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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.

St Laurence's is a mediaeval church in the Diocese of Durham. 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.

Pittington Hill is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.


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[edit]

Hallgarth in the civil parish of Pittington was the scene of a famous nineteenth-century murder in which Thomas Clarke, a 19-year old servant at a water mill, about half a mile to the south west of Hallgarth, was accused of the murder of a servant girl of the same age, Ann Westropp. It was at 6 o'clock in the evening of Sunday 14 August 1830,[4] while the mill owners were away that Clarke, in a most distressed state, alarmed the residents of the village of Sherburn with the information that six Irishmen had broken into the house at Hallgarth. He claimed that they had ransacked the house for money and then assaulted him with a poker before brutally murdering the servant girl. 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 would have fitted the identity of the tool used in the robbery. Further suspicions arose that Clarke was the murderer when it was realised that he 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 on the order of the judge. His last words were; "Gentlemen I am innocent, I am going to suffer for another man's crime".[5]

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[edit]


  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. ^ Durham County Advertiser Friday 13 August 1830, Page: 6
  5. ^ Simpson, David (26 June 2009). "Murder, he said – but he was the murderer". Northern Echo. Retrieved 3 September 2016. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°48′N 1°29′W / 54.800°N 1.483°W / 54.800; -1.483