The Church of St Mary, Houghton-
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There has been settlement in the area of Houghton-
Of the church that you can see today the earliest section to survive is the nave, which probably dates back to the decades immediately after the Norman Conquest, or possibly earlier, and it is quite possible that this early church was actually constructed on the orders of either the Reynold or Herlwin mentioned in Domesday. The double splayed windows, typical of the early Norman period, are rare survivals, and it is clear that much re-
In the mid 12th century a south aisle was added to the church, and the arches that were punched through the south wall of the nave can still be seen on the outer wall to this day. Local legend states that this was once housed the tomb of Sir Robert de Neville. Neville became lord of the manor at Houghton in 1270, before being ‘inhumanly put to death in Yorkshire a decade later ‘for his criminal conversation with a lady’; in modern terms he is thought to have had an affair with a married (possibly high born) woman -
The original round tower was demolished following a collapse in the 15th century, to be replaced by the imposing square tower still seen today. In addition, the early chancel, which appears to have been far larger than that which we see today, was demolished in the 18th century and replaced with a far more modest structure.
To learn more about the church’s fascinating history, and the lost village of Houghton-
Left: the foundations of the south aisle marked out in the turf of the churchyard -
Above: early Norman double splayed window in the south wall.
How St Mary’s may have evolved