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Houghton Hall, Hall Lane, Houghton-le-Spring, Co Durham

Houghton Hall, Hall Lane, c1815

MANSION HOUSE OF THE HUTTON FAMILY

Houghton Hall is located on Hall Lane, Houghton-le-Spring, and can be found by walking east up Church Street and across the pedestrian bridge over the A690.
Copyright © Books of the North 2000 - 2012.

The building, which dates from the 1600s, has had many uses over the years but is currently home to the Shipman family who have diligently renovated the much-neglected building.

 

1575 – It is rumoured that Houghton Hall was built in this year.

1589 – Robert Hutton, – nephew of Dr Matthew Hutton, Bishop of Durham, was Rector of Houghton-le-Spring. It is thought that he had Houghton Hall built.

“Robert Hutton...collated to Houghton-le-Spring, the 4th of December, 1589, where he purchased an estate, and built a house, now possessed by his descendants.”

[From the History & Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham, Hutchinson, 1823]

c1623 – Rector Robert Hutton died.

Copyright © Books of the North 2000 - 2012.

1670 – Captain Robert Hutton, one of Cromwell’s Roundheads, resided at the Hall, and carried out the first recorded occurrence of fox hunting in the country with his hounds. He was the grandson of Rector Robert Hutton but was an ardent Puritan!

Captain Robert Hutton's tomb in its original location before it was moved to the churchyard.  This site became the lower end of Holly Avenue, later Hutton's Rise

1680 – Captain Robert Hutton died 9th August and was buried in the orchard of Houghton Hall alongside his favourite horse and dog. The Latin inscription reads:

HIC IACET ROBERTVS
HVTTON ARMIGER QVI
OBIIT AVG. DIE NONO 1680
ET MORIENDO VIVAT

Which translates as:

Here lies Robert Hutton, Esquire, who died on the 9th day of August, 1680. And by dying lives.

c1834 – Ralph Anderson lived at the Hall at this time.

1839 – The Hutton family sold Houghton Hall on October 9th 1839.

Houghton Hall in 1900
Houghton Hall as a social club
Houghton Hall today
The Hall in c1900
As a Social Club
The Hall in 2007

1841 – Occupied by Ralph and Grace Anderson, John (farmer), William (farmer), Grace, Ralph (surgeon), Margaret, and Shadforth.

1851 – A Mr John Anderson (proprietor of houses) resided at the Hall (by 1855 he was classed as living in the Market Place) with his mother Grace, and siblings William (High Constable), Grace and Margaret.

1850 - 1861George Elliot Esq (later Sir George Elliot) was resident at the Hall, which at this time was called Hutton’s Hall but became known locally as Elliot’s Hall.

Copyright © Books of the North 2000 - 2012.

1861 – Houghton Hall, The Quay, was occupied by Margaret Elliot (civil engineer’s wife and nursing) and children Margaret W, Elizabeth, Alice A, George W, Henrietta, plus nieces Mary A P Elliot and Mary L Green. Elizabeth Younger was housekeeper.

1861 – On September 29th 1861, George Elliot’s 20 year old daughter, Elizabeth Elliot, died at Houghton Hall; her dress apparently caught fire as she dressed for a party. She was interred in the Elliot family vault at Houghton Hillside Cemetery on October 3rd 1861.

Sir George Elliot as drawn by Michael Grieve, from 'Houghton Hillside Cemetery: A Colourful Past' by Paul Lanagan
Sir George Elliot, Bart., MP, at Houghton Hall

1861 - 1865 – Elizabeth Younger was recorded as being housekeeper at Houghton Hall to the Elliot family, and had worked with the family since at least 1841, when they resided in Belmont Cottage, Rainton. Elizabeth died at Houghton Hall, aged 77 from disease of the liver on October 8th 1865. She was buried three days later at Houghton Hillside Cemetery. At this time, Mary Matthewson was cook, Elizabeth Atkin was house maid, Mary Watton was lady’s maid, and Thomasine Lawson was kitchen maid at Houghton Hall.

1871 – Margaret Elliott (housekeeper and domestic servant), Elizabeth Elliott (cook) and three servants. It would appear that the master of the house was away when the census enumerator came to call! [Surname should only have one 't'].

1881 – The census records the Hall as being occupied by Andrew Bell (gardener and domestic servant), his wife Jane (house keeper) and son John.

1890 – “Houghton Hall, the seat of Sir George Elliot bart, MP, DL, JP, is a rectangular mansion of three stories, situated north-east of the church, and was erected by Robert Hutton, rector here 1589-1623; it retains its mullioned windows, with a plain parapet, and is slightly altered from its original design; in the grounds attached to the house is an altar-tomb with inscription, erected over the grave of Robert Hutton esq. son of the above-mentioned, and a captain of horse in the Parliamentary army, who died 9th August, 1680, and was here buried at his own request, probably on account of his Puritan views, but traditionally in order to lie near the remains of his favourite charger.”
[Kelly’s Durham Directory, 1890]

1891 – Alice Parkin, daughter of the late Elizabeth Younger (former housekeeper in 1861 to the Elliot family), is recorded as housekeeper at the Hall. Alice’s granddaughter (incorrectly listed as daughter on the census), Jane Parkin, was a servant there. No other person was recorded at the Hall, other than Jane Davison, visitor.

1894 – "Houghton Hall, which was the mansion-house of the Hutton family, is a plain stone building, in the Elizabethan style of architecture, and is supposed to have been built by Robert Hutton, the then rector of Houghton, some time between the years 1589 and 1623, who acquired considerable property in the parish of Houghton. It is still the property of the descendants of the Huttons, and was formerly the residence of Sir George Elliot, Bart."
[Whellan's Directory of Durham, 1894]

1896 - In the 1960s, Ted Martin, retired manager of Houghton Colliery, recalled that when his family lived in Houghton Hall in 1896, the ghost of Captain Hutton haunted a bedchamber which was always kept locked.

1899 – Around this time Selwyn Austin resided at the Hall.

1901 – Houghton Hall is mentioned as uninhabited in the 1901 census.

Houghton Social Club in Houghton Hall, circa 1919.  The gentleman in the centre is the steward, Anthony Widdowfield

1917 – Houghton Hall was purchased by Houghton Social Club for £1030 0s 0d, including the extensive grounds and orchards (later occupied by the now demolished Holly Avenue, part of the Racecourse Estate). Apple and pear trees lined the grounds, and there was even a bandstand which was popular for summer concerts. The chairman of the Club at this time was John Burnside, and the Secretary was R. Henderson. Membership was at 609 members. The Club was officially registered as ‘Houghton-le-Spring Social Limited’ on January 16th 1904 and originally occupied premises on Newbottle Street. It was known locally as the ‘Big Club’.

1919 – Anthony Widdowfield was steward of Houghton Social Club at this time.

1938 – Houghton-le-Spring Workmen’s Social Club Limited, Church Street, William Jeff, Secretary.

1950 – On April 26th 1950, the Hall became a grade II Listed Building, and was described as follows:

List Entry Number: 456/7/46
Date Listed: 26.04.50
Address: Hall Lane , Houghton-le-Spring
Building Type: Manor House now Club
Building Name: Houghton Hall (Y.M.C.A.)
Conservation Area: No. 9
Occupied: Yes 3
Ownership: Trust 2
Grade: II*
Description: Manor House, now Club. Early C17.
Exterior: Limestone rubble with sandstone dressings. Nearly square plan. 3 storeys, 4 windows and 3 returns. Ground and first floor windows 4-light, second floor 3-light, mullioned, in chamfered surrounds under label moulds. Door in third bay in flattened Tudor arch and chamfered surround with lozenge stops; high triangular panel over surround contains almond-shaped window. Similar doors in returns have moulding defining the pediment. Stone quoins and renewed ashlar parapet.
Interior: Main room ground floor has arcaded panelling, cornice, pilastered chimney piece. Architraves throughout; well stair balusters enclosed in hardboard, broad ramped handrail and squared newel posts. Plaster: motifs of fleur-de-lis and rose on stair wall; rinceau frieze in principal 2nd floor room; highly decorated coved stair-well ceiling with sunburst centre panel.
Source: Mckenzie and Ross "View of the County Palatine of Durham"; Newcastle 1834; p.354.

The self-supporting cantilever staircase inside Houghton Hall
Houghton Hall's walls are 3 feet thick in places
The self-supporting cantilever staircase
Three feet thick walls (click to enlarge)

1960s - Ted Martin, retired manager of Houghton Colliery, recalled that when his family lived in Houghton Hall in 1896, the ghost of Captain Hutton haunted a bedchamber which was always kept locked.

1964 - Work started on a new Club Building within the extensive grounds of Houghton Hall, costing £40,000. The Club Building faced onto Hall Lane and opened in April 1965 and the Club seemingly abandoned the old Houghton Hall building.

1965 – The last year the Hall was a Social Club. During its time as a club, a dray horse once fell through the floor and landed in the tunnel which allegedly connected the Hall to St Michael’s Church.

1966 – Vaux Breweries deposited records with Durham Records Office, some of which related to Houghton Hall.

1966 - A Steward’s House was built alongside the Club Building at a cost of £5,000. Vaux Breweries deposited records with Durham Records Office, some of which related to Houghton Hall.

1967 - The YMCA acquired a tenancy of Houghton Hall, as the premises in Church Street were due for demolition to make way for the A690 dual-carriageway system.

1968 - Photos of Houghton Hall show the dilapidated condition of the abandoned building’s interior.

The rear of Houghton Hall, circa 1972, showing the construction of the John Edwards Sports Hall (named after the local chairman responsible for the restoration). During the construction a Tudor arch was uncovered
The rear of Houghton Hall, c1972.

1971 - The YMCA’s lease of Houghton Hall expired. The YMCA bought Houghton Hall for £2,500 and carried out restoration work. Walls were stripped of ivy and an old boiler house, which had damaged the roof parapet, was demolished. The betting office on the front wall was demolished, restoring the entrance to some of its former glory (the original stone pediment was no longer there). Some of the original features discovered during the restoration included: Elizabethan panelling in the Boardroom and the fireplace; fireplace recesses, meat spits, hooks for hanging bacon, and ancient bell pulls remained in the kitchen; and on the third floor, black beams supporting the roof (this is where the servants slept). A new sports area, known as the John Edwards Sports Hall (named after the local chairman responsible for the restoration) was erected on land to the rear of the Hall, the construction of which uncovered a Tudor arch.

1971 - Membership of the YMCA at this time was 300.

Civic guests opening Houghton Hall YMCA
Civic guests opening Houghton Hall YMCA.

1972 – The official opening of the YMCA took place on June 10th 1972. Souvenir programmes were issued to all in attendance. It made mention of the following: “A transformation has been effected which faithfully preserves the character of the Hall. We feel we have made a worthy contribution to the unique complement of historical buildings in the immediate neighbourhood and have added to the undoubted charm of the area.”

A plaque was unveiled and read as follows:

This Ancient Hall was acquired by the Trustees in 1971 and following extensive restoration was opened on 10th June 1972 by Sir Sadler Forster as Headquarters of the Houghton-le-Spring YMCA and dedicated by the Reverend P.G.C. Brett, Rector of Houghton. John Edwards, Chairman
Rowland Storey, General Secretary

1996> – Robin Midson became chairman of the YMCA. He worked alongside the board to reduce the YMCA’s debts, following the successful prosecution of the former Secretary.

The YMCA at Houghton Hall in the late 1980s or early 1990s
The YMCA at Houghton Hall in the late 1980s or early 1990s.

1999 – The Hall ceased to be a YMCA in the mid to late 1990s, and was vacated and boarded up by 1999. Houghton Hall was entered into English Heritage’s new Buildings At Risk Register and became Sunderland’s only entry. The building went up for sale with an asking price of £110,000 and was thought to contain one of only three self-supporting cantilever staircases left in the UK.

2000 – May – A young lady was murdered behind Houghton Social Club Building, alongside Houghton Hall. The Club Building was demolished shortly afterwards.

2000 – June – A planning application was submitted to convert Houghton Hall into six homes along with an extension containing another six homes.

2001 – The Shipman family moved into the derelict Hall on December 5th and started the process of converting the derelict building into a family home and business.

c2003 – Mews Court was built on the site of the Club building.

2007 – On November 28th, historical curiosities and collectibles relating to Houghton Hall went under the hammer at Anderson & Garland auctioneers in Newcastle.

Paul Lanagan inside Houghton Hall with the Shipman family
Decorative features inside Houghton Hall
Paul Lanagan (right) and the Shipmans
Decorative features inside the Hall

Copyright © Books of the North 2000 - 2012.

HOUGHTON YMCA GENERAL SECRETARIES

c1952 - Mr Brogan (YMCA on Church Street)
???? - Jim Grey
???? - Jack Hartis
c1969 - Rowland Storey, previously Chairman (YMCA in Houghton Hall)
c1979 - ????

Houghton Hall, Hall Lane, Houghton Le Spring, Tyne & Wear, DH5 8DB
Houghton Hall, The Hall, Church Street, Houghton le Spring

Article and research by Paul Lanagan, local historian

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

:: Thanks go to Liz Shipman for being so welcoming and granting access to her magnificent home; to Jeff Bartram for information on the secret tunnels; to Cathy Younger for information on her housekeeping ancestors at Houghton Hall; and to Robin Midson for granting access to the Hall to me and my school pals for a school ghost project in the 1990s. Thanks are also extended to: Rowland Storey, former general secretary of the YMCA; David Sill; Lena Inch, relative of Houghton Club steward Anthony Widdowfield; and Rev Peter Brett.
:: Durham County Advertiser, October 25th 1974;
:: A Short History of Houghton Social Club by J.M. Laverick, October 1983.
:: 'Houghton Had Intruders As Its Rectors in Civil War' by Mr C.A. Smith MA, November 1960.

 

 

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Houghton House is located next to Houghton Hall but on Nesham Place
Houghton Hall, The Quay, Church Street, Houghton Le Spring

Prosport Motorsport UK, Houghton Hall, Hall Lane, Houghton Le Spring, Tyne & Wear, DH5 8DB
Houghton Hall, The Hall, Church Street, Houghton le Spring

REDBROOKE MORTGAGE MANAGEMENT LTD, Houghton Hall, Hall Lane, Houghton Le Spring, Tyne & Wear, DH5 8DB


Houghton House is located next to Houghton Hall but on Nesham Place
Houghton Hall, The Quay, Church Street, Houghton Le Spring
Houghton House is located next to Houghton Hall but on Nesham Place
Houghton Hall, The Quay, Church Street, Houghton Le Spring