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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

St Laurence's Church at Hallgarth
St Laurence's Church at Hallgarth

Pittington is a village and civil parish in County Durham, in England. It is situated a few miles north-east of Durham. The population as taken at the 2011 census was 2,534.[1]

Pittington is made up of the neighbouring settlements of Low Pittington and High Pittington, which were developed for coal mining by Lambton Collieries from the 1820s.[2] High Pittington, the larger of the two, now includes the old hamlet of Hallgarth. Hallgarth is a conservation area, designated in 1981. It is a small conservation area focussed on the Church of St Laurence, a Grade I listed building, and Hallgarth Manor Hotel (Grade II).[3] The civil parish of Pittington includes both villages and the neighbouring village of Littletown.

Pittington Hill is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Parish church

St Laurence's is a mediaeval parish church in the Diocese of Durham.[4] It is dedicated to Saint Lawrence. The present building dates from around 1100, and is known for its 12th century north arcade and wall-paintings. In a Victorian restoration by Ignatius Bonomi in 1846-7, the chancel was extended, and the aisle walls, porch and chancel were rebuilt. The church is a Grade I listed building.[5]

The parish of Pittington is now part of a united benefice with St Mary Magdalene, Belmont, County Durham.

In the churchyard is a war memorial, unveiled in 1920. It is a calvary cross by Bowman and Sons, and designed by W. H. Wood. The memorial is Grade II listed.[6]


Pittington Primary School is a school of approximately 180 pupils ranging from 3 to 11 years of age. The school logo is one hedgehog.

The Hallgarth murder

The water mill, about half a mile to the south west of Hallgarth, was the scene of the 1830 murder of Mary Ann Westrop, a 17-year old servant girl.

At 6 o'clock in the evening of 14 August 1830,[7] while the mill owners were at church, Thomas Clarke, a 19-year old servant, in a distressed state, alarmed residents of Sherburn with the information that six Irishmen had broken into the mill house at Hallgarth. He claimed that they had ransacked the house for money and then assaulted him with a poker before brutally murdering Westrop. Returning to the mill with the people he had informed, the girl's body was found in the kitchen with several brutal wounds including a cut to her throat from ear to ear. It was found that money had been stolen from the household and that a whitewashed tool had been used to break into the drawers containing the money. It was then discovered that Clarke's room had recently been whitewashed, and in that room was found a blunt piece of metal which fitted the tool used in the robbery. It was realised that Clarke bore no signs of an attack upon him.

Huge crowds turned out for Clarke's trial at Durham on 14 February 1831, and despite Clarke's calm plea of innocence, he was found guilty. On 28 February he was hanged. His last words were; "Gentlemen I am innocent, I am going to suffer for another man's crime".[8]

A wall memorial to Westrop was erected in St Laurence's Church.[9]

The Hallgarth murder became the subject of a local broadside ballad; "Eighteen hundred three times ten, August the eighth that day, Let not that Sunday and that year, From memory pass away, At Hallgarth Mill near Pittington, Was done a murder foul, The female weak- the murderer strong, No pity for her soul. Her skull was broke, her throat was cut, Her struggle was soon o'er; And down she fell, and fetched a sigh, And weltered in her gore. Her fellow servant, Thomas Clarke, To Sherburn slowly sped, And told a tale that strangers six Had done the dreadful deed. Now, woe betide thee, Thomas Clarke! For this thy coward lie; A youth like thee for girl like her Would fight till he did die. "They've killed the lass," it was his tale," and nearly have killed me"; But when upon him folk did look, No bruises could they see."

Notable people


  • Margot Johnson. "Pittington" in Durham: Historic and University City and surrounding area. Sixth Edition. Turnstone Ventures. 1992. ISBN 094610509X. Pages 29 to 31.
  1. ^ "Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  2. ^ David Simpson (10 July 2009). "Colliery history defined shape of village's growth". Durham Times. Archived from the original on 18 June 2010. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  3. ^ "Pittington Hallgarth Conservation Area Character Appraisal" (PDF). Durham County Council. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Saint Laurence". Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  5. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Laurence, Pittington (1310892)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  6. ^ "St Laurence's Church WW1 and WW2". Imperial War Museum.
  7. ^ Durham County Advertiser Friday 13 August 1830, Page: 6
  8. ^ Simpson, David (26 June 2009). "Murder, he said – but he was the murderer". Northern Echo. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  9. ^ "Hallgarth Mill Murder". Retrieved 10 December 2018.

External links

This page was last edited on 27 February 2021, at 12:21
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