History - compiled by Chris Lloyd of The Northern Echo.
Saxon (7th to 9th Centuries): There is a theory that the sharp drop at the rear of number eleven is the remains of the protective Saxon ditch and embankment which ran around the ancient Darlington town centre.
Old Norse (8th Century): “gata” is the Old Norse word for “street”- it is not an entrance gate. Houndgate is the street where hounds were kept. Initially, they might have been kept to scare off marauding Scots before sporting uses took over. Hounds were kennelled in Houndgate until as recently as the 1930s.
1630: The St Paul’s Rent records show that Bulmer Priscot was now liable for “his kilnegarth in Hungaite”. Presumably, a kilnegarth was a field with a kiln in it. This name stuck to the site of numbers eleven and twelve for two hundred years.
1790: George Allan’s tax bill for number twelve (which had been built a decade or two earlier) suggests that number eleven was in existence by this time.
1827: Surveyor John Wood of Richmond produced one of the first reliable maps of Darlington town centre, showing numbers twelve, eleven and ten, in the ownership of George Allan Esq. and, because they were one mansion, having a common garden.
15th October 1833: The death of George Allan’s son left him without an obvious heir. This caused the sale of parts of the estate, including the Kilngarth mansion, which had been divided into three houses. Numbers eleven and ten were purchased by Monsieur Eugene de Baste, who planned to turn them into a boarding school.
1840s: Monsieur de Baste’s school appears not to have thrived (possibly due to cholera and typhus) and he sold number eleven to stockbroker Robert Thompson.
6th July 1848: Number eleven was sold for £1,400 by Robert Thompson to sisters Jane, Barbara and Elizabeth Proctor who were relocating their boarding school. They announced their move to Darlington where “they have engaged a large and commodious house in a retired and airy situation”.
1853: The first reference of a Christmas tree ever seen in Darlington was made by Edward Pease. The Tree, located in number eleven, followed the custom started by Prince Albert’s just twelve years earlier.
1st October 1857: The Proctors sold number eleven to William Thompson for £1,500 (the £100 profit would equal a little less than £10,000 profit in today’s values) after they had moved their school to Polam Hall in 1854.
1859: The Church of England Institute was founded in Allan Buildings, Houndgate (presumably number eleven). It was one of several private libraries in the town with 1,000 volumes.
1st April 1878: Robert and William Thompson were declared bankrupt in the depths of a recession. All of their properties, including number eleven were for sale.
1882: The street of Houndgate was completed so it ran from Blackwellgate to Feethams, rather than terminating at number twelve.
7th November 1884: The bank sold number eleven for £2,250 to the School Board for the Borough of Darlington (the value had grown by 50% in the last 25 years, despite the recession).
13th June 1885: At the bottom of the garden of number eleven the Chairman of the Board, Councillor T M Barron used a silver trowel and ceremonial mallet to lay the foundation stone of the new Beaumont St school - the Board's first purpose-built, ratepayer-funded school.
5th August 1886: F T Stevenson was appointed Town Clerk. His role as clerk of the School Board was subsumed into his new post which effectively made him Chief Executive, Solicitor and Secretary to the Town Council. For the next 84 years, number eleven was the Town Clerk's office.
1959-1974: Number eleven and all of Houndgate were under constant threat of demolition as the Shepherd Scheme and then the Tornbohm Plan devised disastrous ways to cover the environs of the Market Place with a civic centre.
1st January 1970: To commemorate its 100th anniversary The Northern Echo restored the fountain from Joseph Pease's Southend mansion and placed it on the green outside number eleven.
March 1970: The title of Town Clerk was dropped in favour of Chief Executive and when the new Town Hall opened the Chief Executive went to work in there.
1973: It was announced that number eleven would become the Registrar’s Office. Over the next twenty years the Registrar shared number eleven with other overspill council departments including Economic Development.
2002: The Registrar’s Office moves to North Lodge. The Council rents the building until 2010.
Onwards: Number eleven is restored to its former glory and Houndgate Townhouse is created – comprising eight bedrooms, a restaurant and a bar.