Location: Church Street, Houghton-Le-Spring, Sunderland, DH4 4DN, Tyne & Wear, United Kingdom
Houghton-Le-Spring, to the far southwest of the City of Sunderland, prides itself on being an “ancient village“. First formally being recorded in the early Middle Ages nearly 1000 years ago, St. Michael and All Angel’s Church sits as its community parish.
The church however, is speculated to be much older, with archaeological excavations discovering Anglo-saxon foundations and doorways within the buildings. Some theorize that before having become a Christian place of worship, it was a Roman Temple, and previously a Neolithic pagan site. Irrespectively, it stands as one of the oldest and “inaugural” church buildings in Sunderland, along with St. Peter’s Church and the Bishopwearmouth Minster.
The church is the final resting place of Bernard Gilpin, an influential Tudor era Clergyman and a significant figure in the early English reformation, having witnessed the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Jane, Mary and Elizabeth I. Becoming known as “The Apostle of the North“, Gilpin was killed in 1583 when an ox and cart run him over in Durham Market Square.
Sitting at the heart of the traditional village centre and green, St. Michael’s church offers a unique historical experience to visit, with the mining town having grew up around it centuries later. Explore the old rectory park and the lasting Medieval lanes all around.