Newcastle Upon Tyne ~ September 2019 ~ 1

We actually had a sunny day back in September last year, and Sophie wanted to go to an open day at All Saints Church in Newcastle. So off we went on the metro, but before we get to the pictures, we must do

The History Bit.

The current All Saints Church stands on the site of a previous medieval church called All Hallows, founded between 1150 and 1190. It is the only elliptical church building in England, a Grade 1 listed building, and the third tallest religious building in Newcastle.  The original church was pulled down at the end of the 18th century after architects had reviewed the old church and found “That this decayed building cannot be repaired but at as much expense as building a new one. If one part is taken down the rest will follow. The south wall was in danger of falling by the pressure of the roof; one of the pillars of the steeple had considerably shrunk, and the steeple itself inclined to the south. The stone of the groined arches under the bells was decayed, the timber and bells in great danger of falling in, the stone in several windows decayed, the walls were rotten, and the lime had lost its cement and become almost dust”.  David Stephenson, a renowned North East architect designed the new building, and after a couple of adaptations, the new building was completed in 1796, having cost £27,000.  Unfortunately in demolishing the old church most of its old monuments, windows, and other interesting relics were not preserved; they either perished or were carried away during the operations.  

Interesting factoid (1):- During the Civil Wars (1642–1651) when the Scots captured Newcastle, they commenced, in their fanatical zeal against Popery, to deface the religious monuments. They began at ST.Johns church and destroyed the font there, as fonts tend to be the first thing you come across in a church, and on seeing this, Cuthbert Maxwell a stonemason of Newcastle, got to both All Saints, and St.Nicholas and hid both the fonts before the Scots could get to them, replacing them after The Restoration. The one in St Nicholas is still there, but when the old All Saints Church was demolished the font there was given to given to Alderman Hugh Hornby, an enthusiastic collector of antiquities. It is now housed in St.Wilfreds church in Keilder. Will be going to photograph that at some point I think.

In January 1802, a 30 yard section of the churchyard wall collapsed. Coffins and their contents fell into Silver Street. Repairs to the wall and a nearby house cost £249, 12s and 1d (just over £8000). The church went through restorations in 1881, and remained a church until 1961, when it was deconsecrated.

Interesting factoid (2):-  In July 1854, John Alderson, the Beadle of the church, was found guilty of opening graves and stealing the lead from the coffins. According to the Newcastle Guardian and Tyne Mercury, Alderson broke open “no less than five vaults”, reporting that “nine leaden coffins enclosing shells in which dead bodies were deposited had been forcibly removed”. Alderson, along with his wife and mother, faced 18 months imprisonment. His bell-ringer and accomplice, Hewison Marshall, received 12 months. Alderson became known as “Jack, the bad Beadle”. (thanks to Icy Sedgewick)

In 1983-84 it was turned into offices/auditorium as the Town Teacher initiative. Following that, it was used by the Royal Northern Sinfonia before their move to The Sage, Gateshead in 2004. The Church of Saint Willibrord with All Saints used it for a while and it has also hosted musical events. Over the winters of 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 flood damage was caused by blocked roof drains leaving the building in a state of semi-disrepair. In 2015 it was placed on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register. In 2019, the local congregation of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales signed a 150-year lease for All Saints. After a comprehensive restoration project, worship services as All Saints Presbyterian Church began in October, 2019.

When we arrived at the heritage open day in September we were, or at least Sophie was,  thinking we would see the restoration complete, and would have a tour of the whole place. But it didn’t happen that way. We got there and waited for the first group to be taken round, and then a gentleman gathered those of us waiting our turn and off we went. The outside of the building had a lot of scaffolding and fencing around it, not very photogenic so I took a picture of this couple waiting with us instead

Inappropriate shoes!!

and the young church people helping out.

Sensible shoes!

Inside we stood in the main auditorium and were talked to by one of the Presbyterian people about what they were doing. I took some pictures of the interior.

Think there’s an altar table under the cloth.
Marble floor tiles being laid.
Tantalising glimpse of the upstairs and lovely woodwork at the rear exit.
Next group being talked to.

And that was that. Had the talk, walked through the lower part and shown out the rear exit. Quite disappointing really. It must be all finished now as they started doing services the following month.


So onwards ever onwards, Sophie had spotted an interesting building roof whilst travelling on a train at some point and we went off to find it, it couldn’t be far she thought. We’ll pause here, but stay tooned for our intrepid travels through Newcastle next time.

Bamburgh Castle ~ August 2019 ~ 3

Part 1 HERE . Part 2 HERE

Onwards into the castle itself.

The Library

The Library contains literature from the mid 17th and 18th century. And a billiard table of course.

Taking in the view
And again..

Built on the site of the medieval Great Hall, the Kings Hall is a Victorian masterpiece. The magnificent false hammer beam ceiling is made with teak from Thailand.

They were playing music in the Kings Hall, and we saw the lovely French man and his wife dancing to it

French dancers (photo by Sophie)

The Cross Hall, which crosses the Kings Hall, has a vast Tudor style fireplace and intricate stone carvings representing ship building across the ages along with large tapestries and a copy of Theodore Rombout’s The Card Players.

The Dining room has a good view

and a castle always should have a suit of armour or two

So that’s the lot for this visit to Bamburgh Castle. Stay tooned for next time when we take a trip to Newcastle.

all pictures clickable to embiggen

Bamburgh Castle Revisted ~ August 2019 2019 ~1

Sophie and I last visited Bamburgh on a rainy day in June 2016, when our planned boat trip to the Farne Islands got called off due to the rotten weather, and it was the nearest place to hand. In summer this year Sophie’s chap came over from Spain and he got to choose our destination, so back we went to Bamburgh and spent a sunny day there. For readers who were not followers back then, here is the history of the castle, the rest of you can scroll down 🙂

THE HISTORY BIT, mostly from wiki with added extras

There is archaeological evidence of people living in this are from 10,000BC, along with Bronze Age (2,400 -700BC) burials nearby and bits of pottery dating to the Iron Age (700 BC – 43AD). Built on a dolerite outcrop, the location was previously home to a fort of the native Britons known as Din Guarie and may have been the capital of the British kingdom of the region from the realm’s foundation in c.420 until 547, the year of the first written reference to the castle. In that year the citadel was captured by the Anglo-Saxon ruler Ida of Bernicia (Beornice) and became Ida’s seat. It was briefly retaken by the Britons from his son Hussa during the war of 590 before being relieved later the same year.

His grandson Æðelfriþ (I mean, who thought up these names!!??) passed it on to his wife Bebba, from whom the early name Bebbanburgh was derived. The Vikings destroyed the original fortification in 993.

The Normans built a new castle on the site, which forms the core of the present one. William II (a badass old bugger) unsuccessfully besieged it in 1095 during a revolt supported by its owner, Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumbria. After Robert was captured, his wife (a bit of a girl by all accounts),continued the defence until coerced to surrender by the king’s threat to blind her husband.

Bamburgh then became the property of the reigning English monarch. Henry II probably built the keep. (The Castles own website says the keep is Norman) As an important English outpost, the castle was the target of occasional raids from the pesky Scots. During the civil wars at the end of King John’s reign, it was under the control of Philip of Oldcoates. In 1464 during the Wars of the Roses, it became the first castle in England to be defeated by artillery, at the end of a nine-month siege by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick.

The Forster family of Northumberland provided the Crown with twelve successive governors of the castle for some 400 years until the Crown granted ownership to Sir John Forster. The family retained ownership until Sir William Forster (d. 1700) was posthumously declared bankrupt, and his estates, including the castle, were sold to Lord Crew, Bishop of Durham (husband of his sister Dorothy) under an Act of Parliament to settle the debts.

The castle deteriorated but was restored by various owners during the 18th and 19th centuries. It was finally bought by the Victorian industrialist William Armstrong, who completed the restoration.

The castle still belongs to the Armstrong family, and is opened to the public. It also hosts weddings and corporate events. It has been used as a film location since the 1920s, featuring in films such as Ivanhoe (1982), El Cid (1961), Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), Elizabeth (1998) and both the 1971 and 2015 adaptions of Macbeth.

So on with the pictures.

We had a wander around the grounds this time,

The Armstrong Museum is in the modern additions to the castle.
Repelling the Vikings, or someone in a boat anyways.
Might need to get a man in..
In the foreground, archeological digs.
Bamburgh Village Fete
A very nice French gentleman who let me pet his dogs 🙂

The space in front of Monsieur is where St.Peters Chapel once stood, and the chapel bell is placed within it

in the apse, where the altar and the relics of King Oswald once were held.

The Keep is the oldest part of the castle and the walls are 11ft thick to the front and 9 ft wide elsewhere, and it sits on top of a massive plinth so attackers can’t burrow under it. Safe as houses in that!

Stay tooned for next time when we’ll visit the museums in the castle.


Staindrop and St.Mary’s Church – August 2019

After Sophie and I had finished photographing the butterflies at Raby Castle, we decided to go and have lunch in the nearby village of Staindrop, and visit the church there. Staindrops earliest history begins in Neolithic times, though there is little left to see of that as the current village is built on top of it. Nearby roads and settlements bear evidence of it’s expansion in Roman times.

The History Bit

It is known that the first church in Staindrop was a saxon building made around 771 when Alhred was the King of Northumberland, but not much else is known about it as the recorded history starts in the early 11th century when King Canute (yes the guy who commanded the tide to go back out) had a manor in Staindrop. This and the church he gave to the newly founded priory at Durham . This early church was very small, and Canute had it enlarged by adding a tower and extending the nave.

For the next 100 years the church was yoyo’d between the Bishop and the Monastery of Durham, as both wanted to control the wealth and lands of the area. Then in 1131 the Manor and lands were granted to Dolfin the son of Uchtred (descended from the old Earls of Northumberland and Kings of Alba). Dolfin became Lord Raby which suggested that the manor at Staindrop was being supplanted by one at Raby, which ultimately became Raby Castle.

Dolfins son Maldred took over when Dad died, and he enlarged the church by adding long narrow aisles to each side of the nave, this entailed removing the outer walls.  When Maldred died his son Robert married the wealthy Norman heiress Isabelle Neville, and their son Geoffrey took on the Neville name.

The History of the Nevilles at Raby has been covered in my posts on Raby Castle Here & Here so I’ll leave it up to you if you want to find out more.

The church benefitted nicely from the expanded wealth brought by the Nevilles.  From 1250 – 1260 major renovations went on, rebuilding and heightening of the tower, and adding transepts and a high pitched roof and lancet windows. The aisles were extended westward and a double tiered vestry built with an upper room serving as a hermit’s cell.  (John de Cameva is recorded as hermit of Staindrop in 1336).

In 1343 Ralph the 2nd Baron Neville (he of the battle of Nevilles Cross – see above links) was granted a license to build three chapels in the church,  which entailed the South aisle and transept being taken down and rebuilt with Ashlar stonework. The grant shows that the church was originally dedicated to St.Gregory, but after the reformation, St.Mary became more popular. As well as the chapels, a little vestry was built to serve these and the south porch created.  This area provided the burial space for his mother and later Neville Ladies.

The effigy of Euphemia de Clavering can be found here under an elaborate canopy in the South Wall.

Not sure why I cut off her head, but at least I got the doggies 😀
The head end 🙂

In 1849, when restoration work was going on the figure of Isabella Neville was found, and now her effigy lies next to that of Euphemia (cracking name that!).

Lady Isabelle and a Neville child, not sure who.

In 1408, Ralph’s grandson, also Ralph (here we go again, see links if confused 🙂 ) got a licence to establish a college at Staindrop.  It was sited on the North side of the Churchyard where the mausoleum now stands.


And due to the kudos that having a college brought, Ralph was able to erect the chancel choir pews (with misericords), whilst retaining the 14th Century screen.

This meant making a lot of alterations to the roof and also raising the height and changing the dimensions of the tower by the addition of a new chamber.

This made the building appear oddly out of balance, with a single transept on the north and the oversized aisle on the South. so sometime in the 15th Century the North wall was taken down and moved Northward.


At the east end of the chancel is a sedilia (a group of stone seats for clergy in the south chancel wall of a church, usually three in number and often canopied and decorated.)


In this next picture you can see a little window high up in the wall on the left, this is the hermits window, where he could look down on the church service and not be observed. So sneaky these hermits.

The chancel with wooden altar, and hermit window high on the left wall.

The reformation came, in the 1500’s and as the Nevilles fortunes waned, the church lost its benefactors. The college was dissolved, the church fell into disrepair and it’s buildings and furnishings were plundered.

But then in 1626 Sir Henry Vane came to the rescue! An important member of the Royal Household, Charles 1st sold Raby Castle to him and granted his petitioned to become lay Rector of Staindrop.  Henry and his descendants saved the church,. The altar which was destroyed in the reformation was replaced with a wooden table which you can just about see in the picture above and the ancient fabric of the church was retained by making the necessary repairs.

In the early 1900’s the chancel got a new floor made of local Frosterly marble and new panelling around the sanctuary incorporating the reredos. 

The tombs of the church were also moved to their current locations at this time. In the South West corner will be found the large alabaster tomb of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmoreland who died in 1425, and his two wives – Margaret Stafford, daughter of Hugh, Earl of Stafford, and Joan Beaufort, daughter of John of Gaunt and half sister of Henry IV.

Their daughter Cecily known as the Rose of Raby married Richard Duke of York and was the mother of Edward IV and Richard III and from whom every British monarch is descended.

Alongside there is an oak tomb which is that of Henry Neville who died in 1564, and his two wives, Anne, daughter of the Earl of Rutland, and Jane, daughter of Sir Richard Chalmondeley.  The children of the marriage are carved in niches around the tomb.

His son Charles helped lead the Rising of the North for which he was attainted and the lands taken by the crown.

Between them is an older stone Effigy to Margery 2nd wife of Ralph Lord Neville c1343. The tomb slab is mounted on 4 Lions.

In the North West corner the tombs are memorials to the Vane family.  The central effigy is that of William Harry Vane, 1st Duke of Cleveland.

It was such a surprise to come across all these effigies and tombs in this ordinary looking church. I also noticed a weird thing sticking high up on a wall in the chancel, above the sedilia

I asked a lady who was there arranging the flowers for Sunday, and she told me it was a crusaders helmet, and they had rested at the church and one left his behind. So they mounted it high up as it’s possibly quite valuable and they don’t want it stolen.  The church and it’s contents are not alluded to in Raby Castle, and the flower lady said they were a bit miffed that the castle doesn’t promote them, they have to go cap in hand to English Heritage to get any repairs done, and there’s a fair bit needs doing. It would be nice if the people at the castle let visitors know that this little church held so much of interest, and the visitors could then donate! We did, of course.

All pictures by me and embiggenable with a click.
A few more pictures of the interior and graveyard HERE


Embleton Church ~ April 2019

After Sophie and I had our walk on Embleton Beach we decided to have a look around Embleton Church.

Embleton Church Tower

Known as the Church of the Holy Trinity, the oldest part of it is the lowest level of the tower, and is the only identifiable bit from the 12th century, and it has two blocked Norman windows. At this point in time the church would have had a Nave without aisles and a chancel only. The aisles were added around 1200. The upper levels of the tower were added in the 14th century. At the top is an open battlement, which is unusual for northern churches.

As you enter through the South Porch which dates from the 15th century, there are some old tomb slabs set into the walls.

The shears to the left of the cross indicate a woman’s burial.

There is also a lovely green man carved boss carved into the ceiling of the porch.

The church has undergone many restorations, especially in the 1800’s. In 1803 the mediaeval chancel was replaced by a plain classical one with a flat ceiling. You can see in the picture below an outline of a blocked window which would have looked out over the chancel roof. The last time the chancel was replaced in 1887 the axis of the chancel was, and remains, inclined.  No-one seems to know why, but apparently it wasn’t uncommon.

Looking toward the chancel.
looking toward the Nave

At the back of the church is an ornate spiral staircase for the bellringers to climb up into the tower.

Stairway to heaven.

There are some lovely stained glass windows made by Charles Eamer Kempe, a famous glass designer and manufacturer in the 1800’s.

South Aisle- in memory of the Forsters, 1856. (not sure who they were but one was a doctor).

The Craster family (no not the incestuous bad guy wildling in G.O.T you know, where Gilly came from) are an ancient family in Northumberland, and you might have seen my previous post on the village of Craster which was owned by the family. The church has a Craster Porch at the north-east end of the north aisle with the Craster arms and memorial slabs.

Shafto Craster Craster. Best. Name. Ever 🙂

We had a look around the graveyard, it had a gorgeous blossom tree,

In 1870 a number of coins were discovered in the churchyard at Embleton. The coins are known as groats. The groat is the traditional name of a long-defunct English and Irish silver coin worth four pence, and also a Scottish coin which was originally worth fourpence, with later issues being valued at eightpence and one shilling. They were minted between the reigns of Edward II and Edward IV, the earliest coin dating to about 1351 and the latest about 1464. I can’t find which museum they are in, but Merton College Oxford have been the patrons of Embleton church since 1274, so it’s conceivable that they have them somewhere, but that’s pure conjecture on my part. Also wondering why M.C Oxford would be a patron of this church, but can’t find anything on it as yet.

So that’s it for Embleton!

full album can be viewed HERE

Next time we’re starting a day out on a riverside walk at Allen Banks, a hidden Norman church, and the convergence of the Rivers Tyne.

Stay Tooned!

refs :– Leaflet from Embleton Church,,_Embleton


Cleadon – March 2019

After Sophie and I had finished looking around Souter Lighthouse we decided to go and have a look around Cleadon Village, but before we do lets have a quick look at the Lime Kilns just across the road from the Lighthouse.

These mahousive kilns were built in the 1870’s. Limestone from the quarry and coal from the colliery were fed into the top of the kilns and heated to produce lime for use in agriculture and in the steel & chemical industries. The lime was loaded onto railway wagons known as the Marsden Rattler, and transported to the docks at South Shields. They are a scheduled monument now.

So off to Cleadon then!

Cleadon is a village on the outskirts of South Shields, and it’s where all the posh people live 🙂 . There’s been a village there for over a thousand years and it has a village pond that is a remnant of an ice age lake and dates to Roman times (as do most things!) so we went to see it.

Cleadon Ice Age Duck pond.
Ice Age Daffodils 🙂

We also wanted to see Cleadon Grotto (just because there are no other grotto’s we know of 🙂 ) and went off to Cleadon Park where we thought it was.  Except we wandered around the huge park for ages and couldn’t find it.

But the park was nice to walk in, here are a few shots of it

Crawler Tree
Bread Tree

I’d told Phil we were going to Cleadon and he said to look out for a huge rock in the park.

Phils Rock

Sophie resorted to Lord Google and found out we were in the wrong park to see the grotto 🙄🤭 so back in the car and finally found it.

An 18th century garden ornament that originally overlooked a formal pond in the grounds of Cleadon House. There isn’t a house there now, nor a pond.

And here it is..

Grotty Grotto.

Not very enthralling I admit, but still a little slice of history.

Stay tooned for next time when we’re off to Embleton Bay.




St Cuthberts Church ~ March 2019

The History bit

The Domesday Book, is a manuscript record of the “Great Survey” of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William the Conqueror. Both Ormesby Hall, and St Cuthbert’s church, are mentioned in this record and listed as belonging to ‘Orme’, to whose name the suffix ‘by’ (the Viking word for habitation or dwelling place) was added to make Ormesby.  There has been then, a church on this site for at least 933 years, maybe more. Unfortunately the church as it stands today has been largely rebuilt between 1875 and 1907 to designs in the Decorated Style (gothic) by architects W. S. & W.L. Hicks. What was interesting to Sophie and me was that they incorporated the Anglo-Saxon foundations, carved work and re-dressed masonry from the 12th-century church into the building.

Of course we can’t possibly be steeped in North East ancient history without St. Cuthbert getting in on the act (hence the amount of St.Cuthbert churches up here), and according to the church’s own web site ‘It is said that St Cuthbert’s body rested here during the movement of his body about Northumbria in the 9th Century.’ St Cuthbert sure got around a lot after he died in 687!

You can read my history of St Cuthbert’s post-death journey here.

On with the pictures now.

The tower and spire, housing the ring of 8 bells, was only completed in 1907.

There are some elaborate crosses in the church yard, decorated in a medieval style.

A path runs through the churchyard and the bottom entrance has an oak lych gate.

We came across a chap digging a hole, so I asked if he was digging a grave, but he was just doing upkeep of the grounds, and planting things.

There I was, diggin’ an ‘ole… anyone remember Bernard Cribbins? 🙂
Mr.Digger’s dog.

Mister Digger was very nice and chatted on to us about the church yard. We were quite excited when he told us there was an Anglo-Saxon grave in the grounds, and we asked to see it.

? Anglo-Saxon grave

He explained that they’ve allowed it to get overgrown, and keep it that way, as some people are not averse to sticking their hands through cracks in the stonework to steal bones. 🙄 The headstone is top right in this picture. So a bit disappointing we couldn’t make much of it out.

There were of course less old but still old graves,

Sarah, died aged 23 on 6th September 1793
possibly Bess, died 1734
?Damars/Damats/Damaris  Smith died November 1710

I’ve tried researching the name Damars or Damarts, which is what it looks like to me, but think it’s actually meant to be Damaris, which is a girls name  used here in the 1700’s, and is still in use in the USA.  It is the name of a woman mentioned in a single verse in Acts of the Apostles (17:34) as one of those present when Paul of Tarsus preached in Athens in front of the Athenian Areopagus in c. AD 55. Together with Dionysius the Areopagite she embraced the Christian faith following Paul’s speech. I think biblical names were a thing back then.

Philip, son of Philip & Jane Snowdon, who departed life in the 3rd year of his age.On the 1st October 1767

I’ll finish up with some pictures of the 12th century stones incorporated into the rebuilt church.

There were several christenings going on in the church so we didn’t intrude, but would have loved to see what they had on the inside!

all picture are embiggenable with a click.

Full album can be found here.



Ormesby Hall – March 2019 -Part 2


This week we are going to have a wander around the house. Sophie and I thought it was a bit like a tardis, as it seemed to have far more rooms than the outside appearance would have you think.

You can see examples of  bold Palladian plasterwork and the more delicate neo-classical plasterwork ceilings in the drawing and dining rooms.

Firstly the padded doorway.  This was installed by James Stovin Pennyman (1830-96) to help prevent the sounds of conversation disturbing the household  – he worked in York Lunatic Asylum so it’s possibly where he got that idea from.

Lt-Colonel Alfred Worsley Pennyman KOSB (1883-1914) by Frank Watson Wood (Berwick-upon-Tweed 1862 – Strathyre 1953)
Sir James Pennyman Bt (1736 – 1808) by Sir Joshua Reynolds PRA (Plympton 1723 – London 1792)
drawing room

Lots of ceramics on display in the dining room

and a nice view of one of the formal gardens

upstairs is also quite ornate with the plasterwork everywhere

and every bedroom has a four poster

Loved this corner cupboard from the Netherlands circa 1770 – 1800

More art on the walls


Still Life with a Parrot, Fruit and Dead Birds  by Jakob Bogdani (Eperjes (now Presov), Hungary c.1660 – Finchley 1724) 

because who wouldn’t want a parrot and dead birds on the wall??

Beatrix Jane Frances Walker was born on 23 December 1873.1 She was the daughter of Sir James Robert Walker, 2nd Bt. and Louisa Susan Marlborough Heron-Maxwell.2 She married Reverend William Geoffrey Pennyman on 18 February 1901. She died on 17 July 1959 at age 85.1 From 18 February 1901, her married name became Pennyman.
Sir Thomas Pennyman, 2nd Bt (1642 – 1708) Sir Peter Lely (Soest 1618 – London 1680)

Ruth Pennyman lived here and in this room, till her end.

and clearly liked her nylon stockings

Them wer’t days.

Enough for this week, and I’ll be back next Thursday with a bit more from the hall.

Stay tooned 🙂

Ormesby Hall & St.Cuthberts Church March 2019 – part 1

Ormesby Hall is one of the National Trusts smaller properties. Barely a Stately Home, more of an historic house really, but Sophie and I don’t mind small, and the place was surprisingly interesting.

Shall we commence with the history bit? (Rhetoric question, gotta be done 🙂 )

*Long post alert ~ get the kettle on*

The History Bit

The Estate of Ormesby has been around since before the Norman conquest, and possibly takes its name from Orme who was a tenant thereabouts registered in the Domesday Book.  The Hall has a long history with the Pennyman family and was acquired back in the days of yore, by James Pennyman in 1599, when he bought the whole estate and the village of Ormesby too.  James was the nephew of Robert Pennyman who had been hanged in York in 1569 for his part in the rebellion against Henry VIII known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. The Hall we see today didn’t exist when James bought it, just a large farmhouse, which James adapted and was later enlarged by his son.

We’re skipping forward now to 1722 when the next James Pennyman (there were many James Pennymans in the family!) married the daughter of the Archbishop of York, Dorothy, and came to live at Ormesby Hall. Dot was not enamored of the place and decided to have a new mansion built next door to the Old Hall. She employed the best architects, craftsmen, and artists in the region, and the Hall is now known for being one of the best examples of Palladian architecture in the north. The old hall became the service wing for the new, and the servants had to carry food and laundry outside from one to the other come rain or shine.  Dorothy sadly died in the year the house was completed in 1754, her hubby James having already shuffled off the mortal coil in 1743.

They hadn’t had any kids, so the house stood empty for the next 16 years until the advent of ‘Wicked’ Sir James, the 6th Baronet of Ormesby.  The Baronetcy had been conferred on another James back in 1664 by Charles II and continued through the family. By the time Wicked James got to Ormesby, the Pennymans had garnered a lot of land, estates, and money, owning several properties and estates in the North East. Although Wicked James refurbished the house and built the stables for his racehorses, he was fond of spending money on politics, – he was MP for Scarborough 1770-1774 and for Beverley 1774-1796, and gambling, and consequently squandered the family fortune. He ended up selling most of the house lands and furnishings to pay off his gambling debts and moved out of the house to live in Richmond.  He had married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Henry Grey and had 10 children, 6 of whom were males, but only one of the boys survived, William Henry Pennyman who became the 7th and last Baronet, as he had no children. He lived frugally, so the house stayed in the family, but after he died a distant relative, James White Worsley had to change his name to Pennyman in order to inherit. James W managed to buy back several items of furniture for the Hall. He also leased land for housing associated with the new town of Middlesbrough, to make the estate a more viable proposition. Along with his son, another James, they made the final alterations to the Hall,  adding the front porch, the Dining Room extension and the corridors connecting the service wing and main building.

Nothing much more interesting happened until we get to first World War when the house was lived in by Mary Pennyman. She had married into the family, and her husband, guess what his name was!! (clue- begins with J) was a machine gunner in the war who was listed as missing in action, and Mary was the secretary of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers Widows and Orphans Fund and was just 26 years old when she began writing to the wives and mothers of men who were missing or killed during the First World War. 120 of the letters she got in return from the ladies she wrote to were recently found stashed away in the hall, by three National Trust volunteers, and there is now a project ongoing to digitalise the letters and track down the families of the women who wrote them. The letters are so poignant, and you can visit the website at

James, or Jim as he was known, had been severely wounded in the war, but made a full recovery,and returned home to Mary. She got pregnant but died in childbirth, along with the child in 1924. Jims Dad also died a few months later, so Jim wasn’t in a happy place at all. But in 1926 he met and married Ruth Knight and they were very happy together inspite of him being a right winger, and she a dyed in the wool lefty. In the 1930’s unemployment in the area was at 90%, and Jim and Ruth along with other local landowners created land schemes and a way for miners to learn new skills. Jim rented land in Cleveland, and gave it to the miners to grow crops and raise livestock. He also started workshops to train the miners in carpentry and formed Boosbeck Industries for the miners, and rented a showroom in North Ormesby to sell the furniture they made. He provided everything for them and made a personal financial loss in doing so. Ruth meanwhile paid for sewing and knitting workshops for the miners wives. She  promoted the arts in the area and set up local drama groups, making Ormesby known for its theatrical productions. 

In the second World War Jim commanded a battalion of the National Defence Corps as Lieutenant Colonel, giving him the title Colonel James Pennyman, as he is now known. Jim and Ruth were the last of the Pennymans, as he and Ruth never had any children, and when Jim died in 1961 he bequeathed Ormesby Hall and gardens to the National Trust.  Ruth contined to live there until. her death in 1983.

On with the pictures! Today we’ll have a walk around the grounds.

Ormesby Hall

Would love to see this wisteria in bloom!






Stable block

There wasn’t much in bloom when we went, but thing were springing up

and we found bits of colour here and there

Grape Hyacinths

Not sure what this will turn out to be..

Tree of Life

So that’s it for this time, next week we’ll visit inside the house so stay tooned!


All picture by moi, and embiggenable with a click!