THE APOSTLE OF THE NORTH
Bernard Gilpin was Rector of Houghton-le-Spring from 1558 until his death in March 1583 at the age of 66 years.
Houghton was known as a "fat parish" covering more than sixteen villages and Gilpin's salary reflected this: at £400 per annum, the equivalent of £68,000 in today's money, it was considered a large amount of money.
Nevertheless, Bernard Gilpin was a generous man; every Sunday, between Michaelmas (Houghton Feast) and Easter, he would open up the Rectory and feed the parish's poor with a roasted hog or ox.
In February 1583, Gilpin was struck down by an ox in Durham's Market Place and he died shortly afterwards. His body was interred in a large, rectangular altar tomb in St Michael's Church.