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Memories from Anthony Widdowfield Jamieson
Remembering Rev Oswald Noel Gwilliam
Houghton's Rector 1948 - 1972

Tony Jamieson passed away in January 2010.

I am now eighty-years old and still return to Houghton at least once a year to visit a cousin of mine. I am an Altar Server and very active in the church having completed my term of office as a member of the Diocesan Synod of Chelmsford & East London, and I am still a member of my Church’s PCC. Copyright © Books of the North 2009.

I was, however, baptised, confirmed and married in St Michael’s Church in the Broadway, Houghton-le-Spring, and in my time can remember as a young boy Canon Watson as Rector and in later life Rev’d Hugh Ashdown as Rector, followed by Canon Noel Gwilliam.

I spent many happy years at St Michael’s Church before moving to Essex in 1963.

Canon Oswald Noel Gwilliam, Rector of Houghton-le-Spring

As a boy and a young man, I was in the Choir and for a period of time rang the Treble bell in the belfry, but my greatest love was being an Altar Server, and spent many happy years with Canon Noel Gwilliam and his various Curates serving at the High Altar at the celebration of the Holy Communion. Copyright © Books of the North 2009.

Canon Gwilliam had two daughters, Rosemary and Allison. Rosemary married the Rev’d Frank Streatfield and for fifteen or so years served with him in the missionary field in India. Rosemary had a degree in farming. I fail to remember what her younger sister qualified in, only that she married an engineer and used to live somewhere in the Dartmoor forest.

Canon Oswald Noel Gwilliam, Rector, in the centre at the 1957 Houghton Feast Community Hymn Singing

Mrs Gwilliam was the leader of the Mother’s Union and a lady in the full sense of the word; everyone loved and respected her greatly, and she was a power of strength behind her husband.

Canon Gwilliam sat on the selection board for prospective candidates for Ordination into the Church of England in the Diocese of Durham. Although he always had a car and caravan he was often seen on his old ‘sit up and beg’ bicycle, visiting the members of the church, never in his car. Copyright © Books of the North 2009.

Canon Oswald Noel Gwilliam, Rector, on the left, with Cllr John Mawston and Tom Urwin MP, at Houghton Feast 1967

Every Christmas morning, after the service of Holy Communion, we the Alter Servers and Curates were invited to the Rectory for a glass of sherry and a piece of Christmas cake.

So many happy memories of Rector Noel and his family. I would go as far as to say, in my time, as a member of St Michael’s Church and a member of the PCC, he was the most loved and respected Rector I had the privilege to work with.

Tony Jamieson, 2009


Collected & Edited by
Article and research by Paul Lanagan, local historian

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