Sunniside Local History Society

Halls & Manors of County Durham & The Borders


County Durham is unjustifiably overlooked and ignored in most books and treatises on English domestic architecture. True, architectural commentators and critics have explored at length the merits and qualities of its great Cathedral and the County's important stock of early churches like those at Monkwearmouth and Escomb, but in the past the remainder of its architectural and building stock has been disregarded. Its riches are not easily found, neglected as they too often are or hidden away, they nevertheless certainly exist. Only perhaps now are we beginning to appre¬ciate the great store of fine Victorian and Edwardian buildings in the towns and cities of the area and the bold splendours of the North East's early industrial architecture. Nevertheless, there were great periods of domestic design in the county; the complex grandeur of grand houses like Raby; the enormous and relatively unexplored range of fine houses of the early seventeenth century, especially in the Tees valley; the agricultural prosperity and house building of the settled days of the eighteenth century which was linked to a developing squirearchy and the County Towns and interest and dalliance with fashionable eccentricities like the 'Gothick' revival and the mansions and villas of the early nineteenth century.

Sadly much of the best has gone, like Ravensworth Castle demolished in the nineteen thirties, and once the grandest and showiest of Gothic revival ~Castles' in the north. Many fine houses have, simply been allowed to decay, and only comparatively recently have steps been taken to halt this process; others have been plundered for their materials or form part of a subsequent rebuilding. Relatively few of these great houses are today lived in, most are schools, institutions, hospitals, colleges or even offices. Yet many remain as eloquent reminders of both a turbulent and a settled past and as a tribute to their designers, builders, the craftsmen who made them and those who over the years have loved and cared for them.

Pictured above is a typical example of a Durham manor house, at Quarry Hill, Brancepeth. An Elizabethan Grade 2 manor house with housekeepers cottage set in formal pleasure grounds.


Headlam Hall & Thornton Hall

The Tees Valley was a prosperous area-good farming country, which was teflected in a series of large and medium sized manorhouses and farmhouses in the centres of land holdings, many of which were to become minor country seats, all appearing at this time or the subjects of large scale reconstructions or rebuildings. Of this important group Headlam Hall and Thornton Hall are two of the earliest.

Headlam Hall is a gaunt and somewhat severe three storey house, built originally during the time of Elizabeth I, and which was refronted during the 17th century and again during the 18th century. It contains an original staircase, a richly ornamented fireplace bearing the arms of Henry Birkbeck and Anne Brackenbury, and in one of the enclosed grass yards to east the place of internment of the Puritan family of Mossock. For many years the house was a Boarding School. The re¬facing to the west includes an orderly facade of sashes with heavy archi¬traves and a heavy doorcase, with rusticated quoins and cornice.

Thornton Hall pictured above on the right, was originally built by the Tailboys of Hurworth who had acquired it through marriage with a Thornton heiress; the last of the line died in 1606, and soon after it became the property of the Salvins, eventually passing to Henry Bowes of Newcastle before 1636. Both the Salvins and the Bowes altered the house, the principal floors having sashes inserted and the original windows only retained at the attic level. A double porch survives on the south facade, which is capped with a gothic cresting containing grotesque animals. On the ground floor is a fine Jacobean ceiling, intersected by beams. carved with elaborate tracery, and adorned with cyphers on the bosses and along the beams. These are supposed to refer to Raife Tailboys, who died in 1591 and Jane his wife. Another ceiling on an upper floor contains the arms of the Tailboys, and the devices of an archer, fleur de lis, and escallop in the panelling.


Crook Hall

Of the Manor Houses which do survive, Crook Hall, pictured above, is by far the most complete and the most interesting example. The Manor House is probably the second building on the site and was formed of a great hall with wings at either end, one for kitchen and buttery and the other for chambers. The private quarters were originally at the east end, and this block has now disappeared although the doorway, presently blocked still survives, and traces of a stair and chamber fireplace are still there. The garde robe tower stands to the south of the private end of the Hall, and was usually formed with a dias. The garde robe at Crook, a small private closet was flushed with water supplied by a gully from a spring to the North. The Hall itself is of four bays, and has large timber trusses probably of the sixteenth century. At the west is a fireplace with a beehive shaped bread oven, probably also a sixteenth century insertion. A Gallery at the west end faced the dais and was reached by an outside stair, and was sited above the screens passage. The kitchen contains a massive fireplace and a crude staircase of solid oak blocks, probably the earliest in the County, leads to a large chamber above.

The Hall is basically a thirteenth or fourteenth century rebuilding of Peter del Croke's manor house of about 1286. The narrow cusped windows survive from this time. Later in 1463 the Property passed to Cuthbert Billingham and in 1671 to James and Francis Mickleton who erected the range of buildings to the west of the original Hall. Their initials appear over the doorway, '16 IFM 71' and this doorway has one of the Durham type of 'bulls eye' windows over, as at Houghton Hall.

In 1721 the house was sold by James Mickleton's grandson, John and in 1736 the property was purchased by the Hopper family of Shincliffe. The Hoppers added the three storey three bay wing at the west end. This is built of brick with stone dressings, quoins and string courses and contains a pleasant series of rooms, principal of which is the first floor Drawing Room. This contains some good contemporary pine paneling ¬large fielded panels above a dado-and niches for the displays of china. The ceiling is decorated with some simple stucco work composed of a central elliptical panel of a bird with a basket perhaps a play on the name of "Hopper". At the rear of this block is a very fine staircase with alter¬nated fluted columned balusters and balusters with blocking. Durham has an extremely interesting collection of fine staircases, and this is perhaps one of the best examples of those which survive from the first half of the eighteenth century. The Balustrade of the top, attic landing, is of a type which appears elsewhere in the city consisting of broad horizontal 'waved' timber rails. The north gable is flanked by a very large chimney.

After being let to tenants Crook Hall passed to the Rev. James Raine, antiquary, historian and Minor Canon in 1834, and later in 1887 the medieval Hall was used as a cart shed. The Hall remains today, carefully looked after and protected by its present owner.


Stanhope Castle & Hylton Castle

Stanhope Castle was one of the grandest of eighteenth century Gothick mansions in the county, superbly set overlooking the Wear valley and backing on to the centre of the small market town of Stanhope.

It was built by the family of Rippon, also associated with Rogerley Hall, in 1798, and is a large though plainly detailed house, castellated throughout. Witton Castle, further down the Wear valley, was originally a medieval building-Licence to crenellate was obtained in 1410, though much of what is now seen dates from the large scale improvements of circa 1790-95, and again in the nineteenth century.

Hylton Castle near Sunderland pictured above on the right, was first mentioned in 1448, but was probably built about 1400. It can be closely linked with the design of both Lumley and Raby, and today appears not as the gatehouse of a larger castle but a complete tower castle. In the late seventeenth century a wing was built on one flank and a corrsponding wing on the other side in the following century. Engraved views of the Castle of 1787, 1817 and 1846 show both of these wings with classical windows inserted in the main structure and with Gothick revival doors, etc. The estate passed in 1746 to Sir Richard Musgrave who took the name and arms of Hylton, but the estate was sold in 1755 t? Mrs. Bowes of Streatlam and Gibside, though she never appears to have lIved there. Mrs. Bowes may have been responsible for the Gothick revival work, perhaps executed by Daniel Garrett who worked for her at Gibside. Garrett added a porch to the west front and two single storey Gothick bows with a screen between them. The elaborate plasterwork by Pietro la Francini has long since disappeared. The house became slowly ruinous and was leased to Simon Temple who restored the house and furnished it in great style. 'A great proportion of the garden and pleasure grounds was cultivated and laid out in a beautiful manner and the Chapel ornamented and again opened for public worship' as a contemporary description says.

Temple however failed in his commercial enterprises before these works could be completed and in 1819 it passed to Thomas Wade and later became tenements. Both wings were demolished in 1869 when the Victorian Gothic windows and porch were inserted. Today only traces of the eighteenth century work can be seen, and the whole Castle and the nearby Chapel is in charge of the Department of the Environment.


Hamsterley Hall

One of the most endearing of all Gothick Houses in County Durham is Hamsterley Hall, in the Derwent Valley. Here the style is seen at its prettiest, happiest best, and it is still surrounded by its romantic parkland, its gardens, pleasure grounds, plantations and a picturesque bridge over the Pont Burn. It is the epitomy of the late eighteenth century house at its most charming and genial. The estate in its early days passed through many hands, the families of de Felton and Hastings, and eventually to Thomas Swinburne of Capheaton in Northumberland. in 1762, Sir John Swinburne, the fourth Baronet devised the Manor of Hamsterley with that of Medomsley to his brother Henry. It was he who then set about to improve his estates, as was said 'with a painter's eye' and who created the house substantially as we see it today. Henry Swinburne was an indefatigable traveller; indeed, it was he who opened northern European eyes to Spain and the arts and monuments of its ancient inhabitants, publishing his 'Travels in Spain' in 1779, and four years later the first of two volumes of 'Travels in the Two Sicilies'. Henry was a man of great taste and experience, and it was perhaps natural that he should select the fashionable Gothick for the improvement of his house.

The form of the House is a simple rectangle, embellished as appropriate. The plain parapet walls above the cornice are castellated, the string courses and even the cornice itself owing more to Georgian precedent and tradition than Gothick fashion. Only in the ogival form of the upper windows and the fanciful bay window with its pretty pattern of glazing bars is any real Gothicising undertaken. This is really then Gothick fashion applied, pattern book manner, as decoration only to the simple forms of a Georgian House. All this dates from the 1770's. The earlier mullioned and transomed window and bay window are introductions.

Towards the end of the period of Swinburne ownership the House was occupied by General Walter Ker, but in 1810, the whole estate was conveyed to Anthony Surtees. The family of Surtees held considerable estates throughout the County, at Byerside and at Milkwellburn in the parish of Ryton. Anthony Surtees died in 1838, to be succeeded by his second son Robert Smith Surtees, perhaps the most celebrated occupant of Hamsterley. R. S. Surtees, a magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Durham was the author of 'Handley Cross' and the series of hearty 'Jorrocks 'adventures. Anthony Surtees, according to the historian Surtees, considerably improved the planting and woodlands at Hamsterley, although these were ravaged as was the House in the great storm of 1839. Indeed it is this planting now at maturity after 150 years that we can see and enjoy. The Gates Lodge and its splendid attached iron screen are Edwardian, in the manner of the Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer, though not by him.

The present owner has added many features to further embellish this cheerful house; a Gothic Pinnacle, now serving as a garden ornament, from the earlier Houses of Parliament; an ebullient stone Cupola-Pavillion (circa 1610) from the demolished mansion of Beaudesert in Staffordshire and a handsome early eighteenth century doorcase and shell canopy. The house today represents a happy amalgam of Georgian and Gothic architecture, leavened with the present owners delight in objects and elements to please, stimulate and amuse the eye.


Walworth Castle & Newton Hall

One of the most interesting houses of the Tees valley in terms of its architecture is Walworth Castle. Walworth is a remarkable house; built on four sides of a central open court, though originally it must have been open to the north for in the centre of the north side of the southern three storey block is a spectacular three storey porch with three superimposed orders of coupled columns¬ Tuscan, Ionic and Corinthian. This now faces into the closed courtyard but was originally flanked by the East and West by two storeyed wings, with two storeyed bay windows at the North ends. The main south block has sturdy circular towers at the angles. This unique building, owing much to the Elizabethan architectural experiments of John Thorpe at Longford Castle in Wiltshire and elsewhere, probably replaced an earlier house. The design is very accomplished and may well be the work of Thomas Holt, basically a master carpenter, but who was described as 'scholarum publicarum architectus', although the word architect is here somewhat misleading. Holt and his associates, John Ackroyd and John and Michael Bentley, masons, known as 'the good companions', hailed from Halifax, and executed several houses in the North, Stoneyhurst in Lancashire 1592, Browsholme in Yorkshire which was refronted by them in 1604, and work at Oxford in 1609 on the frontispieces of Merton and Wadham Colleges and the great tower of the Bodleian Library. Their work is often typified by the inclusion of a frontispiece embodying the classical orders, such as exists at Walworth. Holt used the orders with precision and some know¬ledge unlike many of the current users of classical elements. Walworth was built by Thomas Jennison, an Auditor in Ireland shortly before 1603. The Estate had originally belonged to the Hansards and the Nevilles passing in the early sixteenth century to William Ayscough, and thence by sale to Thomas Jennison. One of the Jennison's sons was implicated in the 'Popish Plot' of 1679, took orders in the Roman Catholic church and died a prisoner in Newgate. King James I rested at Walworth on his first progress into England on 14th April, 1603 the house then being the residence of Thomas Jennison's widow. The house subsequently passed to the Stephensons, by sale to John Harrison and by marriage to the Aylmer family. It is now a special school in the charge of Durham County Council. The house is surrounded by the remains of a great landscape park and an avenue leading to the North front.

Newton Hall, near Durham city pictured above on the right, has now completely disappeared. It was demolished in 1926. This was a seven bay, three storey house of brick with stone dressings, quoins, string course between first and attic storey and moulded architraves to the windows. The centre three bays were elaborated with Ionic pilasters through two storeys, an elaborate pulvinated frieze and cornice. The house had fine entrance gates to this entrance front and stone piers. The pretty Georgian brick summerhouse survived until recently.

Newton Hall was both elegant and bold, a fine example of a provincial Georgian house of the middle of the eighteenth century, and is a severe loss to the County. Rain water heads were dated 1751, though its style owed more to the early fashions of the beginning of the century. It became the County Lunatic Asylum and was used during the First World War as a barracks.


Auckland Castle

One of the most important Gothick group of buildings is the Bishop's Palace at Bishop Auckland. Auckland Palace was the seat of the Prince Bishops, the Counts Palatine, and was chief aJIlong a string of castles and manors throughout the North held by them. The Palace is sited on a high neck of ground that drops down to the Rivers Wear and Gaunless, and the side opposite the town forms a large and romantic landscape park setting for the house. The approach from the town is first through the Gothick Gatehouse which, crowned by a clock and weather vane, was designed by Robinson, whose own house was at Rokeby near Barnard Castle, for Bishop Trevor. The approach to the group is full of surprises and an expectancy which is heightened by James Wyatt's masterly Gothic screen and inner gateway, part of the works carried out for Bishop Barrington by Wyatt in the 1790's, Wyatt was reviled as 'the prince of sham and stucco', and indeed many of his alterations at Auckland are just that, but the screen is both dramatic in itself and leads the eye and interest carefully to the main entrance of the house.

The Palace was acquired in 1647 by Sir Arthur Hazelrigg, who intended to demolish the buildings then standing and build a new fashion¬able house. It is doubtful if he got far with his plan, for after Sir Athur's fall from power and favour at the Restoration the estate reverted to the Church in 1660 and to John Cosin, the new Bishop, came the task of restoration. The main building of the group was Bishop Pudsey's Great Hall built about 1170-75, and eosin heightened the Hall with the addition of a Clerestorey and new roof, and refaced the exterior. Internally he repaved the Hall and fitted it out as the new Palace Chapel. Work began in 1661, the mason draughtsman was John Longstaffe, the stone carver Richard Herring, and the joiners James Hall, Abraham Smith and John Brasse. Over £17,000 was spent rebuilding and repairing the Castles at Durham and Auckland, and £1,000 on fittings and plate for the Auckland Chapel.

Perhaps the most important element of the interior of the Chapel was the great screen, a flamboyant example of Carolean woodwork. The stone facing of the Chapel carried out at this time is a curious pattern of raised 'header' stone each ornamented with banding and Lozenge patterns. The east end of the Chapel was changed, first by Bishop Barrington in the 1790's-Wyatt's drawing still survives for this work-by Bishop Van Mildert in 1827-28 and finally for Bishop Lightfoot in the 1880's by C. Hodgson Fowler of Durham.

The Chapel contains the splendid tomb of Bishop Richard Trevor by Nollekens, and it is Trevor who was responsible for the next phase of the alterations. Trevor knew Horace Walpole's chief designer Richard Bentley, and indeed Bentley produced a design for the main gateway, later designed by Robinson. Robinson had worked for Trevor at Glynde in Sussex the Trevor family estate. Robinson's drawing also bears the name of William Atkinson, the local architect, and probably the father of the William Atkinson who was born in Auckland in 1773 and who was later to design the Entrance Lodges at Castle Eden for Rowland Burdon. Trevor's other works at Auckland included the Gothick south range, completed by his successor Bishop Egerton, though the King Charles Room and the Great Dining Room, both of which contain fine stucco work date from the mid 1750's.

John Carr, of York produced a plan 'for a new Dining Room given to Bishop Trevor, and Carr had also produced designs for and worked at Raby. The plasterwork of the Dining Room and King Charles .Room the latter in a freer and more imaginative style with a large sunburst in the centre and a border of rich scrollwork, heads and garlands is similar to that at St Helen Hall, St Helen Auckland, which is probably the work of the York craftsman Thomas Perritt who was also working at Raby. By 1760 Bishop Trevor had spent £16,000 at Auckland but never lived to see his work completed. The next great contributor to Auckland Palace was Bishop Shute Barrington who arrived in the North in 1791. Barrington was responsible for employing James Wyatt at both Durham Cathedral and Auckland Palace. Wyatt had however previously been closely associated with ecclesiastical work, at Westminster Abbey in 1776 and at Salisbury in 1787. Wyatt's work at Auckland started with the creation of the Porch linking Chapel and the Main Block in 1794, the Inner Screen and Gateway m 1796 and alterations to the Chapel itself in 1797.

The major work was however the creation of an imposing series of Staterooms. William Atkinson junior worked with him and created a magnificently imposing, plaster Gothick series of rooms. First the Entrance Hall and Staircase !he latter with cast iron Gothick balusters leading to the first floor, then into the elegant octagonal Ante Room, plaster vaulted and with Gothick niches, leading into the principal State Room, a massive room within the older medieval structure and where the great timber roof is encased within the wide plaster vaults. The axis of the Room centres on the Bishop's' Throne, a Gothick seat not unlike Adam's Throne in the Chapel at Alnwick Castle, set within a delicate though again rather 'thin' plaster recess. The doors throughout the suite are of oak, intricately panelled with interlaced Gothick panels and with elaborate furniture. Sir Walter Scott describes the former Hall as “impressive for its rude antiquity and fortu¬nately free from the plaster of modern improvement, as I trust it will long be free from the gingerbread of modern gothicisers”. The hope was to ,be short lived, for no one was more proficient in the medium of gingerbread plaster Gothick than Wyatt as was later to be proved in the great 'stage set' house at Fonthill Abbey which he designed for William Beckford in rural Wiltshire.


Rockcliffe Hall

Rockcliffe Hall has a long and mixed history and trying to work it all out could bring a person out in a sweat. Appropriate enough, when you think of it.

The hall can date its roots to the turn of the 19th century, and since then its fortunes have been mixed. The ups have included the early optimism of one of its owners, the Quaker Alfred Backhouse, who established the hall, previously named Pilmore House, and its grounds.

Lord Southampton continued the optimistic times when he bought the estate in 1918. A keen cricketer and sportsman, he lived there on and off until 1948, and set up the Rockliffe Park Cricket Club, which still exists today.

In 1950, the estate was bought by the Brothers of St John of God and converted into a hospital, and nearly 20 years later it was compulsorily purchased by Durham County Council and put into use as a community centre. If the slide from greatness had perhaps set in by then, the downwards journey ended with the once-grand place derelict and at the mercy of vandals. Along the way, Michael Caine came to call in 1971 to shoot scenes from the groundbreaking British thriller, Get Carter.

In 1996, Rockliffe Park, in the village of Hurworth, was bought by Middlesbrough Football Club and new training facilities were built near the dilapidated hall. The club’s chairman, Steve Gibson, established Rockliffe Hall Developments and his company spent an estimated £50 million, according to reports in the Northern Echo, restoring the hall and its orangery, and building a massive extension containing bedrooms and a spa. That’s where the sweating comes in.

Rockliffe Hall is now a five-star hotel, spa and golf resort, with a course which is said to be one of the longest and finest in the north of England. Further elaboration on the golfing facilities will not be forthcoming, due to this writer’s inability with a club, but those of our party who did play returned mightily impressed.


Morton House & Friarage Manor House

A magnificent stone built detached family home. Morton House at Houghton Le Spring, Chilton Moor, was built in the early 1700s and occupies a substantial site extending to approx 12.5 acres. Tall mature trees and woodlands surround the site offering seclusion. The property is Grade two listed with the front facade being particularly impressive.

This special house has a rich and interesting history dating back hundreds of years, a manor in the 16th Century. The more recent front, with the entrance dated 1709, has a typical queen anne façade, a noted period for domestic architecture. Morton House has had some notable owners and visitors throughout its years including Kings, religious dignatories and local, wealthy industrial owners such as shipowners and colliery directors.

Walled gardens lie to the north dating from the late 18th Century and early 19th Century creating an enclosed courtyard area.

It is worth noting that all the rooms benefit from exquisite features. As well as the majority of the rooms having feature fireplaces and original style windows, the rooms on the ground floor benefit from incredible detailed plasterwork. The cornicing and ceiling roses of the formal drawing room, sitting room and dining room have been beautifully restored and provide added interest.

Friarage Manor House, Hartlepool Headland

Built in 1605 this ruined building, pictured above on the right, was a large rectangular gabled mansion with mullioned and transomed windows, erected probably in the latter part of the 16th or beginning of the 17th century. The walls were tolerably perfect in 1825, but the roof and some of the gables had disappeared. Very little or nothing of this building now remains in the Hartlepool hospital, which occupies its site and has developed from it. Used at one time as a workhouse, the building was converted into a hospital in 1867 and rebuilt with the exception of a small portion at the east end in 1889. The grounds are inclosed by an old stone wall.


Ferryhill Manor House

The Manor House began its life in the 16th Century, as a farmhouse. The Manor House website records "the original house is substantial with large stone fireplaces on the ground floor with one above in the bedroom".

Robert Surtees, a well known local historian during the end of the Nineteenth Century, records the following in his book "The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham: Volume 3": "The chief mansion-house in Ferry-hill, a spacious gavel-ended house, with a large pleasant garden, laid out in regular walks and parterres, with hedges of clipped evergreens ..." On the old Manor House farm gate, which can be seen at the right hand side of Church Lane, there is a poem that is shown to all passers-by:

How happily seated those Lares are, Who feed on prospect and fresh air, Dine moderately every day, And walk their supper time away.

In 1615, Mr L Wilkinson of the Parish of Merrington was granted a Coat of Arms. Due to the size of Ferryhill, a mere five dwelling houses, Mr Wilkinson was probably the first owner of the Manor House, the largest house built in the end of the 16th Century. However, in 1642, Captain John Shaw, also known to be a Church Warden and a Constable, was the new owner of the Manor House. The Charles The First and Parliament Civil War split Ferryhill into two sides, and when Parliament won the war, and Mr Shaw had his estate seized, but it was returned back to the Shaw family upon Captain John Shaw's death, to his Grandson, Ralph.

The next known occupancy of the Manor House was the Arrowsmith family, at probably the beginning of the 19th Century. Thomas Arrowsmith was the first of his family to own the Manor House. Durham County Council County Record Office [Archives EP/Fer 4/1-4] records Thomas Arrowsmith making profits through leases of land, notably in the "Great Chilton" area. The coal trade was recorded in Ferryhill, in 1821, where it is noted that Mr Thomas Arrowsmith’s works were providing employment that attracted other workers from the outlying villages. Records show that Thomas had to take out two mortgages for securing his family's ownership of the Manor. Upon Thomas's death in 1845, the Manor House, including the farming lands adjoining the property, was passed onto his wife and daughters.

In 1885, the land adjoining the Manor House was sold to local Colliery owners. In 1891 the Manor House was restored by Colliery Manager Mr Henry Palmer.

It was around this time until round about the 1920's, that the Manor House was noted at first to be a Doctors Surgery and then a Nursery - but the house was noted as too small for the children.

In 2001, the Manor House was bought by its present owners Bruno and Pat, where it is now a Hotel. In the end of the 20th Century, the Manor House was named "The Badger's Set" but this was only for a short while, when it was returned back to its original name "The Manor House".

The Coverage

The Manor House in Ferryhill was featured on Living TV’s "Most Haunted” programme during mid-April 2004. A team of seventeen crew and cameramen, including ex-Blue Peter star, Yvette Fiending, and medium, Derek Accora, spent the night inside the oldest house in Ferryhill. The Manor was "famed" for reports of spiritualistic occurrences, including objects being moved around and sightings of a woman who allegedly walks around some of the rooms, and the most interesting, “proof” that a murder took place inside. The TV crew spent all night from 8.00pm onwards in the building, which for the first time in many years, was closed to the public.

When the Manor held a “spooky” night, a medium sensed that a murder had taken place in Room 8, and in the same room, Derek went into a violent trance at which he hurled a lamp across the room as he felt an evil spirit enter his body. The sense of presence of the same man, as in Room 7, was also felt. Later the team of presenters visibly shook with fright was a television set suddenly switched itself on in the room.

Room 6 is noticed as haunted by a young boy who can be heard crying and looking for his mother. Upstairs is reported that the ghost of a lady nicknamed Betty, wandering around looking for her young son!

Before the "Most Haunted" team left the Manor, they arranged for the rooms to be exorcised. Since then, there have been no reports of spiritual reports.


Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet, FRSE (15 August 1771 – 21st September 1832) Abbotsford House

Initially the estate was a small farm of 100 acres (0.40 km2), called Cartleyhole, nicknamed Clarty (i.e., muddy) Hole, and was bought by Scott on the lapse of his lease (1811) of the neighbouring house of Ashestiel. He first built a small villa and named it Abbotsford, creating the name from a ford nearby where previously abbots of Melrose Abbey used to cross the river. Scott then built additions to the house and made it into a mansion, building into the walls many sculptured stones from ruined castles and abbeys of Scotland. In it he gathered a large library, a collection of ancient furniture, arms and armour, and other relics and curiosities, especially connected with Scottish history. The last and principal acquisition was that of Toftfield (afterwards named Huntlyburn), purchased in 1817. The new house was then begun and completed in 1824.

Ground plan of Abbotsford House pictured above on the right. The general ground-plan is a parallelogram, with irregular outlines, one side overlooking the Tweed; and the style is mainly the Scottish Baronial. Into various parts of the fabric were built relics and curiosities from historical structures, such as the doorway of the old Tolbooth in Edinburgh. Scott had only enjoyed his residence one year when (1825) he met with that reverse of fortune which involved the estate in debt. In 1830, the library and museum were presented to him as a free gift by the creditors. The property was wholly disencumbered in 1847 by Robert Cadell, the publisher, who cancelled the bond upon it in exchange for the family's share in the copyright of Sir Walter's works. Scott's only son Walter did not live to enjoy the property, having died on his way from India in 1847. Among subsequent possessors were Scott's son-in-law, John Gibson Lockhart, J. R. Hope Scott, QC, and his daughter (Scott's great-granddaughter), the Hon. Mrs Maxwell Scott.

The house was opened to the public in 1833, but continued to be occupied by Scott's descendants until 2004. The last of his direct descendants to hold the Lairdship of Abbotsford was his great-great-great-granddaughter Dame Jean Maxwell-Scott (8 June 1923 - 5 May 2004).

She inherited it from her elder sister Patricia in 1998. The sisters turned the house into one of Scotland's premier tourist attractions after they had to rely on paying visitors to afford the upkeep of the house.

It had electricity installed only in 1962. Dame Jean was at one time a lady-in-waiting to Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, patron of the Dandie Dinmont Club.


Melrose Abbey

There has been a monastery at Melrose, or Mailros, since about 650AD. The first monastery was founded here by St Aidan of Lindisfarne and monks came from St Columba's monastery on Iona. This monastery was located in a loop in the River Tweed two miles to the east of today's Melrose, now known as Old Melrose.

In 1136 King David I asked Cistercian monks from Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire to found an abbey at Melrose. David intended this to be on the site of St Aidan's monastery, which had been destroyed by Kenneth Mac Alpin and the Scots in 839. The Cistercians, however, needed good farming land within which to place their abbey, and negotiated instead for a site two miles away in what we today call Melrose.

Melrose Abbey was first staffed by an abbot and 12 monks from Rievaulx, who set to work constructing the abbey buildings. The east end of the Abbey Church would have been built first, and a service of dedication for it took place on 28 June 1146. Other buildings in the complex were slowly constructed over a period of at least another 50 years. The best known monk at Melrose during this period was Jocelin, who rose to become the the 4th Abbot of Melrose Abbey in 1170. In 1150, only 14 years after its own foundation, Melrose was asked by David I to found a daughter house at Kinloss Abbey in Moray.

In 1322 Melrose Abbey and the town that had grown up around it were attacked by the English army of Edward II. Much of the abbey was destroyed and many monks were killed. The subsequent rebuilding was helped greatly by the generosity of Robert the Bruce. This link was later formally recognised when Robert's embalmed heart, encased in lead, was buried at Melrose Abbey. In 1385 the Scots invaded northern England (see our Historical Timeline). This was not a wise move. Richard II of England defeated David II of Scotland and pushed the Scots back as far as Edinburgh, burning down Melrose Abbey as his army passed by.

Over a hundred years of reconstruction followed, possibly even started by the English under Richard II and later continued by the Scots. Parts of the work was still unfinished when James IV paid a royal visit in 1504, and it is thought that the west end of the Abbey Church may never have been completed to the original plan.

But what was built was magnificent enough, as you can see for yourself: virtually everything on view today can be dated back to this last round of reconstruction.

English armies returned to southern Scotland in 1544, this time in support of efforts by Henry VIII to persuade the Scots to betroth the infant Mary Queen of Scots to his son. Melrose and its abbey were both badly damaged. By 1556 the remaining monks complained that unless repairs were carried out the abbey would not be able to continue to function over the approaching winter.

After 1560 the monks at Melrose Abbey embraced the Reformation in an effort to ensure their personal security, but they did so within a badly damaged and rapidly deteriorating building. The last resident monk died at Melrose in about 1590.

In 1610 part of the central portion of the nave of the Abbey Church was converted into a parish church for Melrose, with end walls and windows inserted into the existing structure. This continued in use until replaced by a new church elsewhere in Melrose in 1810. Melrose Abbey today comprises the fairly complete ruins of the truly remarkable Abbey Church with, to their north, the foundations of the extensive ranges of buildings which once comprised the rest of the abbey. At the eastern end of the complex these extend through the Lay Brothers Range as far as the millstream constructed to divert water from the River Tweed.

At the north end of the site is the Commendator's House. The Commendator was an appointed abbot, in latter years usually someone with powerful friends or relations wanting to benefit from the income attached to the post. The house dates back to the 1400s and 1500s and is today used as a museum to display various finds from the abbey.



The surname Belasis derives from the historic manor of Belasis near Billingham, which was a seat of the Belasis, Lambton and Eden families. Belasis is a Norman-French name meaning beautiful seat and it is likely that the surname came about shortly after the place was named. Rowland de Belasis, identified by his place of origin was the first holder of the surname and was a Knight of the Bishop of Durham who lived at nearby Cowpen Bewley around 1264.

Later Belasis passed into the hands of Durham Cathedral, but the Belasis family continued their association with the area. Between 1270 and 1280, a John De Belasis held land around Wolviston and there is a tradition that he exchanged part of Belasis for territory at Henknowle near Bishop Auckland. The arms of the Belasis family in the church of St Andrews Auckland at South Church were said to be inscribed with the words 'Johnny Belasis daft was thy poll, when thou exchanged Belasis for Henknowell'. The most famous member of the Belasis family was Miss Mary Belasis of Brancepeth Castle near Durham who lived in the eighteenth century and fell in love with one Bobby Shafto, a County Durham MP. She is said to have sung the words 'he'll come back and marry me', but he returned from sea to marry someone else. She died of a broken heart. The Belasis family also had strong connections with Coxwold near Thirsk, Yorkshire.

Brancepeth Castle pictured above on the right.

A succession of buildings has been on the site. The first was a Norman castle built by the Bulmers, which was rebuilt by the Nevilles in the late 14th century. For many years the castle was owned by the Neville family until in 1569 it was confiscated by the Crown following the family's involvement in the Rising of the North. There have been a number of other owners since that time. In the early 17th century the estate was granted by the Crown to Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset, from whom it subsequently confiscated the castle back due to his involvement in a poisoning scandal. In 1636, three men who had bought the castle from the King's Commissioners in 1633 sold it to Ralph Cole of Newcastle. His grandson, Sir Ralph Cole MP, sold the property on 9 April 1701 to Sir Henry Belaysyse, whose daughter was involved with Bobby Shafto and who was said to have inspired the famous song. In 1796 the castle was acquired by the Russells.

The present building is largely a 19th-century restoration carried out in the 1820s by John Matthew Russell and improved in the mid-19th century by architect Anthony Salvin for William Russell, (High Sheriff of Durham in 1841). During the First World War the castle was used as a hospital by convalescents from Newcastle General Hospital. In 1939 it became the regimental headquarters for the Durham Light Infantry, who erected a military camp of over 100 huts to the south of the village during the Second World War. The Durham Light Infantry left the Castle in 1962.

The castle is now privately owned by the Dobson family. Margaret Dobson, wife of publisher Dennis Dobson, bought the castle in 1978 to store the company's stock of books when the lease on its Notting Hill premises expired. Her husband died that year before the move north, but the family moved nevertheless and Margaret Dobson did much to restore the fabric and interior of the building, including the lead roof, which had been stripped by an earlier tenant. She refurbished many of the main function rooms for use as a venue for auctions and twice-yearly craft fairs, Shakespearean plays were staged in the main courtyard, and rooms were rented to post-graduate students at Durham University and other tenants. Margaret Dobson died aged 86 on 19 October 2014, leaving four sons and three daughters.



Is a country house in the civil parish of Cartington, near Rothbury in Northumberland, England. It was the first house in the world to be lit using hydroelectric power. Built into a rocky hillside above a forest garden of just under 1,000 acres, it was the country home of armaments manufacturer, Lord Armstrong, and has been in the care of theNational Trust since 1977. The property was eventually opened to the public in 1979.

Cragside, named after Cragend Hill above the house, was built in 1863 as a modest two-storey country lodge, but was subsequently extended to designs by Richard Norman Shaw, transforming it into an elaborate mansion in the Free Tudor style. At one point, the building included an astronomical observatory and a scientific laboratory. The Grade Ilisted house is surrounded by one of Europe's largest rock gardens, a large number of rhododendrons and a large collection of mostly coniferous trees. One variety of rhododendron is named after Lady Armstrong.

In 2007, Cragside reopened after undergoing "total refurbishment." Lord Armstrong spent much of his time as a child in Rothbury to get away from industrial Newcastle to alleviate his ill health. He returned to Rothbury after not having a holiday for many years and decided to build a modest house on the side of a moorland crag. The original house was completed in 1863 by an unknown architect but was transformed by architect Richard Norman Shaw between 1869 and 1884 into an imposing mansion. Cragside is an example of his English Gothic style. The interiors are of national importance for its collection of furnishings, furniture (much designed especially for Cragside), and fine and decorative arts, including work by many other outstanding designers of the age, such as John Hancock and Albany Hancock and William Morris.

In 1868, a hydraulic engine was installed, with water being used to power labour-saving machines such as laundry equipment, a rotisserie and a hydraulic lift. In 1870, water from one of the estate's lakes was used to drive a Siemens dynamo in what was the world's first hydroelectric power station. The resultant electricity was used to power an arc lamp installed in the Gallery in 1878. The arc lamp was replaced in 1880 by Joseph Swan's incandescent lamps in what Swan considered 'the first proper installation' of electric lighting. The generators, which also provided power for the farm buildings on the estate, were constantly extended and improved to match the increasing electrical demand in the house.

The 2006 regeneration project included extensive rewiring. A new hydro-powered electricity generator was installed in 2014; it can provide 12 kw representing around 10% of the property's electricity consumption.

The new system uses an Archimedes' screw 17 metres (56 ft) long . The use of electricity in many of the houses gadgets and internal systems has also led it to be described by some as a smart home as it was the first private residence to use incandescent lighting, a dish washer, a vacuum cleaner and a washing machine. One of Armstrong's stated aims of both using and funding these new automation technologies was to "emancipate the world from household drudgery", as shown on a plaque at Bamburgh Castle, his other residence.

Lemmington Hall pictured above on the right,

Is an 18th-century country mansion incorporating a 15th-century tower house, situated near Edlingham, Northumberland, England. It is a Grade II* listed building. The original tower house built for the Beadnall family in the early 15th century was a four-storey construction which was reduced in height in the 17th century when Nicholas Fenwick ( Mayor of Newcastle 1720) converted the building into a country house.

Despite substantial alterations and improvements by architect William Newton in the late 18th century, the property had become a roofless ruin by the end of the 19th century. It was completely restored by Sir Stephen Aitchison, who acquired the ruinous property in 1913. In 1927 Aitchison bought an 80-foot-high (24 m) column, designed by Sir John Soane dedicated to the memory of members of the Evelyn family of Felbridge, Surrey, which he dismantled and re-erected in the grounds at Lemmington.

In 1825 the property was acquired by William Pawson of Shawdon Hall (High Sheriff of Northumberland in 1826) and in 1947 was converted for use as a convent for the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. More recently the house has been used as a residential care home. The hall has recently been renovated; it is under ownership of the Ruff family. The Ruff family also own a selection of animals on the Lemmington Hall estate including peacocks and peahens.

After completion of renovating Lemmington Hall the Ruff family also took on the responsibility to renovate several of the outbuildings. One of them was forge cottage, this has been transformed into a luxury holiday cottage, previous to it being a holiday rental it was a dilapidated building which was once home to the local blacksmith of the area.


Dunstanburgh Castle

A magnificent fourteenth-century castle with a dramatic past. Outlined against the sky, on a basalt crag more than 30 metres (100ft) high, stands the jagged silhouette of this magnificent fourteenth-century castle.

The background to the building of Dunstanburgh Castle and the history of those associated with it is one of turmoil and unrest, as dramatic in itself as the Castle’s surroundings. Built at a time of political crisis and Anglo-Scottish conflict, the strained relations between King Edward II and his nephew, Thomas Earl of Lancaster, who built the Castle, led eventually to rebellion and to the capture and execution of the Earl in 1322.

By the sixteenth century, Dunstanburgh had fallen into decay. The Castle, which had been built on the grandest possible scale and had reflected the lavish tastes of the Earl, was by then perceived to be of no use and so left to ruin.

However, even at this time, Dunstanburgh retained its sense of the dramatic: a ballad told of a resident ghost, that of Sir Guy the Seeker. Having failed to rescue a beautiful lady held captive in a hall under the castle, Sir Guy was said to roam the castle ruins, moaning dismally to anyone who would listen.

Etal Castle Cornhill-On-Tweed, Northumberland, pictured above on the right.

Started out as a three-storey tower house, but its location near the border with Scotland made it vulnerable to attack. In 1341, the owner, Robert Manners, was granted a licence to fortify his home. He created a roughly square courtyard enclosed by curtain walls, with the tower house in one corner and a large gatehouse diagonally opposite and a tower at each of the other corners. The tower house was improved with the addition of another storey and crenulations. By the start of the 16th century the Manners were living elsewhere and the castle was in the care of a constable. In 1513 the castle fell to the army of James IV of Scotland during his failed invasion of England. James was killed nearby during the Battle of Flodden, when a hastily recruited army of 20,000 Northerners decisively beat his army of 30,000 Scots.

In 1549 the castle was ceded to the Crown, possibly in an attempt to reduce the neglect of this strategic border castle. With the union of the English and Scottish crowns in 1603 Etal ceased to have any military purpose and the decay, which had already set in was allowed to continue unabated. An award-winning exhibition tells the story of the Battle of Flodden and of the border warfare which existed here before the union of the English and Scottish crowns in 1603.


Lambton Castle

Although large parts of Lambton Castle still stand, the romantic castle of the 1820's, designed by Ignatius Bonomi for 'Radical Jack' Lambton, the 1st Earl of Durham, and enlarged still further in the 1860's by John Dobson and Sidney Smirke, was drastically reduced in 1932.

The Lambtons acquired the Harraton Hall estate from the Hedworths in 1688. About a century later, General John Lamb¬ton (1710-94) conceived the idea of building a great neoclassical house, Lambton Hall, on the site of Harraton Hall. His son William Henry Lambton (1765-97) commissioned the architect Joseph Bonomi (1739-1808) to make designs, but Lambton's death brought the project to an end. Bonomi was retained, however, by the trustees of his son, John George Lambton (1792-1840), and between 1796 and 1802 created a substantial house in the 'Adam' castle style, towering above the River Wear. The exterior of Lambton Hall is shown in an engraving in Surtees' Durham, 1816, and the neoclassical interiors were illustrated in paintings by Bonomi shown at the Royal Academy in 1800-02.

This neoclassical work was swept a way, and the Hall was transformed into Lambton Castle in the 1820's for John George Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham, by Bonomi's son Ignatius Bonomi (1789-1870), the Durham architect. Lambton was possibly inspired by Lord Ravens¬worth's nearby castle, and there is a record of him and Bonomi inspecting Brancepeth Castle in 1822. Lambton Castle, high above the Wear, had the advantage of a more spectacular site; and Bonomi exploited it to the full. He kept the shell of his father's Hall, romanticised it with battlements, towers turrets, a cloister pinnacles, and continued the Castle along a vast terrace constructed above the steep river valley. He cleverly embellished a wing with flying buttresses, and terminated the facade with an octagonal tower based on Guy's Tower at Warwick Castle.

In the time of the 2nd Earl, the Castle foundations, which had been built over old coal workings, began to fail, and the Castle was threatened with collapse. Bonomi, who had retired from practice, was unfairly blamed for bad design. The task of shoring up the building was given to Bonomi's Newcastle colleague John Dobson. More than £35,000 was spent on £35,000 was spent on filling up the old seams and stabilising the foundations. In 1860-65 part of the Castle was dismantled and replaced (at a cost of more than £45,000) by a huge Great Hall, porte-cochere and reception rooms, to designs of Dobson's son-in-law Sidney Smirke. The hall, a towering room, was modelled on the chapel of Hampton Court Palace. Vast new service wings were also added.

By the 1920's this had become unmanageable, and in 1932 Dobson and Smirke's additions, the service ranges, and the link between Bonomi's 'chapel-like' range and the tower, were demolished by the 4th Earl of Durham. The remaining part was occupied for some time, but after the 1939-45 war Lord Durham made over the estate to his son, Viscount Lambton, who chose to live in the smaller, early 18th century Biddick Hall on the estate. Lambton Castle was leased to Durham County Council in 1966 for teacher training accommodation, but is now disused. Amazingly, two eighteenth century rooms from Harraton Hall survived the successive rebuildings and still exist. On the south side, some of Igna¬tius Bonomi's 1820's rooms, with Tudor details, survive.

Coxhoe Hall above on the right.

High on a south-facing hillside, Coxhoe was a plain classical house of c.1725 given a Gothic trim some years later. It was a seat of John Burdon, who created the land¬scape gardens at Hardwick Hall, Sedgefield.

The medieval house at Coxhoe belonged to the Blakistons from about 1400 to 1600. Soon afterwards Mary Blakiston married Sir William Kennett of Sellenge, Kent. The Kennetts owned Coxhoe until Mary Kennett married William, 5th Earl of Seaforth, in 1714. Lord Seaforth, a Jacobite, fled abroad after the Old Pretender's failed uprising in 1715, and in 1725 Coxhoe was sold to John Burdon. Burdon was from South Shields, and was the youngest of 18 children.

Burdon rebuilt the Hall soon afterwards. It is not clear when the Gothic features - battlements and a few pointed windows - were added. Burdon bought Hardwick in 1748 and set about its landscaping, employing James Paine to design his garden buildings and John Bell, a Durham builder, to execute them. The expense bankrupted him, and in 1758 he sold Coxhoe to John Swinburn, husband of his 'niece Sarah Burdon.

Inside was some good plasterwork, perhaps designed by Paine and executed by Giuseppe Cortese (who worked at Hardwick and at nearby Elemore Hall). The entrance hall opened into the stairhall through a doorway of Venetian shape. The stair hall had plaster panels, swags and cartouches; and in the drawing room was rococo work. There was an exuberant chimney piece, with crossed palms and a bracket above, and a swirling ceiling with a female figure in the centre. Unfortunately the only known photograph does not show the ceiling completely.

William Swinburn succeeded his brother John in 1774, and from him it passed to Major William Swinburn; but difficulties about the inheritance led to a Chancery order to sell Coxhoe in 1794. There were several short ownerships and tenancies, including that of Edward Moulton Barrett and his wife in the early 1800's. Their daughter the poet Elizabeth Barrett (Browning) was born at Coxhoe in 1806. In 1817 Anthony Wilkinson of Durham bought the Hall, and in 1850 it passed to Thomas Wood, a mining engineer. He made several alterations and additions, including a single-storey billiard room which continued the castellated style. He later moved to Surrey but was succeeded at Coxhoe by his son, William Henry Wood, a coal owner, who lived there until his death in 1910. His wife continued at Coxhoe until 1928, and his son succeeded her.

Coxhoe was offered for sale in 1938, and was bought by the East Hetton Colliery Company. There had been pits nearby since the early 19th century. It was requisitioned in the 1939-45 war, and used to house Italian and German prisoners. Afterwards it was occupied by squatters, vandalised, and condemned by the National Coal Board, which claimed that coal workings beneath it had made it unsafe. It was demolished by 1956.

In the time of the Woods the hillside was said to be inhabited by innumerable tame rabbits of many colours and varieties, now all gone.


Cocken Hall near Chester-le-Street

Nothing is known of the Anglo Saxon owner, Cocca, but in 1133 a priest called Ellafus gave Cocken to the Priory of Durham. In agreement with Roger of Kibblesworth, the Priory exchanged it for lands at Wolviston. Roger’s daughter and heir, then sold it to Finchale Priory. After the dissolution of the monasteries, King Henry VIII gave Cocken to John Hilton of Newcastle, whose wife, Isabel had previously been married to Newcastle Mayor Ralph Carr. After Hilton’s death, she married another Newcastle man, John Frankleyn. Her grandson from her first marriage, also called Ralph Carr inherited Cocken in the late 16th Century. Cocken passed through this line until 1642, when another branch of the Carr family purchased the estate. A later member of the family was yet another Ralph Carr, who was Mayor of Newcastle in 1676, 1693 and 1705.

He was also an MP. In about 1671, the Carrs of Cocken, acquired additional land at High Grange, near Gilesgate, an estate that stretched as far as the North Side of what is now Carrville High Street. Although the Carrs remained owners of the property, the hall became a convent for a group of Teresian (Carmelite) Nuns in the early 19thCentury. The nuns had been expelled from England and took refuge at Lierre, in Belgium, but in 1795 the French Revolution forced them to return to England, by now a country more tolerant of Catholicism. They found accommodation in St. Helen’s Hall, in St. Helen’s Auckland, then in 1804 the Carrs took the Nuns to Cocken Hall. The convent consisted of 16 Choir Nuns, 6 lay sisters and a prioress called Dame Jessop. They remained at Cocken hall until 1830, when the opening of a nearby coal mine forced them to seek a new site. The Nuns moved to Field House in what was then open countryside near Darlington and the convent still exists in the town’s Nunnery Lane.

Cocken had remained in the Carr family then in 1812, William Carr inherited some Cheshire land and a title, making him William Standish-Standish of Duxbury Hall. He spent his later years at Cocken Hall, where he died on 21st February, 1878 aged 42 years. Sometime after the departure of William, although the exact date is uncertain, a champion pugilist turned coal owner, John Gully went to live at the Hall. Gully, who was originally from Bath, once competed - and lost - in a 59 round bare knuckle boxing bout against Henry (the game chicken) Pearce. Later he would become a champion, investing his winnings in racehorses and mines in Durham, including Thornley, Ludworth and Wingate.

The sisters of William Standish-Carr-Standish: Emma Isabella Harriet who married Sir J.G.T. Sinclair bart, Susan Emilia Georgina who married Colonel George William Paulett, Margaret Laura Mulgrave who married Edmund Berkeley Lucy.

Bishop’s Manor House, pictured above on the right.

AMID the mud behind Darlington Town Hall, the remains of the 12th Century Bishop’s Manor House are being revealed for the first time in more than 200 years.

Archaeologists are digging into the past before work on the future Department for Education offices begins in a month’s time. The tarmac of the old car park has been peeled off and six feet under lie the remains of the Bishop of Durham’s palace. In his heyday, the Prince Bishop had residences all over his diocese: Bishop Middleham, Easington, Stockton and Evenwood, as well as Darlington and had outlying manor houses to go with his main palaces in Auckland Castle and Durham Castle.

Bishop Hugh le Puiset began building his manor house on the banks of the Skerne at the end of the 12th Century at the same time as he was upgrading the neighbouring simple stone church into the grand St Cuthbert’s. His manor house was made of stone and it rose until it was three storeys high – it must have looked very impressive to the ordinary people of the town who lived on High Row in their single-storey timber framed shacks.

But, of course, the Bishop didn’t need a palace in every place, and very soon his Skerneside residence was relegated to the status of an estate office, where his officials did their business. It was also a lodging house for members of royalty and aristocracy when they were passing through the district – kings and princesses stayed there. The house was damaged in the English Civil War of the mid-17th Century, and restored by Bishop John Cosin, but by 1703, the Bishop realised he had no reasonable use for it, and had allowed it to be converted into a workhouse. In 1808, the south half of the house was demolished and a proper, grim workhouse was built, with separate areas for girls, boys, females and males to sleep and exercise in. In 1870, a new, Gothic workhouse was built off Yarm Road, and so Alderman Richard Luck – who had a shop on High Row which in its day was as famous as Dressers – bought the old buildings by the Skerne. He pulled them all down, including the little chapel dedicated to St James, which was the last remaining wing of the manor house, and built a residential terrace and square.



"It is not beautiful, it is not even distinguished. It is not elegantly detailed nor of fine proportions. It is neither an exciting building nor impressive. It lacks elegance, comfort and charm" said architect Peter Elphick at the enquiry into the demolition of Cleadon Cottage. His words helped to seal the fate of the house, which was demolished in 1982. It was built by Robert Swinburne, a glass manufacturer, in 1853 and has been attributed to John Dobson. Forty years later James Kirkley carried out major works including a vast palm house. Sunderland Corporation bought it in 1918 and from 1921 to 1978 it was used as a hospital.

WHITE HOUSE, Heworth, pictured above on the right.

On a hill above Heworth, with views of the Tyne and Wear estuaries, White House was of no particular style or character, with gables and wings added haphazardly. A sundial on the south side was dated 1680. White House was a leasehold estate under the Church of Durham. In the 17th century it was owned by of the Jennisons, staunch Roman Catholics; in the late 17th century it was bought by Edward Colville, Newcastle butcher, grazier and importer, whose daughter married Lord Ossulton, later Earl of Tankerville. It passed to John Stafford of Monkwearmouth, and in 1820 Richard Carnaby Foster, his son and grandson. They had interests in farming, quarrying, shipping and coal. By 1900 the house was threatened by the encroachment of Heworth Colliery pit heap. The last occupant, to 1938, was Thomas Maltby Clague, chemist and antiquary. In 1939-45 it was used to store potatoes and turnips. In 1957 the Church Commissioners sold it to Felling Council for the Learn Lane estate; by 1960 it was derelict, and was demolished soon after.


Whitworth Hall

Stands in Whitworth Hall Country Park, near Spennymoor, County Durham England, is a country house, formerly the home of the Shafto family and now a hotel. It is a listed building.

Descendants of the Shafto family of Shafto Crag, Northumberland, served as Aldermen, Mayors and Sheriffs of Newcastle upon Tyne in the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1652 Mark Shafto, Recorder of Newcastle, purchased the manor of Whitworth. His son Robert, knighted in 1670 was Recorder from 1660 and his grandson was High Sheriff of Durham in 1709.

Two sons of Mark Shafto junior represented Durham City in Parliament: Robert Shafto 1712/3 and 1727/30 and John Shafto 1729-42. John was the father of Robert Shafto, better known as Bobby Shaftoe, who vastly increased the family fortune by his marriage in 1774 to Anne Duncombe of Duncombe Park. Their son Robert Eden Duncombe Shafto, (also Member of Parliament for Durham City and later High Sheriff in 1842), who married Catherine Eden, daughter of Sir John Eden Bt of Windlestone Hall, replaced the old manor house with a new mansion in 1845. The house was substantially destroyed by fire and all that now remains of the 1845 rebuild is the detached library wing. The present two-storey seven-bayed house dates from the rebuild of about 1900. Branches of the Shafto family had seats at Bavington Hall, Beamish Hall and Windlestone Hall.

Hunwick Hall, pictured above on the right.

Hunwick is a semi-rural village in County Durham, England. These are the remains of the medieval manor house of Hunwick. At the time of the Boldon Book, Ralph of Binchester held Hunwick of the Bishop; Hatfield's survey two centuries later shows a later Robert of Binchester similarly holding Hunwick; in 1384, Hunwick was granted to the heirs of John de Burdon, whose main lands were in nearby Helmington, and in the early fifteenth century, to the Hutton family, who held it until the 1630s, and were responsible for the older buildings that stand today; their fortunes reached their zenith under Antony (died 1602) . In the seventeenth century, it was held by the Kennets, who, being Recusants, incurred heavy fines, forcing the sale of Hunwick and other lands in 1681; throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it passed through the hands of a variety of wealthy families, but was never their prime residence.

The buildings at Hunwick are arranged around a rectangular yard. The north side of the building is a large chapel. One of the rooms of the basement has a polygonalbay projecting into the courtyard. The same room, now the kitchen, possesses a very fine early 17th century mantelpiece. The chapel occupies part of the north side of the courtyard. Additions of Jacobean date have been made at the south end of the domestic buildings, and over one of the windows are the letters 'J.H.' and an date which can no longer be seen. The initials are now no longer visible. there are other traces of earlier buildings such as doorways with Tudor arches.


Hexham War Memorial Hospital

Was the 1st and only hospital in Hexham. Every person gave 1 shilling a week to convert a house into a hospital and it was opened in 1922 as a General Hospital.In 1975 it became a hospital for old people.It has 40 beds 31 nurses 14 domestic staff. The patients are seen by their own doctors.

Now ‘Hexham General Hospital’ it caters for south-west Northumberland.There are 12 wards with 225 beds and they admit about 130 patients each week.It is the main hospital in this area for spinal injuries 250 nurses domestic staff and 30 doctors are employed here,and 7000 casualties are treated each year,as well as outpatients.The hospital was built in 1940 to nurse wounded soldiers in the 2nd world war.The biggest section is for 60 old people and the maternity unit has 44 beds.

Tunstall Manor West Hartlepool, pictured above on the right.

William Cresswell Gray was the younger son of the successful Hartlepool shipbuilder, Sir William Gray. He was born in his parent’s home, The Cottage, Greatham, on 1st May 1867. He was educated at Darlington, and later at Leys School, Cambridge, before joining his father’s shipbuilding firm. In 1891 William married Kate Casebourne, also of Greatham. They went on to have four daughters and one son. The family lived in Tunstall Manor, West Hartlepool, which William had built in 1896. The house became a local landmark and could be seen from Ward Jackson Park. The interior of Tunstall Manor was of Moorish design and apparently, along with his other properties, William Cresswell Gray, who took over the property following the death of his older brother, installed an organ. After Gray died in 1924 the demands of the inland revenue meant that the house and estate had to be sold. Tunstall Manor was later demolished to make way for the land to be developed into housing. Manor Road and Cresswell Drive were among the streets built on the land.