This article examines the relationship between the clergy and their secular neighbours in the diocese of Durham in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. In particular, it seeks to uncover the extent to which the two spheres experienced a shared sense of identity, in a period when that relationship was being recalibrated as the full impact of the Reformation was making itself felt. For example, the novelty of clerical marriage, within and without the clerical community, as well as oppositional doctrinal and confessional outlooks, were superimposed on to existing associations and networks. In other respects interaction between the clergy and lay society fluctuated between harmonious and positive to contentious and damaging. Meanwhile, preconceptions about the diocese are re-examined in the context of this relationship.