Belsay Castle & Quarry Walk – Feb 2019

Our next outing is up in Northumberland, Belsay Castle and the Quarry Walk.

The History Bit

Back in days of yore, the first fortification at Belsay was an Iron Age hillfort, set on a hilly spur known as Bantam Hill.  Not a lot of info on that as no records exist of how big it was, or how long it was occupied, but in 1270 Richard de Middleton, Lord Chancellor to King Henry III had a Manor built there. The Manor stayed in the Middleton family until 1317 when Gilbert de Middleton owned it. At this point in history, Robert The Bruce was on the rampage, and having won a great victory at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 was raiding into England with impunity. Gilbert raised himself a private army to counter the threat of The Bruce, but stupid Gilbert went a bit OTT and ended up raiding  Yorkshire and extorting money from the Bishop of Durham.  It didn’t take long until he was captured, hung, drawn and quartered, and his Manor confiscated. The Belsay estate was passed around a few people but ended up back in the Middleton clan in 1390, when John Middleton extended the manor and built the castle which is still there today. In 1614 the castle was modified by Thomas Middleton who added a Jacobean range on the west side, probably replacing the old manor. A further wing was added round about 1711, and a walled garden in front of the castle. In 1795 the castle passed into the hands of 6th Baronet Sir Charles Miles Lambert Monck who actually had the surname of Middleton but changed his name to that of his maternal grandfather Laurence Monck of Caenby Hall, Lincolnshire who died in 1798, in order to inherit his estate. Because you can never have enough halls and castles. Charlie had traveled to Greece for his honeymoon and became much enamored of Hellenic architecture, so with the help of John Dobson, the North’s most famous architect, he built a  new manor in the grounds of the castle in the Greek Revival style. He and his family moved into the new building in 1817 and just abandoned the castle. Of course, that fell into disrepair and by 1843 parts of the structure were ruinous.

Luckily Sir Arthur Middleton took it on in 1872 and the 1711 wing was demolished and the manorial house was partially rebuilt so it could be used as a dower house whilst the tower itself was restored in 1897. During the 2nd World War, the military used the castle which led to further deterioration, and by 1945 when the Middleton family got it back, they lacked the funds to sort it out. By 1986 Sir Stephen Middleton owned the estate, but moved into a smaller house nearby, leaving the two properties empty. Both of these were transferred into State ownership in 1980 and the site is now in the care of English Heritage.

In the morning Sophie and I had been to see the Crocus field at Wallington, so after lunch, we decided to do the Quarry walk at Belsay. We walked through the Walled garden to get to it.

there wasn’t much going on in it, no spring flowers as yet.

Way out to the quarry

At least there were snowdrops along the way

snowdrops

It was a lovely blue sky day

and the sun shone low through the trees

Walking through the quarry is amazing

So many colours in the rocks

and I was fascinated by how the roots from the trees above split the rocks on their way to finding some ground and therefore nutrients.

 

when we came out of the quarry we saw the castle ahead.

 

I love that they keep the windows painted red!

Before the floor fell

The rear view of the castle shows how spectacular it must have been

You can still climb the stairs to the top, which I’ve done in the past, but not this time.

I like how the gardener lets you know what’s going on

Once we’d walked around the castle, we went back through the quarry, so here are a couple more shots of what we saw, and that’s the end of this day out!

all pictures are embiggenable with a click,

full album can be found HERE

refs:
https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/belsay-hall-castle-and-gardens/
http://www.castlesfortsbattles.co.uk/north_east/belsay_castle.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belsay

46 Comments

  1. Amazing those old estates! We visited a few castles, abbeys and cathedrals when we were in the UK last year, looking forward to our next visit!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers Steve, we are certainly spoiled for choice here!

      Like

  2. I love that unusual old quarry. As for the castle, I could definitely live in that, with a few mod-cons installed. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha yes it would need a do over! Cheers Pete 😘

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ahhh…i’d live in such boredom without your posts about the wonderful castles of yor. Such history you have to point a camera at. I especially enjoyed your pictures of the deep rock walled quarry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s an amazing place to walk through, cheers Nman x

      Like

  4. Just love walking with you Fraggs . Still doing my own 365, busy packing and throwing out , and storing away ,haven’t had a closing yet, maybe this week . Ttys

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheer Kathy. Packing for holiday?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, not yet, packing for the move

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ooh exciting it’s all going through then!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yep, closing should b next week

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Anonymous

    What a lovely place to walk! The gardens are lovely, and that tree root – how old is that tree? How long did it take to grow? So interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, it looked like it had been there a very long long time!

      Like

  6. I always enjoy these old places you take us to, Fraggle!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. 😊😊

        Liked by 1 person

  7. A great history lesson and lovely photography! Can’t get any better than that. Fantastic post, Fraggle!😍📷🌟

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Book’em 😘🥰

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome, Waffles!😍

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Love your visits 😘😘

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yay! I love visiting.😍 You have an amazing blog and you are an amazing lady!💖

            Liked by 1 person

          2. You too hunny 🥰

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Awww!💖 Thanks darlin.😘

            Liked by 1 person

  8. I like the last tree photo and the red window. 👍

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I couldn’t believe the tree with the roots forcing that stone apart- wow!
    This looks like an amazing place to visit, thanks for sharing your experience there 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There were quite a few like it, just amazing! Thanks for visiting 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Who’d have thought a quarry could be so pretty? I love the photo of the trees reflected in the water.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks April. Both Belsay and Cragside up here were built from the stones in their quarries and then the quarries landscaped, each very differently, I’ll be doing the Cragside one at some point which is huge in comparison.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Gorgeous images. I especially loves tree roots you capture – snaking down the crevice towards ground. Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Keith, I think they are amazing!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Finally got a chance to really look at your photos. Wow!!! What wonderful captures. Makes me want to visit for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Beautiful 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup! Thanks Joshi 😊

      Like

  14. I am ever amazed about all this beautiful estates you visit. Yet another gorgeous place. Beautifully captured.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Otto, yes I’m spoiled for places to visit here!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Never heard of Belsay Castle before. Thanks for the info and the great pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Orca Flotta

    You sure this is the UK? I mean with the bamboo n other tropical plants in the quarry garden?
    😮

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tropical plants have hidden depths! Thanks for visiting Orca 😊

      Like

  17. What a gorgeous estate, especially the quarry. Super shots.

    Liked by 1 person

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