Today's Object of the Week is a plaque which marks the house in which one of Darlington’s most significant, but little-known, figures lived.

KNOWN for generations as ‘the Bishop’s house’, a plaque marks the spot which was home for 42 years to the man who became first Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle.

The Northern Echo: PLAQUE

It stands in Coniscliffe Road, Darlington, although previous generations knew it as Paradise Row. That name came about because it was part of the “palace” of Bishop William Hogarth.

Read more: How did two gigantic and magnificent trees end up in a Darlington park?

Hogarth was born in 1786, at remote Dodding Green near Kendal. Aged ten, he was sent to a seminary at Crook Hall, near Consett, which, in 1809, relocated to Ushaw College, near Durham.

A brilliant young student, rather than go to a parish, he was kept at the college as a professor and as an administrator.

He found it tough, particularly when 14 of his students died of cholera in a year. Indeed, in 1816, he had a breakdown and was sent to Cliffe Hall, Piercebridge, a more gentle environment.

The Witham family sold Cliffe in 1824 and William moved into Darlington. For the next 42 years, his home would be the house in Paradise Row.

The Northern Echo: PLAQUE

He soon began raising funds to enlarge Darlington’s first Roman Catholic chapel established by the Reverend John Daniell beside the Slaters Arms, in Bondgate, in 1791.

Architect Ignatius Bonomi, who a year earlier had built the Skerne Bridge carrying the Stockton and Darlington Railway across the river to the north of Darlington, designed a new 450-seat church which opened on May 29, 1827.

Hogarth himself decided it would be named in honour of St Augustine.

When the Northern diocese was split into three smaller dioceses in 1840, Hogarth was the local favourite to become the first bishop of the North-East.

But the Vatican decided upon Henry Weedall from Birmingham. “Had Beelzebub himself been appointed it could not have caused a greater furore," says Gerry Wild in his book The Darlington Catholics.

Weedall was as horrified as anyone and joined the campaign against his own appointment. Rome relented, and instead appointed Dr Francis Mostyn.

He died in 1847 and was succeeded by William Riddell, from Northumberland. He lasted less than three months, because he contracted cholera while ministering to the plague-stricken poor of Newcastle.

And so finally, it was Hogarth’s turn. He became the new bishop and, in 1850, gave the diocese it’s unusual name - Hexham and Newcastle.

The Northern Echo: Bishop William HogarthBishop William Hogarth

This was because Bishop Hogarth did not want the Vatican to make him live in Newcastle.

“A bishop may go into Newcastle occasionally on great occasions, but no one should be condemned to live there," he wrote.

Hexham, he argued, with its ancient overtones, was a far more appropriate place.

Rome accepted his argument, but he still didn’t move to Hexham. He stayed in Paradise Row, where he died on Monday, January 29, 1866.

His loss was felt deeply throughout the district.

“I do not remember a more truly gentlemanly man, and a better or trustier friend does not exist," wrote Francis Mewburn, an Anglican diarist.

Hogarth’s lying-in-state was advertised to begin at 6pm on the Tuesday. A large crowd gathered in Paradise Row, despite the “very unfavourable weather”, and when St Augustine’s doors belatedly opened at 7pm, there was “a rush on the part of the people” to get inside.

When the doors shut at 11pm, there was “a vast number of people” disappointed at being unable to get in.

The funeral was held on the Thursday. “The approaches to St Augustine’s were besieged with a large body of people, amongst whom were many well-dressed females, “ noted the Darlington and Stockton Times.

Of the service, the reporter wrote: “The lamentations and weeping of a large portion of the congregation were most distressing.”

After the service, the bishop’s body was transported up the Great North Road for burial at Ushaw. “The streets along which the procession passed were almost impassable, so densely crowded were they with spectators, “ said the D&S Times.

“Every shop in Darlington was closed and the bells of St Cuthbert’s Church tolled a muffled peal.”

The public collected money to build a pair of obelisks in his memory in West Cemetery, where they stand to this day.

The Northern Echo: Two obelisks in Darlington's West Cemetery dedicated to Bishop Hogarth.

One obelisk is tall and slender and reaches skywards through the light-denying yew trees that surround it.

The other is smaller and Gothic. It contains a photograph of the bishop.

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