Sophie and I had a lovely autumnal outing to Wallington Hall back in October, chilly, but with blue skies and autumn leaves and colours everywhere. Of course the hall has a history, so that’s up first.
The History Bit
Wallington is a country house and gardens located about 12 miles west of Morpeth, Northumberland, England, near the village of Cambo. It has been owned by the National Trust since 1942 after it was donated complete with the estate and farms by Sir Charles Philips Trevelyan, the first donation of its kind. It is a Grade I listed building.
The estate was originally owned by the Fenwick family back in 1475. The Fenwick Baronetcy, of Fenwick in the County of Northumberland, was a title in the Baronetage of England. It was created on 9 June 1628 for Sir John Fenwick, of Wallington Hall, Northumberland. He sat as Member of Parliament for Northumberland and Cockermouth. The second and third Baronets also represented Northumberland in Parliament. The title became extinct when the third Baronet was executed for treason on 27 January 1697. The third Baronet, also a Sir John, was a Jacobite conspirator. I’m not going into Jacobitism here as it’s a very diverse and quite complicated political movement but basically a whole bunch of Brits aimed to restore the House of Stuart to the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland. You can google it for further info. Back to Sir John. He had succeeded his father to become an MP, and also later got to be a Major General in the army in 1688. He was a strong supporter of King James 2nd, the last Roman Catholic King of England, who was deposed in what was called the Glorious Revolution in 1688, and succeeded by William 3rd, or William of Orange, as he was known, a staunch Protestant. Our Sir John remained in England when William came to the throne, but had money troubles which led him to sell Wallington Hall to the Blackett family. Then Sir John decided to plot against William, insulted Williams Missis, Queen Mary, and was involved in a couple of assassination attempts on William. Eventually he was nabbed, and was beheaded in London on 28 January 1697.
So on to the Blacketts. Also given a Baronetcy, they were a wealthy Newcastle family of mine owners and shipping magnates. They shared the Fenwick’s love of parties and Jacobite sympathies, but the Blacketts managed to avoid both financial ruin and treasonable activities. Sir William Blackett (1657-1705) bought Wallington in 1688 as a country retreat from the family’s main home at Anderson place in Newcastle, and knocked down the medieval house and pele tower that the Fenwicks had built, though he converted the ground floor into cellars, which still remain. The new building was quite basic, it consisted of four ranges built around an open central courtyard. The upper floor was reached by ladders and had no internal dividing walls. It wasn’t meant to be a permanent home, but a residence for when the family wanted to have shooting parties for their poshknob pals.
The Fenwicks had also been known for their parties and hospitality, and the Blacketts followed the tradition. Sir William’s son took it to excess and employed six men simply to carry him and his drunken guests to bed after their grand parties. Upon his death he left debts of £77,000 and an illegitimate daughter, Elizabeth Ord. Wallington passed to his nephew Walter Calverley on condition that Walter married Elizabeth and adopted the family name. Walter agreed to this and in 1728 Wallington passed to the 21-year-old Sir Walter Calverley Blackett (1707-77). Surprisingly, and fortunately Sir Walter proved a better household manager than his uncle had.
He had the house completely remodeled, adding staircases and partitioning the upper floor into rooms. The gardens and grounds were extensively redesigned with the introduction of pleasure grounds, the planting of many trees, and the digging of watercourses and ponds. Sir Walter also built the clock tower which dominates Wallington’s courtyard. Amongst the many figures involved in the recreation of Wallington was Capability Brown who may have contributed to the work in the East and West Woods and was certainly responsible for designing the pleasure grounds at Rothley Lake. Sir Walter’s children died before him, so Wallington passed to his sister’s son: Sir John Trevelyan.
The Trevelyans were Baronets as well, and Wallington stayed in their family until 1942. The family includes authors, artists, MP’s and their history is far too long for a little blog post, but also quite fascinating. Sir Charles, the 3rd Baronet was the last to live there. He was first a Liberal and later a Labour MP. He served under H. H. Asquith as Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education between 1908 and 1914, when, as an opponent of British entry into the First World War, he resigned from the government. In 1914, also, he founded the Union of Democratic Control an all-party organisation rallying opposition to the war. In the 1918 general election, he lost his Elland seat, running as an Independent Labour candidate, but won Newcastle Central for Labour in 1922 and held it until 1931. In early 1939, following Stafford Cripps and with Aneurin Bevan among others, Trevelyan was briefly expelled from the Labour Party for persisting with support for a “popular front” (involving co-operation with the Liberal Party and Communist Party) against the National Government. He was the last surviving member of the first British Labour cabinet.
He had 6 kids, the eldest being Sir George, the 4th Baronet. He was effectively disinherited when his Dad gave Wallington to the National Trust.
In 1925, George went to read history at Trinity College, Cambridge, in accordance with family tradition. Whilst there he began his 42-year-long association with the famous ‘Trevelyan Man Hunt’, an extraordinary annual event which involved a chase on foot over the wild Lakeland fells, with human ‘hunters’ hunting after human ‘hares’. This energetic event was started in 1898 by Trevelyan’s historian uncle G. M. Trevelyan and the Wynthrop Youngs, and still continues today, as a kind of hide and seek game without dogs or weapons. He also became an educational pioneer and a founding father of the New Age Movement.
Not sure why Dad didn’t pass on the Hall to George, perhaps George was just too busy to look after the place, another fascinating chap.
That’s the history bit done, I’ve cherry-picked just to give some context to the pictures, but so much fascinating stuff that I’ve had to leave out! Never mind, google is your friend! 🙂
So on with the pictures!
Because the evenings were drawing in, Sophie and I decided to do the grounds first and the house after lunch. It was lovely walking through the woodland and by the lake.
The Japanese Maples were gorgeous
We walked to the walled garden and huge glass house that are in the grounds.
there were only a few flowers left, grasping at the last piece of sunshine they were likely to have.
but plenty of berries
There has to be a lichen shot of the day..
and it was good to find a coffee hut hidden amongst the woodland.
Also in the grounds, a giant compost-loo. I immediately thought of Eddy my living-off-the-grid guru pal and took a picture for his opinion.
I think that’s enough for now, as always, there are still more pictures to see, and next time we’ll have a wander into the glass house for some exotic blooms.
All pictures are clickable and embiggenable if your eyes are bad 🤣
Stay tooned goodly folk.