Visit the Houghton-le-Spring Heritage Centre
[ YOU ARE HERE: Houghton Heritage > Articles > Houghton Feast > Feast Revival 1967 ]


The Houghton Feast Revival in 1967

The following article was published online and in the Sunderland Echo in September 2007:

Once again the ancient festival of Houghton Feast is almost upon us, heralding in the dark nights, chilly winds and countdown to Hallowe’en, Bonfire Night and of course Christmas.

The Feast has its origins in the 1100s as Michaelmas, the festival of the dedication of the parish church of St Michael & All Angels, and has had many guises in its 900-year history, from horse racing to steam powered fairground, and from religious festival to community festival - but this year’s festival is a bit more special than most.

A Feast poster from 1967

After the restrictions during the War, the Feast had solely become a reason to visit one of Houghton’s dozens of pubs and the emphasis was certainly not on the Feast’s historic links with the magnificent St Michael & All Angels Church. However, in 1967 the then Rector, Rev Oswald Noel Gwilliam, teamed up with the Rotary Club, Round Table, local Chamber of Trade, Houghton Urban District Council and other community groups to start the revival of Houghton Feast.

Concerts were held in St Michael’s Church, something never done before, and a spectacular carnival of colourful floats was added to the line up. The Rotary Club even revived the traditional ox roasting, which has its origins with Bernard Gilpin in the 1500s.

The Feast was billed as ‘new style’ and the format that we know today was established. Events were publicised in a free programme of events, which featured local ads, articles and a welcome by the chairman of Houghton UDC (in 1967 it was Cllr John Mawston).

The 1967 programme

To commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Festival’s revival, a special edition booklet about the traditional ox roasting (based on the format of the original 1967 programme) was produced, along with an exhibition of a Feast photo collection and footage from the 1930s and 1950s in Houghton Library on October 13th 2007.

Commemorative 2007 programme

If you have memories or photos to share, or copies of past Houghton Feast programmes which you would like to donate, please get in touch by email.


Article and research by Paul Lanagan, local historian

If you have enjoyed this article and would like to make a donation towards the website's costs please click below:


Paul Lanagan wishes to place on record his thanks to the following:

With thanks to all who contributed to my first book 'Houghton Feast: The Ancient Festival of Houghton-le-Spring'.



[ YOU ARE HERE: Houghton Heritage > Articles > Houghton Feast > Feast Revival 1967 ]


Copyright © 2011 - All Rights Reserved | About this site

The Gilpin family crest

PAGE UPDATED: 28/07/2011