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Houghton Le Spring

Houghton le Spring sits at the foot of the magnesium limestone escarpment north-east of Durham. Although the old town is now cut in two by a dual carriageway, it has managed to retain a cluster of historic buildings, among them its parish church, old rectory and 17th-century hall.

Houghton’s most famous son was Bernard Gilpin, the ’Apostle of the North’, so-called for his evangelising expeditions in the borderlands of Northumberland. Gilpin was rector here for twenty-five years from 1558, a time when Houghton le Spring was then one of the largest parishes in England. Despite the status this gave him, Gilpin was a generous champion of the poor, a brave and principled man unafraid of the religious establishment even in those dangerous days.

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