Houghton Feast was originated in the time of Queen Mary by Bernard Gilpin, Rector of Houghton-le-Spring. When the rector provided the feast, he generally killed a bullock, and with that and other articles of food he feasted the poor. Gilpin was ordered to be beheaded according to the decree of Queen Mary, and was on his way to London for that purpose when the horse on which he was traveling fell down, and, through the fall, Gilpin had his leg broken. He was taken care of by an inn-keeper. During his illness, Queen Mary died, and Queen Elizabeth, who succeeded her, ordered all clergymen who happened to be prisoners at the time to be set free. After his demise, the feast at Houghton continued to be observed by the people. It gradually got to assume greater importance, and strolling players visited the place on the anniversary of the day on which Gilpin had entertained the poor. The feast falls between 5th and 10th of October.
William Robson, Fence Houses