HOUGHTON HILLSIDE CEMETERY

Affectionately known to locals as the 'Old Cem', Houghton's Hillside Cemetery was originally known as the 'New Cemetery' when it opened in 1854 following a cholera outbreak the year before.

St Michael & All Angels' churchyard in the centre of Houghton had become full and a new burial ground was needed. The Rector, Rev John Grey, proposed that the new church cemetery be situated on glebe land next to Houghton Cut at the top of Sunderland Street. A public outcry followed as the proposed site had once been a quarry!

Houghton Hillside Cemetery was consecrated on September 4th 1854 by the Bishop of Exeter and over 7,000 burials took place there. Burials dwindled over the years with the last on record being in 1971.

The Cemetery was officially closed for new interments in 2005 by Order of the Privy Council.

Houghton Hillside Cemetery: 1853 Cemetery Quetion - article about how the Cemetery was established

THE CEMETERY QUESTION 1853

An introduction and overview of Hillside Cemetery's controversial history plus a first look at some of the noteworthy interments including a noble man, a general, an MP, and the Cemetery Objector himself!
[CEMETERY ORIGINS 1853]

Free downloadable copy of the Houghton Hillside Cemetery illustrated Guide Book & Map

CEMETERY GUIDE BOOK & MAP

Click to download your free copy of the Houghton Hillside Cemetery Guide Book & Map, currently in its 6th edition. This free downloadable is fully illustrated with colour images and looks great on glossy paper.
[GUIDE BOOK & MAP]

Time Line of noteworthy events for Houghton Hillside Cemetery

CEMETERY TIME LINE

This time line of events looks at the significant events in the history of the Old Cemetery on Sunderland Street, Houghton-le-Spring, including dates of its extension, interesting burials and acts of desecration.
[TIME LINE]

Burial Records, Burial Registers and Grave Registers for Houghton Hillside Cemetery

BURIAL RECORDS 1854 - 1971

Names of those people listed in Hillside Cemetery's numerous burial registers and grave registers. The lists can be searched for your ancestors and, in exchange for a small donation, details of the grave be sent to you.
[BURIAL RECORDS 1854 - 1971]

Transcriptions of memorial inscriptions at Houghton Hillside Cemetery

MEMORIAL TRANSCRIPTIONS

Many of the remaining headstones and memorials at Hillside Cemetery have been logged and a transcription of the memorial inscriptions made. The link below leads to a list of the names found on those memorials.
[MEMORIAL TRANSCRIPTIONS]

Burial plans showing grave spaces at Houghton Hillside Cemetery

BURIAL PLANS

A digital-tracing has been made of high-res photographs of Hillside Cemetery's burial plans. This printable document is a handy guide to help you plot graves of interest when you visit the Cemetery.
[BURIAL PLANS]

Rev & Hon John Grey, MD, DD, Rector of Houghton-le-Spring, 1847 - 1895

REV & HON JOHN GREY MD, DD

The Rev & Hon John Grey MD, DD was Rector of Houghton-le-Spring between 1847 and 1895. He made the proposal that the 'church cemetery' be situated on the old quarry - land the Church owned!
[REV & HON JOHN GREY]

Thomas William Usherwood Robinson, brewer, Houghton-le-Spring, an affluent resident who was Churchwarden at St Michael & All Angels during the Cemetery controversy

THOMAS W. U. ROBINSON

Thomas William Usherwood Robinson, son of the local brewer, was an affluent resident who happened to be Churchwarden during the Cemetery controversy - he also (bravely) opposed the Rector's plans!
[THOMAS WILLIAM USHERWOOD ROBINSON]

Sir George Elliot, Bart., M.P, died in December 1893 and was buried at Houghton Hillside Cemetery in the largest rock vault

SIR GEORGE ELLIOT

Sir George Elliot, Bart, MP, lived at Houghton Hall. He was an advisor to the Egyptian Khedive. He is buried in the large rock vault at Hillside Cemetery with his daughter Elizabeth, son and grandson (both George).
[SIR GEORGE ELLIOT] | [HOUGHTON HALL]

Formerly known as William Standish Carr, a noble man of Duxbury Park and Cocken Hall, William Standish Standish was interred at Hillside Cemetery in 1856

WILLIAM STANDISH STANDISH

William Standish Standish, formerly known as William Standish Carr, was a noble man of Duxbury Park and Cocken Hall, Durham. His Hillside Cemetery vault has desecrated dozens of times over the years.
[WILLIAM STANDISH STANDISH]

George Wheatley, Crimean War Veteran and founder of Houghton's confectonery factory, buried at Houghton Hillside Cemetery

GEORGE WHEATLEY

George Wheatley, Crimean War veteran and local confectioner, died in 1906 and was buried at the Cemetery. An impressive memorial marks his grave. Other Wheatleys in the Cemetery are not related.
[GEORGE WHEATLEY] | [OTHER WHEATLEYS]

General William Beckwith and his wife Priscilla Maria Beckwith are buried at Hillside Cemetery

THE BECKWITHS

Priscilla Maria Beckwith and her husband, General William Beckwith, are commemorated on the rock face with a large raised memorial. The General's brother, John Beckwith of Calcutta, is interred with them.
[THE BECKWITHS]

Joseph Bland Pearson, gruesomely decapitated by a train and buried at Houghton Hillside Cemetery

JOSEPH BLAND PEARSON

The memorial of Joseph Bland Pearson was one of the first you would come across upon entering the Cemetery. His unusual middle-named helped us discover his story - he was decapitated!
[JOSEPH BLAND PEARSON]

William Shanks, a thirty-five year old amateur mathematician from Corsenside, came to settle in Houghton-le-Spring in 1847 with his new wife Jane Elizabeth, at about the same time that Houghton got its new Rector, the Hon & Rev John Grey

WILLIAM SHANKS

William Shanks, a thirty-five year old amateur mathematician from Corsenside, came to settle in Houghton-le-Spring in 1847. William is famous for calculating the value of Pi to 707 places.
[WILLIAM SHANKS]

Four WWI War Casualties, formerly commemorated with CWGC headstones, are buried at Houghton Hillside Cemetery, Sunderland Street, Houghton-le-Spring

WAR GRAVES

Four casualties of the Great War are buried at Hillside Cemetery. They were commemorated with CWGC headstones until 1962 when alternative commemorations were erected at Houghton Cemetery.
[FORGOTTEN WAR GRAVES] | [HOUGHTON AT WAR]

10% of burials at Houghton Hillside Cemetery came from inmates of Houghton's Workhouse and Poor Law Union

WORKHOUSE BURIALS

Around 10% of burials at Houghton Hillside Cemetery were inmates from Houghton's Workhouse and Poor Law Union. This article looks at the history of the building which was located on nearby William Street.
[WORKHOUSE BURIALS]

Unusual and other noteworthy burials at Houghton Hillside Cemetery, Sunderland Street, Houghton-le-Spring

UNUSUAL BURIALS

This article looks at other noteworthy and unusual burials at Houghton Hillside Cemetery, including local business founders, murder victims, a lesser-prophet and those who met their fate in grisly ways!
[UNUSUAL BURIALS]

Printable fact sheets for Houghton Hillside Cemetery, Sunderland Street, Houghton-le-Spring, Co Durham

FACT SHEETS

Seven printable fact sheets about Hillside Cemetery, covering: flora and fauna, William Standish Standish, Sir George Elliot, The Beckwiths, George Wheatley, lych gate and lodge and the burial grounds' layout.
[FACT SHEETS]

The archway entrance (lych gate) to Hillside Cemetery was restored in 2006 at a cost of £30,000

LYCH GATE RESTORATION

The lych gate archway and wall at the entrance to Hillside Cemetery was restored in 2006 at a cost of £30,000. An illustrated blog was written at the time detailing the ups and downs of the project.
[LYCH GATE RESTORATION]

Replacement of the demolished large memorial at Houghton Hillside Cemetery, Sunderland Street, Houghton-le-Spring

MEMORIAL REPLACEMENT

When the Cemetery's headstones were flattened in 1974, the large memorial in the north-eastern corner was pulled down and left to become an impromptu seat. In 2009 a replacement was erected on the exact spot.
[MEMORIAL REPLACEMENT]

Then and now views of Houghton Hillside Cemetery, Sunderland Street, Houghton-le-Spring, Co Durham

CEMETERY: THEN & NOW

Comparitive views showing how the Hillside Cemetery used to look and how it looks now. The most contrasting views are those showing how the headstones vanished (later discovered to have been bulldozed in the 1970s).
[THEN & NOW]

Article about Houghton Hillside Cemetery, The Cemetery Lodge, 145 Sunderland Street, Houghton-le-Spring, Co Durham, DH5 8BG

THE LODGE

A look at the people who have lived in the Sexton's Lodge (aka Cemetery Keeper's Lodge) at the entrance to Hillside Cemetery. This was the last house on the right when travelling up the steep Sunderland Street.
[THE LODGE]

Brick built air raid shelter at Hillside Cemetery - the last remaining air raid shelter in Houghton-le-Spring!

AIR RAID SHELTER

During the air raid shelter building programme of the 1940s, a brick built shelter was erected in the Cemetery for the residents of the Lodge and those visiting graves, if caught outside during an air raid during the War.
[AIR RAID SHELTER] | [MEASUREMENTS]

Details of the three time capsules hidden in the Hillside Cemetery lych gate

TIME CAPSULES

A Victorian time capsule was found inside the stonework of the lych gate during its restoration in 2006. This led to two modern time capsules being sealed inside before the work was completed. Full details of contents below.
[TIME CAPSULES]

Old documents and receipts for Hillside Cemetery

CEMETERY DOCUMENTS

Houghton Heritage Society has many old documents relating to the Hillside Cemetey, including: bills and posters, funeral cards, headstone receipts, and receipts for graves and funeral services at the Cemetery.
[CEMETERY DOCUMENTS]

A Passion Play held at the Old Cemetery, Houghton-le-Spring, on Good Friday 2012

PASSION OF THE CHRIST PLAY

During Easter 2012, on Good Friday, April 6th 2012, a Passion Play was staged outdoors at Houghton Hillside Cemetery. The audience was encouraged to get involved and jostle for a view of 'Jesus'.
[PASSION OF THE CHRIST]

Is Houghton Hillside Cemetery haunted? Or is the tale of the 'headless horseman' just a rumour? Just a coincidence that he rode over a cliff into a cemetery where he would be buried? Find out in this article.

HAUNTED CEMETERY?

Is Houghton Hillside Cemetery haunted? Or is the tale of the 'headless horseman' just a rumour? Just a coincidence that he rode over a cliff into a cemetery where he would be buried? Find out in this article.
[GHOSTS OF HILLSIDE CEMETERY]

Join Fyass Byuk - Houghton Heritage Society's popular Facebook group

FACEBOOK GROUP

You can join Houghton Heritage Society by becoming a member on Facebook - or Fyass Byuk as we call it. We have over 2,500 members and the group is very popular with residents, descendants and ex-pats.
[FACEBOOK]

Videos and cine footage of Houghton-le-Spring

VIDEOS OF HOUGHTON

Houghton Heritage Society's YouTube Channel features exclusive videos of Houghton-le-Spring as well as footage from our heritage events throughout the year - and of course Houghton Hillside Cemetery!
[YOUTUBE VIDEOS]

Old photographs of Houghton Hillside Cemetery, Houghton-le-Spring shared via Flickr

OLD PHOTOGRAPHS

Houghton Heritage Society has over 5,000 images in its collections. Many can be found on our Flickr page while our Facebook group has thousands of exclusive photographs as uploaded by our many members.
[FLICKR] | [ARCHIVE CATALOGUE]