Allen Banks – May 2019

Allen Banks and Staward Gorge is the largest area of ancient semi-natural woodland in Northumberland, and back in May Sophie and I decided to do a walk there along the river Allen, looking for bluebells again! Now owned by the National Trust it was originally part of the estate of Ridley Hall.  In the 1800’s the Hall was bought by Mr John Davidson of Otterburn for his wife Susan Hussey Elizabeth Jessup, granddaughter of the 9th Earl of Strathmore.  Susan  laid out 65 flower beds in the formal gardens and organised the system of paths, rustic bridges and summerhouses, not…

Embleton Church ~ April 2019

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

Embleton Bay ~ April 2019

Sophie and I are both members of English Heritage and the National Trust (saves a heap of money as we visit so many of their places) and so we receive emails from both advising us of events and so forth. Consequently we were quite excited to get an email from NT exhorting us to visit Embleton Bay and see the bluebells that festoon the dunes there. Wow, we thought, bluebells next to the sea, how cool, lets go! So off we went on a sunny spring day to shoot the flowers. To get to the bay you drive past the…

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…

Souter Lighthouse ~ March 2019

The History Bit On the coast near the village of Marsden on the outskirts of South Shields, stands the rather magnificent looking Souter Lighthouse. This lighthouse was the first in the world to be designed and built specifically to use AC (alternating electric current) and was the most technically advanced lighthouse of its day. Opening in 1871 it was described as ‘without doubt one of the most powerful lights in the world’.  Originally planned to be built on Souter Point, from where it gets its name, it ended up being built on Lizard Point which had higher cliffs and therefore better…

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…

Ormesby Hall ~ March 2019 ~ Part 3

See here for history and part 2 Most of the Stately Homes we visit have well-appointed kitchens which I duly photograph, and Ormesby Hall is no exception. But it’s much of a muchness and we’ve seen similar in previous posts. What was unusual at Ormesby was a fully kitted out laundry, so that’s what we’ll look at today. There’s no need for me to explain anything as that was done brilliantly by the info sheets in there.   Love that they call it WEE BEN, 🙂 so that was a nice surprise for Sophie and me as laundries are usually not…

Ormesby Hall – March 2019 -Part 2

PART 1 HISTORY HERE 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…

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…