Washington Old Hall is a hidden gem in the North East. History seeps from every…
The North East has a rich industrial heritage and used to be an area where mining was common place. Near the coast, you will find Seaton Delaval, a old pit village that used to have a thriving and busy coal field. At one point 3091 men worked there and a community built up around the mine. These days that community has gone but Seaton Delaval still holds a surprise. As you leave the village and drive towards the sea the road suddenly turns into a tree lined avenue and you view the splendour of Seaton Delaval Hall. With two large wings encompassing a large courtyard and an enormous central building, it is palatial to behold. It is a masterpiece designed by Sir John Vanbrugh, the architect behind Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard. Until recently Seaton Delaval had fallen into disrepair but the National Trust have been working to restore the building. If you watch Tales of Northumberland you will have seen Robson Green helping the stone masons with their work.
I have recently been to Wallington Hall which is an interesting National Trust place near Morpeth. I have never visited Seaton Delaval Hall so we went to see what we could discover. The house has a rich and turbulent history. The land was originally given to the Delaval family by William the Conqueror for their loyality. The family became wealthy, espeically when coal was discovered under their land. During Georgian times, the house gained a reputation for being the place to party. The family were known as the Gay Delavals and were famed for playing pranks on their visitors. The family were also greatly involved in the industry in the area and the nearby town of Seaton Suice was originally their own private port. Seaton Delaval Hall was badly damaged by fire in 1822 and was used as a prisoner of war camp during the second world war. The house also has a ghost, the white lady. She is the ghost of a girl who fell in love with one of the Delaval heirs but when marriage was forbidden died of a broken heart.
Entering Seaton Delaval Hall
Seaton Delaval Hall is approached from the side, the car park is gravelled and it is a short walk up to the hall. On the walk up to the hall you pass woodland areas which can also be explored. There are plenty of surprises both inside and outside the hall.
In the garden outside the hall are a number of statues of sheep.
These were popular with the children who loved to sit on them. Each of the sheep are slightly different and are meant to represent the different members of the Delaval family. They are certainly unusual. To get into the hall itself you need to go though walled path into the courtyard.
It is only when you are in the courtyard that you get an idea of the vast size of the hall and how it dominated the surrounding countryside.
Walking up the steps you gain entry into Seaton Delaval Hall. Even though the building is not completely restored from the moment you enter the main hallway you get a sense of the splendour the building must have had in its hay day. The black and white tiled floor surrounded by impressive sculptures and fireplaces dominates. Looking up you can see the beams crossing the ceiling giving an imposing feel to the place.
Spiral stairways allow you to go up to the next floor when you can look down and see the hall in all its glory. You can enter small rooms which tell you more about the history of the hall and which give you an idea how how it must have looked when it was furnished. Here and there you can see where the restoration work is continuing.
There are secrets behind every nook and cranny, going though a small doorway downstairs we discovered replicas of the ladies Georgian costumes. It must have taken ages to get dressed in these and those skirts would have made getting though small doors very awkward.
As you wander around inside you get tantalising glimpses of the gardens outside and we knew we had to go out and explore.
First we went down the spiral stairs and found the cellars and servants quarters. The floor is a bit uneven but it is really interesting to see the wine cellar and other rooms at the bottom of the house.
The gardens at Seaton Delaval Hall
The gardens at Seaton Delaval Hall perfectly complement the home. There are impressive views across the countryside, gorgeous lawns, stunning statues and fountains. A rose garden is set inside hedges which looks like a maze. It is tempting to walk though the hedges and see if you can find a way though.
A three hundred year old ash rests on the lawn, it’s branches propped up as though it is too weary to hold them. It must be an impressive sight when its leaves are grown.
We passed fountains, statues and secret gates. It is a lovely garden to wander though and to sit and relax for a while.
We really enjoyed our visit to Seaton Delaval Hall and there is still plenty more to discover. We didn’t visit the Stables, the Norman church on the grounds or go for a walk in the woodland surrounding the hall. We will have to go back another day.
Seaton Delaval Hall is a National Trust property and members get entry for free. If you are not a member it costs £6.00 for adults and £3.00 for children. Family entry is £15.00. You can easily spend a fair amount of time here wandering around.
Other Gorgeous National Trust Gardens in the North East
The Chelsea Flower show is on at the moment and I created a lovely recipe using edible flowers to mark the occasion. If you love flowers you don’t need to make a trip to the Chelsea flower show to enjoy them, we have a wide range of gorgeous National Trust gardens in the North East. Many of these are just starting to come into bloom and with the bank holiday coming up why not pay them a visit.
Best hidden garden – Wallington Hall
Discover the walled garden at Wallington Hall, concealed behind Neptunes gate. A flood of plants are coming into bloom now and don’t miss the Edwardian conservatory which conceals an array of beautiful plants.
Best for Spring colour – Cragside, Rothbury
As well as an interesting historical house, on my must visit list for this year, Cragside boosts more than 100 varieties of Rhododendrons which will be starting to fill the garden with colour. Wander around Cragside’s forty miles of paths to enjoy them or take a leisurely stroll in the formal garden and find other plants as well.
Best for Spectacular Views – Souter Lighthouse and The Leas, Whitburn
I went past Souter Lighthouse when we went to watch the Sunderland air show from the sea. There are spectacular views along the coast and Souter has recently a new wildlife garden which includes ponds, berry bearing shrubs, trees, wildflowers, a bog and hibernation areas, all set against the dramatic backdrop of the towering cliffs and sea.
Best for Nature – Allen Banks and Staward Gorge, Bardon Mill
Allen Banks and Statward Gorge is one of the largest areas of ancient semi-natural woodland in Northumberland which offers one of the best places to see an impressive array of flora, fauna and fungi all in one place. At the moment the woods are carpeted with bluebells and wild garlic. I imagine it is a great place to get lost in for the day.
There are many more, why not have a look on the National Trust website and see where you can visit.