History of the House
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A History of the House

Ralph Flambard, Bishop of Durham 1099 - 1128 gave "Hewic" to the Convent of Durham.  Aedward the Monk (who built Lindisfarne Priory) had held it before that.  The name means "the farm on the heugh (a hillside spur)".

The first priest of Howick was Asket.

The present church, which is in the grounds of Howick Hall about a mile from the Rectory, was built on the site of an old Norman chapel in 1746 under the auspices of Sir Henry Grey Bart. (We think that the Rectory was built at around the same time.) The church was enlarged by Henry, 3rd Earl Grey in 1849.  Howick Hall was built in 1782 and enlarged in 1809.  The Long Row in Howick Village, the first part of the new Estate Village, was built in 1833.  We do not know for certain when the Rectory was built, but we do know from the Visitation Records of the Bishopric of Durham that in 1827 Earl Grey "accommodated the Curate with a piece of garden contiguous to the rectory house", and there was a glebe land of 5 acres close to the house.  The Rectory would have been built some time between 1746 and 1827.

In 1801 Howick had a population of 184.  By 1841 that had grown to 242.

The early priests of Howick were all Curates under the Archdeaconry of Northumberland within the Parish of Longhoughton.   Howick was separated from Longhoughton and became a Rectory on 6th May 1846, 100 years after the Church was built.  The first Rector of Howick was Oswald Head, who was promoted from Curate. 

 In the Census of 1841, Oswald Head was living in the house with two teenage children, Hannah and Matthew.  In 1851 Oswald Head was still the Rector but the children had both left home and been replaced by two servants.  In 1861 the house was empty.  Edward Mangin became Rector in 1862.

The original Rectory was a double fronted two storey building with a central door.  It has obviously been extended to the East later in its life, the extension consisting of a living room and two bedrooms above, and we think that the attic staircase and attic bedrooms were created at the same time.  We deduced that this was done to accommodate William Champion Streatfield, Rector from 1866 to 1878 who, at the time of the 1871 Census, had five sons living in the house together with his wife and four servants. We guess that the house was extended during his tenure to accommodate his growing family.

By the time of the 1881 Census, the Streatfield family had moved on to Ryton on Tyne where William was the Rector.  There they lived with 6 sons (2 of whom were away at Marlborough College) and 2 daughters. 3 of the sons and 1 daughter were born at Howick after 1871, so we assume that 2 of the 5 sons who were at Howick in 1871 died in childhood. 

In 1881 at Howick, the Streatfields had been replaced by Samuel Bucknell with his wife and two servants.  In the 1891 Census Charles Edward Green had moved in with his Stepmother and two servants.  But things got better for him and by the 1901 Census he had a wife, Annie, who, in 1896, had borne him a son, Charles Clifford.  That meant getting a Governess, 20 year old Alice Twigg, and three maids, Alice McMillan, 25, from Islington, London, Elizabeth Strachan, 46, from Scotland (the Cook?) and 18 year old Jane Walker from Alnwick.  It was the first duty of one of the maids, probably Jane, each morning to go up 2 flights of stairs to the tank room at the end of the passage in the attic and hand pump the water up to fill the huge lead header tank for the family. The water pressure in the village in those days was so low that this was the only way of getting water to a bath on the first floor. (When the house was first built, the water was piped from a spring on the Heugh.) Then she would have to light some or all of the 14 fires around the house.

At the front of the house is the ha-ha, a hidden ditch created to keep the sheep from the field out of the garden, while giving an unbroken view out over the fields.  We have restored it to its former glory.  Beyond the ha-ha in the present field was the tennis court, still in use up to around 1950, and to the right a woodland garden, now abandoned but still full of spring bulbs.

Behind the house is the Coach House and Stables, and behind them the Kitchen Garden, once the pride and joy of Andrew Jamieson, Head Forester at Howick Hall.  We have brought it back into use, with raised beds for vegetables and strawberries and an orchard at the far end.

To the East of the house is the dovecote, used by early residents as a source of food, and behind that the original netty, still with its galvanized bucket under the wooden seat.  Beyond the netty is an old gable end from a very early building.  It is rumoured that this was the site of a Nunnery long ago, which would help to explain the location of the Rectory so far from the Church.

Curates of Howick:
1695-1760 Thomas Nisbet
Thomas Nisbet was born in 1672 at Cockburn's Pass, just over the Scottish Border.  He was educated at St. Andrew's University but left Scotland during the religious difficulties in the reign of James 11 to become tutor to Sir Henry Grey, Bart., at Howick.  In 1695 he became Chaplain and Curate of Howick.  He married Isabel Wake on 31 October 1705 at Embleton.  They had 4 children, John b. 22 August 1706, Grace b. 4 October 1708 (married Rev. G Wolfe 1727), Edward b. February 1710 and Elizabeth b. 1714 but died when she was 2.  Thomas Nisbet died at Howick 26 July 1760 in the 88th year of his life.

1762-93    Thomas Wolfe (descendent of Grace Nisbet and Rev. G Wolfe?)
1797-1809 Charles Thomson
1810-1821 William Horner
1822-1846 Oswald Head
Rectors of Howick:
1846-1854 Oswald Head
1854        Dixon Brown
1860        Hon. George Darner Parnell
1862        Edward Nangreave Mangin
1866        William Champion Streatfield
1878        Samuel Bucknell
1884        Charles E Green