, Offerton, and the Herringtons, and the BishopWearmouth township of Silksworth. Acres, 9, 720. Pop., 11, 238. Houses, 2, 172.—The district comprehends also the sub-district of Hetton-le-Hole, containing the townships of H. le-H., E. and W. Rainton, Moorsley, Moorhouse, and the two Eppletons. Acres of the district, 16, 202. Poor rates in 1863, £5, 817. Pop. in 1851, 19, 564; in 1861, 21, 773. Houses, 4, 355. Marriages in 1862, 121; births, 945, -of which 43 were illegitimate; deaths, 549, -of which 296 were at ages under 5 years, and 4 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 1, 421; births, 7, 675; deaths, 4, 376. The places of worship, in 1851, were 6 of the Church of England, with 2, 850 sittings; 1 of United Presbyterians, with 220 s.; 1 of Independents, with 170 s.; 1 of Baptists, with 200 s.; 14 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 3, 242 s.; 7 of Primitive Methodists, with 1, 205 s.; 5 of the Wesleyan Association, with 1, 343 s.; 1 of New Connexion Methodists, with 52 attendants; and 1 of Roman Catholics, with 270 sittings. The schools were 12 public day schools, with 1, 286 scholars; 28 private day schools, with 1, 080 s.; 32 Sunday schools, with 2, 990 s.; and 5 evening schools for adults, with 79 s. HOUGHTON (LITTLE), a hamlet in Worsley parish, Lancashire; 6½ miles WNW of Manchester.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, a township, a parish, a sub-district, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Houghton le Spring AP/CP       Houghton le Spring SubD       Houghton le Spring PLU/RegD       County Durham AncC
Place: Houghton le Spring

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