Belsay Hall & Castle~October 2021~ The Quarry Garden.

The Quarry Garden is a dramatic sheltered garden created out of the quarry from which the stone was extracted in the early 19th century to build the Hall, Castle and grounds. They are now in the care of English Heritage, who restored the Quarry Garden in the mid-1990s to reveal the full height of the quarry cliffs and the monumental rock faces, in line with their original 1830s concept of ‘Awesome Nature’. (That was from the blurb on English Heritage website, not quite sure people in the 1800’s were using ‘awesome’ as a word. Especially not in Northumberland where they speak a kind of English/Viking language so you only make out 1 in 3 words. Anyhoo, I digress…. )

Inspired by Sir Charles Monck’s travels, the Quarry Garden has its own microclimate which means all sorts of exotic plants grow there. Sophie and I love walking through it, there is so much to point our cameras at.

So today’s post is our walk through the Quarry Garden to get to the Castle, and we’ll have another look at it on our way back from the castle too.

in we go..
Brazilian Giant Rhubarb. You could make a lot of pies from these I think!
I think these are rhododendrons.
Not many flowery bits at this time of year, but a pop of colour here and there.
portal to the next bit.
Stairway to nowhere
corner lighting
rootling down
Tree Top.

Next time we’ll be at the Castle so stay tooned!

All pictures are embiggenable by clickerating on them.

Belsay Hall & Castle ~ October 2021 ~ part 2

We leave Belsay Hall and start off to get to the quarry, but first we’ll have a look in the formal gardens of the Hall. The temperatures were milder than usual in October and November, and so butterflies were still about, which surprised us.

small tortoiseshell and buddlea
large white
red admiral

Still some flowers budding and blooming too.

japanese anemone
sevenbark (Hydrangea aborescens L.)

and some buggy things

hoverfly
webmaster.

There’s a manicured lawn within a walled garden

walled garden

And then on out to the path that leads you on to the quarry, through gorgeous autumn colours.

Katsura japonicum.
Katsura leaves.

Next time we’ll get to the exotic quarry walk so stay tooned!

Belsay Hall & Castle~Oct 2020~ part 1

As well as doing the 365 project last year, I did manage to get out and about with Sophie, and as I’ve posted over at Fragglefilm a few from our re-visit of Belsay Hall & Castle, I thought I’d do a post with the Fuji photo’s I took the same day. We last visited in February 2019 but haven’t been in Autumn so wanted to rectify that. I’m repeating the history bit for new followers, and forgetful old followers 🤣

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 ~ a house intended as the residence of a widow, typically one near the main house on her late husband’s estate~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.

Although the castle and the manor are great to photograph, our favourite bit is the walk through the quarry that connects the two buildings. We went looking for Autumn colours and were not disappointed, and the weather was kind to us, always welcome!

Firstly though let’s have a look at the manor.

the manor
the Pillar Hall
wallpaper in the 1800s
fireplace tiles
the library
marble fireplace in library room.

It’s a fair walk from the Manor to the Castle, through the lovely landscape and a quarry walk, so next time we’ll start out and see what there is to see.

Stay tooned dear reader!

Howick Gardens ~ February 2020

Sophie and I have visited Howick Gardens a couple of times prior to this post, in October 2015 and July 2017, but there’s something different happening there all year round, and this time we went to see the snowdrops.

If you want the history of the gardens it’s in the first link there, if not, on with the pretty pictures!

Although it was quite cold, we had a clear blue sky, and the snowdrops were out in force. I had my FujiXT2 + my 16mm fujinon & my helios lens, with me and my Canon EOS 100 FN with a roll of portra 400 in it.

fuji + 16mm

It was lovely to see the snowdrops carpeting everywhere, and to hear the birds singing, and nice to be out in the fresh air.

canon
Canon ~ close up.
Fuji + helios

As we walked around the estate, we got a fab view of the Hall.

Fuji + 16mm

There is a church in the grounds

fuji + 16mm

and a chap on his hands and knees amongst the grave stones, macro-ing the snowdrops.

Canon

Such a sad grave stone in the cemetery

Ellen aged 11 mths 1901, Euphemia 4 mths 1908, David aged 8 1914.
Fuji + helios
Fuji + helios.

Just a short one today, nice to remember being out and about and not have to stop breathing when coming across other out and abouters!

Crook House & Gardens~Nov 2019~part 2

Part 1 HERE

In spite of the weather being meh, we had a wander around the gardens. Not many flowers at that time of year, but nice to see some garden features,foliage & berries.

Ivy Urn
red berries
Not sure about him!
Showing off lady
Pampas grass
Baby ENT
Weepy Elephant
Needs a good rub down
An Imp
Up to his neck in it!
In the meadow
Not in the chip shop any more.

So, a nice day out, the pictures as always are embiggenable with a click, and there are more photo’s of Crook House HERE

Stay home, stay well, stay frosty and stay tooned for our next adventure!

Crook House & Gardens~ November 2019

On a rather miserable showery day, Sophie and I went off to Framwellgate in County Durham, to visit Crook Hall. As always, I will edumacate you firstly with….

The History Bit ☕️ 🍪

Crook Hall was built around 1217 and is one of the oldest inhabited houses in Durham City. The oldest part is an open hall, built in sandstone and with a Welsh slate roof. In the 17th Century the hall was extended forming a Jacobean manor house, and in the 18th Century a large brick Georgian house was appended to the Jacobean part. A fair hotchpotch that.

Originally known as the Manor of Sydgate it was initially granted to the Archdeacon of Durham’s son Aimery, who, in 1286 passed it on to Peter del Croke, hence it’s new name, Crook Hall. (Not much difference between Croke and Crook I suppose). Peter died in 1320 when the hall passed to his son, also called Peter who died in 1343 and passed it to his son Richard. Here we are going to do a little shimmy and a side step because during Richard’s tenure, a chap called John de Coupland stayed at the hall, where he met and fell in love with Richard’s daughter Joan, whomst he later married.

John was a squire from Northumberland, and on his way to fight in the Battle of Neville’s Cross. Now, the Battle of Neville’s Cross was part of the 2nd Scottish Wars of Independence, (they still have not given up on that!) and on 17th October 1346, the Scottish King, David II brought his army of 12,000 pesky Scots half a mile to the west of Durham where they got absolutely mullered by 6-7,000 English chaps led by Lord Neville, Ralph to his pals. The Scots made their stand on a hill where stood an Anglo-Saxon stone cross, and after the battle Ralph paid to have a new one erected.

King David was badly wounded, having had two arrows to the face, and hid under a bridge over the River Browney, but his reflection in the water was noticed by a detachment of English soldiers, lead by our John, who promptly took the king prisoner. Mind you, the king knocked John’s teeth out in the process, he probably felt better for that. Edward III who was the English King at that time, ordered John to hand over King David, which he did, and was rewarded with a Knighthood and a yearly sum of £500 for life! £470,000 per year in 2020 terms, I’d give up a few teeth for that!

John continued in King Edwards service and became Constable of Roxburgh Castle and Sherriff of Roxburgshire, his other posts were Custodian of Berwick-on-Tweed from 1357-1362 with an interruption in 1362, then Escheater (someone who collects the assets of dead people who don’t have relatives) for the county of Northumberland 1354 & 1356, Sherriff of Northumberland in 1350, 1351, 1353, 1354, 1356 and had custody of David, who was imprisoned in England for 11 years, in 1351, 1352, 1353 and 1356 and Deputy Warden of East March-1359. There were gaps in his service, for unknown transgressions, but he was never publicly disgraced. After the war he had married Joan and lived at Crook House until about 1360. John was ruthless and ambitious in his aquisition of land, revenues and power in the North and made many enemies through being so inclined. In 1362 he was ambushed and killed while crossing Boldon Moor by nine lance holding chaps and eleven archers, and whilst the King had his murder investigated and found out who the perpetrators were, by then they’d scarpered over the border to Scotland and couldn’t be arrested.

So on to 1372. The Hall at this time had been owned by John de Coxhoe, the nephew of Joan De Coupland, having been given it by his dad William. A family called Billingham, descended from a man called John De Cowhird, lived at Billingham and had taken their surname from the place.  De Coxhoe granted them posession of the hall, and in they moved. Alan and Agnes were the first of a family that lived there for nearly 300 years, and passed through many generations. In 1426 Thomas Billingham was the first man to give Durham Market Place a water supply from a well on the Hall’s ground.

Then came Cuthbert Billingham who was a highly strung chap with a bad temper, often quarelling with his Mum and his sister, and he decided to cut off the water supply that Thomas had sorted, and redirected it to supply his own mill. Needless to say the fine citizens of Durham were in uproar, had him arrested and put in prison until he promised to put it back to rights! Apparently there is a ghost at the Hall, The White Lady, a neice of Cuthberts who, it is rumoured, he killed in a temper tantrum, but who knows? 🙂

The next family to take posession was the Mickletons. Christopher Mickleton (1612-1669), was attorney at law, of Mickleton, Yorkshire and had a flourishing practice in Durham. He moved into the hall in 1657 and was undersheriff and clerk of the peace. He was briefly deprived of his posts but was reinstated and became prothonotary of the Durham court of common pleas and deputy registrar of the Durham chancery court. After moving in he suffered again under the parliamentarian regime, becoming only deputy to his old post of prothonotary at the Restoration, and even that post he soon lost. However, his posts had given him access to many legal records and he began the family tradition of manuscript collecting. These manuscripts are from the later 13th century to 18th century, mostly later 17th century. Original manuscripts and transcripts relating particularly to the history of North-East England, with much of national interest, from the Middle Ages to the early 18th century. The collection includes substantial 17th century correspondence, and much material on the administration of the palatinate of Durham and the working of the palatinate courts. There are 103 volumes & 3 rolls in Latin and English, with occasional French and Greek held at Durham University Library, Archives and Special Collections. Christopher passed the hall on to his son James as a wedding gift to him and his wife Francis, and it is they who built the Jacobean part in 1671. By 1720 it was in the hands of John Mickleton who had to sell the place to pay for his debts.

The Hopper family of Shincliffe took over the building in 1736, and added the Georgian west wing. Between 1834 and 1858 they leased the property to Canon James Raine, an antiquary and topographer. He married Margaret, the daughter of Reverend Thomas Peacock, in 1828 and they had three daughters and one son; a Reverend of the same name. James Raine the son was most famous for his controversial account of the excavations of 1827 of St. Cuthbert’s Shrine in Durham Cathedral (J. Raine, St. Cuthbert: with an account of the state in which his remains were found upon the opening of his tomb in Durham Cathedral, in the year 1827  (Durham, 1828)). He was frequently visited by the romantic poet Wordsworth and his wife, and also by John Ruskin,  a leading art critic, patron, draughtsman, watercolourist and philanthropist. James Raine died at Crook Hall in 1858.

In 1859 the Hall was lived in by James Fowler, his wife Mary and their children Hannah, Anne, Elizabeth, James, John and Matthew. He originally worked for his brother James as a sales representative, but after Mary died in 1862 John began his own business as an ale and porter merchant. As well as his flourishing beer bottling service he also had an additional venture selling animal feed in the Market. He did his beer bottling in the medieval hall, after knocking a hole in the north wall so the carts could deliver beer straight to the room. He died in 1888 and the house then went to Matthew as all the other kids had left home by then.

Matthew. 🙄 Sigh. Like any typical 28 year old unmarried male with a substantial inheritance, he partied and drank himself daft, and though he did take over Dad’s business, he lost more money than he made. Took him 2 years to drink himself to death. Matthew’s older brother James returned to Crook Hall with his family, and gave up Dad’s (ruined) business and instead dealt in milk and farming with his other brother, John. James lived there until 1922, when at the age of 68, he died, and his family couldn’t maintain the business, so The Fowlers left Crook Hall.

The Hall changed hands a good few times after the Fowlers left, there were The Pereiras in 1926 who levelled part of the garden to make it a tennis court, then the Hollidays in 1930 who sold it to John Cassells and his wife who developed a lot of the gardens. Then in 1976 Colin and Suzanne Redpath came along and modernised the Georgian wing.

In 1979 major restorations were carried out when  John and Mary Hawgood bought Crook Hall, and it was brought back to it’s former glory. Ian Curry, the Consultant Architect for Durham Cathedral, along with his associate Christopher Downs, directed the restoration of the medieval and Jacobean parts of the house with the work being carried out by Brian Nelson. The main work was to the medieval hall, and windows were restored and the north wall was rebuilt. The Jacobean part was returned to it’s original arrangement, and a new staircase was built in keeping with its medieval and Jacobean surroundings, whilst a turret was constructed to allow the old wooden stairs to be exhibited as a feature. The old Coach House was also restored and converted into a self-catering holiday flat in 1985.  English Heritage donated towards the costs of the restorations.

In 1995 Keith and Maggie Bell bought the Hall and still live there today. A year later they renovated the coach house, to use as their office, and also in 2018 the Coach House Appartment to rent out as a self catering holiday let. They bought the meadow next to it in 1996 and created a maze as a central feature of the gardens, and opened it up to the public. It’s been a great success and in 2015 added a new entrance and a cafe.

You reached the end of the history lesson, well done!! You really are my favourite visitor! 😘

Now on with the pictures!

First, the Hall

Entrance to the hall

We went in the medieval part first, it was cold in there!

From the hall you can see into the Jacobean part across a corridor

It was warmer and very cosy, the original staircase is on the right.

there was real fire on the go, it smelled lovely!

there are little details everywhere,

and a view of Durham Cathedral.

one of the Georgian Dining rooms next

We went upstairs to the Attic room

it had a great view of the Cathedral and overlooked the front garden.

Also upstairs is the Minstrels Gallery which overlooks the medieval hall

On the table we found one of Mrs.Bells scrapbook diaries, lovely to see and read.

So that’s all I got in the hall, next time we’ll have a look around the gardens, so stay tooned!

refs:-

http://crookhallgardens.co.uk/history/

Blood, Sweat and Scones: Two Decades at Crook Hallhttps://books.google.co.uk/books?id=QlY1DwAAQBAJ&pg=PA187&lpg=PA187&dq=Alan+and+AGnes+Billingham&source=bl&ots=n86XXnehzt&sig=ACfU3U2fTA5pOB6sWZxfd8C_RcjxkdlnaA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi2ovWeyuXoAhWhQhUIHf1gD2AQ6AEwAXoECAoQKQ#v=onepage&q=Alan%20and%20AGnes%20Billingham&f=false

Durham University Library Special Collections Catalogue

http://reed.dur.ac.uk/xtf/view?docId=ark/32150_s1w37636792.xml#node.1.4.3.1

https://web.archive.org/web/20121009000019/http://www.crookhallgardens.co.uk/pages/history.htm

 

Wynyard Gardens – October 2019 – part 2

Part 1 HERE

On the way back through the woods, we came across a few interesting bits and bobs.

Not sure what it is, a wooden castle?
fairy tree
owl
I loved this handbag bird home
View through the woods to the hall
another owl
maybe magpie?

lots of mushrooms everywhere

We got back to the formal gardens, no roses as it was late in the year, but a few bits of autumn colour.

reds
purples
lilacs

For more pictures there’s a full album HERE

Sophie and I hoped to return here in spring and see the rose garden, but as the corona virus is taking hold in the country now as I write, I’m not sure if that will happen.

Stay tooned though, still some more adventures to do!

Wynyard Gardens ~ October 2019

Sophie and I decided to visit Wynyard Gardens even though the flower season was over, we thought we’d do a recce and return in spring if we thought it worthwhile.

The gardens are part of the Wynyard Hall estate, currently owned by Sir John Hall, a North East property developer ( and life president of Newcastle United Football Club). We only saw the hall from a distance as it is a very nice hotel now, but the gardens are open to the public all year round.

The history bit . ( Cup of tea time 🙂 )

We’ll begin by having a look at Charles William Vane, 3rd Marquess of Londonderry. He was born Charles William Stewart in 1778 and was an Irish soldier in the British army, a politician, and a nobleman. As a soldier he fought in the French Revolutionary Wars, in the suppression of the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and in the Napoleonic Wars. He was adjutant general to Sir Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington) who sacked him in spite of his valour and generally excellent soldiery, as he judged him a “sad brouillon (French for being a knob) and mischief-maker” among his staff. After Charles had finished with all the fighting stuff, his half-brother, Lord Castlereagh (the 2nd Marquess) helped him get into a diplomatic career. He went off to Berlin in 1813, then went off to be the Ambassador to Austria where Lord Castlereagh was the head honcho on behalf of the British Gov’t at the Congress of Vienna. There our Charlie proved his knobbishness with his loutish behaviour, was apparently rather often inebriated, and frequented prostitutes quite openly. He earned himself the nickname of Lord Pumpernickel after a loutish character in a play in fashion.

In 1804 Charlie had married Lady Catherine Bligh, who died in Ireland in 1812, but he found another Missis, Lady Frances Anne Vane, a rich heiress, whom he married in 1819. WTF she saw in him is beyond me but hey ho, different times folks. He changed his surname to hers, and became Charles William Vane, under Royal Licence, as her father had stipulated in his will.

In 1822, his half bro Lord Castlereigh started suffering from paranoia and mental instability, he was possibly affected by syphillis, and possibly being blackmailed for homosexuality, although that may just have been the paranoia talking, either way he wasn’t in a good place, and although friends and family were vigilant, he managed to find a small knife and cut his own throat.

This left Charles to be the 3rd Marquess, and he didn’t do himself any favours during the Irish Famine of 1840 when he and his wife gave only £30 to the local relief committee but spent £150,000 (£13.6 million as of 2020) renovating  Mount Stewart their Irish home. Also he led the opposition to the Mines & Colliery act of 1842 in the House of Lords. He is reported to have raged madly against any attempt to deny the collieries the use of child labour. Speaking on behalf of the Yorkshire Coal-Owners Association, Londonderry said “With respect to the age at which males should be admitted into mines, the members of this association have unanimously agreed to fix it at eight years… In the thin coal mines it is more especially requisite that boys, varying in age from eight to fourteen, should be employed; as the underground roads could not be made of sufficient height for taller persons without incurring an outlay so great as to render the working of such mines unprofitable”.

Once married into the Vane family, he used their immense wealth to acquire the Seaham Hall estate in County Durham with a view to developing the coalfields there. He also built the harbour at Seaham, to rival nearby Sunderland. He commissioned Benjamin Wyatt to build the Hall at Wynyard, and it started in 1822 and in 1828 was completed by Ben’s brother Philip Wyatt. Charlie spent £130,000 on it, (£11,824,000 in todays money) and just as it was completed a fire broke out and gutted it!

It was later restored and remodelled by the wonderfully named Ignatius Bonomi. The estate remained in the Londonderry family right up until 1987, though had been let out as a training school for teachers between 1945 and 1960. During this time it lost most of its original contents through sales and breakages.

1987 is when Sir John Hall bought it spending £4,000,000 to restore the house, and hiring Rupert Lord to oversee the restoration . He later moved his company headquarters, as well as his home, into the mansion. The estate, comprising the house and 780 acres of parkland, was listed for sale in July 2002 for £8,000,000. It is now a four-star hotel owned by the Hall family, continuing to occupy a small portion of land.

Garden designer, William Sawrey Gilpin created the initial gardens when the house was first built and instilled gently curved flowerbeds, raised terrace walks, irregularly shaped shrubberies and winding paths to create beautiful images within the landscape. In 1912 Lady Theresa Londonderry recreated the gardens, and kept a garden album which records in great detail the series of gardens she transformed. She created a series of ornamental gardens, including a rose garden, a lily garden, a thyme walk and a herbaceous broad walk, 270 yards long, bounded by a high yew hedge. A wild garden presented a range of shrubs, plants and bulbs in a natural setting, with grass paths, known as ‘the garden river’. 

At the turn of the 20th century, visitors flocked to the gardens, which were open to the public three days a week for a considerable part of the year however they closed shortly before the war. In 1987, as well as embarking on major restoration work in the house, Sir John Hall turned his attention to the grounds. Consultants suggested the restoration of the Walled Garden and Italianate Gardens, plans which are now coming to fruition.

refs:-https://www.wynyardhall.co.uk/the-gardens/the-history-of-the-gardens https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wynyard_Park,_County_Durham . https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Vane,_3rd_Marquess_of_Londonderry

Well done if you didn’t give up and skip to the pictures!

We decided to do the woodland walk first. It was a beautiful crisp autumn day, the sky was blue, the sun was out, our favourite time of year.

Japanese Maple

We went down the stairs to get to the woodland walk,

there are some beautiful trees along the way

We came to a little folly, and two little girls ran in to it while I was photographing it

noisy girls & folly

I do like monkey puzzle trees

king of the swingers

We came across a little bridge where you could stand and look at the river, Brierly Beck, and I liked the two eagle type statues either side of it

guardian of the Beck

a bit further on we came to what we assumed was an area for kiddies

play area

so many patches of mushrooms along the way

shrooms

it’s a circular walk and at the point of turning you get to the Hall, which Sophie and I named Riverrun.

Wynyard Hall

you can see an obelisk in the background which was put up to commemorate the Duke of Wellington when he came to visit Charles Vane and was inscribed WELLINGTON FRIEND OF LONDONDERRY, but the Duke didn’t give Charles a place in the government’s cabinet so in 1828 it was altered to ‘WELLINGTON”.

Stay tooned for the return journey and the cultivated gardens.

Cragside – Rhododendrons June 2019

It’s cold here in the UK, the summer flowers have gone and the autumn leaves blown away, so let’s take a walk through the estate at Cragside and remember warmer times.

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” Rachel Carson

 

“Plant seeds of happiness, hope, success, and love; it will all come back to you in abundance. This is the law of nature”. Steve Maraboli

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” Laura Ingalls Wilder

“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.” Ralph Waldo Emerson


“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Albert  Einstein

“Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” Hans Christian Anderson

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” Frank Lloyd Wright

“On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it.” Jules Renard

 

“Time spent amongst trees is never wasted time.” Katrina Mayer

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Lao Tsu

“The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.” George Santayana

all pictures by me and embiggenable with a click

If you want a longer walk there are more pretty pictures HERE