Take a look behind the doors of a historic Wearside building

A colourful view of the Old Rectory at Houghton.
A colourful view of the Old Rectory at Houghton.

A building with huge importance in a community’s history is opening for public viewing tomorrow.

It’s your chance to take a look at the Old Rectory in Houghton-le-Spring. It is hosting a community open day especially for Houghton Feast 50.

Inside the council chamber of the Old Rectory at Houghton.

Inside the council chamber of the Old Rectory at Houghton.

The building, which dates from the 17th century, was home to several of Houghton’s famous Rectors and became home to the Houghton Urban District Council in 1949.

Brenda Graham, from the Houghton & District Local History Group, urged people to “call in and take part in a wide range of activities and have a look around the ancient building including the former Houghton Urban District Council Chamber.”

This year marks an important anniversary in Houghton’s history. The old Rectory, which is in the Rectory Park, was the place where Bernard Gilpin lived and this year marks the 500th anniversary of Bernard’s birth.

He was rector of Houghton-le-Spring when it was one of the largest parishes in England, spanning 24 square miles and covering 16 villages.

Call in and take part in a wide range of activities and have a look around the ancient building including the former Houghton Urban District Council Chamber

Brenda Graham

It was an important job, but Gilpin never lost his connection with the people. Each Sunday between Michaelmas and Easter, he gave free dinners to every visitor, no matter what their status was.

He got plenty of offers to take promotion, but he decided to remain a parish priest. Five hundred years on he is still revered.

The open day will run from 12pm to 4pm and while entry is free, donations would be welcome.

The event has been organised by Acumen Community Buildings at the Old Rectory and for further details, contact (0191) 3869785.

The Old Rectory.

The Old Rectory.

Bernard Gilpin founded Kepier Grammar School at Houghton le Spring in the late 1500s and helped to raise standards of education.

He is also well known for the part he played in Houghton Feast.

Brenda Graham.

Brenda Graham.