Sutton Scarsdale Hall, Yorkshire

Back of Hall
Back of Hall
English Heritage
The house stands at the edge of the small village of Sutton Scarsdale, on top of a hill.
The present house, the fourth to stand on the site was built in 1724-29. It contains elements of the earlier houses. In 1919 the house was sold off and bought for architectural salvage, being stripped of all moveable parts including the roof. Some room interiors ended up in America and were used as movie sets.
Before 1919 the house, as shown in surviving photographs, had impressive interiors and plasterwork. Today it is a sad-looking ruin in need of stabilisation. None of the internal walls retain plaster other than a few fragments of fine moulded plasterwork in the principal rooms.
No trace of the gardens remains.
A church stands a few feet from the house. Apparently the church is still in use.

Visiting – you can park behind the house after driving down a lane. There is no charge, but when I visited the house was surrounded by Heras fencing and there was aluminium scaffolding inside the walls, restricting views.

Nostell Priory & Parkland, Yorkshire.

Nostell east front National Trust
Nostell Priory was built in the 18th century on the site of an earlier house. Nothing of the medieval priory now remains. The house has a symmetrical plan with a colonaded extension to one side. The kitchen block is set back and connected by a link corridor. Entry is into the lower hall, dimly lit and filled with dark furniture. The formal rooms are all on the floor above.
Outside, a large stable block houses the usual visitor facilities. Passing through the stable block you can access the rose garden and the former walled garden, and the lakeside walks. The lakes are beautiful. Note that the paths do not allow a complete circuit of either of the lakes. In front of the house is extensive parkland.

Visiting – there is a £3 parking charge for non members of the National Trust. There are entrance charges for the house and rear gardens. There is no charge for entry to the parkland or stable block.

Stable block
Stable block

Upper lake
Upper lake
North end with extension scar
North end with extension scar
Lower lake
Lower lake
Rose Garden
Rose Garden
Stairwell
Stairwell
Top Hall
Top Hall
Crimson Room
Crimson Room
State Bedroom
State Bedroom

Lindisfarne/Holy Island, Northumberland.

Village street, Holy I
Village street, Holy I
The full name of the place is, apparently, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.
The low-lying tidal island lies just off the coast of Northumberland, and is connected to the mainland by a causeway that is flooded by the tide twice a day.
The island is most famous for its priory, founded during the dark ages and abandoned during the dissolution of the monasteries. St Aidan, St. Cuthbert and the Lindisfarne Gospels are associated with the Priory.
There is also a castle (National Trust) on a rock forming the highest point of the island. It was built after the dissolution of the priory. After becoming disused as a fort, it was converted into a holiday home in the 1900’s by the architect Edward Lutyens for magazine owner Edward Hudson. The castle is interesting and worth a visit. If you have time, walk out to the Gertrude Jekyll castle garden, and the nearby lime-kilns.
The ruined priory (English Heritage) is in the village and can be visited (chargeable). Entrance into the churchyard is free, and it is worth looking inside the adjoining church. Among other things, it contains a striking wooden sculpture of six monks carrying a coffin.
There was another fort next to the harbour, but only a few fragments of wall now remain.

Visiting – there are boat cruises to the island, or you can drive there. Beware the tides, which restrict when you can come and go. Be aware also that the police and coastguard take a dim view of people who ignore the warnings and get themselves trapped on the causeway by the incoming tide. There is a village on the island, with the usual amenities.

Castle entrance hall
Castle entrance hall
Boat Room
Boat Room
Cattle from garden
Castle
Gertrude Jekyll garden
Gertrude Jekyll garden
Priory ruins
Priory ruins
Priory ruins
Priory ruins
Priory ruins map
Priory ruins map

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

Castle and curtain wall Privately owned
Alnwick Castle is a large and imposing castle with a curtain wall and central keep, and adjacent to it are impressive gardens which have recently been reworked at great expense.
The original castle was founded by the Normans and has been extended and altered several times, the last two phases of alteration giving it Gothic interiors (designed by Robert Adam) succeeded by opulent Italianate interiors which replace Adam’s work in the State Rooms open to the public.
The castle has a complex history of sieges and occupations, and since 1309 has been in the hands of the powerful Percy family, and the Earls and Dukes of Northumberland.
The outer parts of the castle contain several towers with small exhibitions which are all worth a look. The keep contains the State Rooms which should not be missed. The carved and gilded wood ceilings are exceptional and the furnishings are luxurious. Don’t miss the pair of fine pietra dura cabinets, adorned with pictures worked in stone and supported on animal legs. Their value is unknown, but unless you are a Russian oligarch you could not afford them.
If you are into period china, don’t miss the China Gallery, a long narrow gallery at the exit side of the state rooms, lined with hundreds of fine pieces.
The castle conforms to the popular idea of what a castle ought to look like, and has been even more popular since its use as a location for some of the ‘Harry Potter’ movies.

The Gardens are a separate attraction, established fairly recently at the eye-watering cost of £42 million. They do boast an expensive-looking computerised cascade, a pleasant walled garden with flowers, an interesting Poison Garden, as well as nine stainless steel fountains which produce curious effects with water. There are also arbors, round pools with fountains, tea rooms, and a maze. I found the Poison Garden tour of particular interest.

Visiting – there are separate prices for the Gardens and Castle, and combined tickets. Prices are high, but one inside you probably will not be disappointed. HHA members may get into the Castle free while English Heritage members get a discount (Castle only). If viewing both, allow time for at least a half-day visit.
Click on images to enlarge. Photography inside castle was not permitted.

Fountain pools in garden
Fountain pools
in Walled Garden
in Walled Garden
Cascade in action
Cascade in action
plant in Poison Garden
in Poison Garden
Castle keep
Keep

Brodsworth Hall & Gardens, Yorkshire

Hall from driveway English Heritage
Brodsworth Hall was built for Charles Thellusson in the 1860’s, and the gardens were laid out at the same time. An existing house on the estate was demolished. The house has a symmetrical plan with a lower servants’ wing projecting to form a T-shape.
Internally, the house has an impressive Italianate hall and reception rooms. The family and guest bedrooms are comfortably furnished while the servants’ wing is much plainer. The house and its contents have not been radically changed since it was built. Instead, the house suffered a decline in the 20th century as the family became less able to maintain it, and it was given to English Heritage in 1990. By this time the house had suffered from rising and descending damp and general neglect. English Heritage’s policy has been to carry out urgent repairs and conserve the house as found rather than ‘restoring’ it. Almost all the rooms are accessible to visitors.

The gardens, very overgrown in 1990, have been cleared of overgrowth and restored to more or less the Victorian plan. They contain formal areas, rockeries, lawns, trees and other features and are well worth a visit.
When I visited, parts of the interior were covered up while another round of conservation was in progress.

West Hall
West Hall
Drawing Room
Drawing Room
Bedroom 14 (pink)
Bedroom 14
Guest Bedroom & boat bed
Guest Bedroom
Old Kitchen, range
Old Kitchen
Gardens
View from summerhouse
gardens
gardens

Cragside, Northumberland

Cragside view from South
National Trust
Cragside was bought by the Victorian industrialist and arms manufacturer Willian George Armstrong, and the house was greatly extended between 1863-1884. Externally, the house is a jumble of English baronial styles, with mullioned windows, battlements, decorated barge boards, shouldered gables, tall decorated chimneys, steep roofs, and mock timber-framing, and has an irregular outline. Inside it has a number of unusual features incorporating Armstrong’s ideas, often very advanced for the time, including a water-powered spit turning mechanism, electric lighting from a hydro-generator on the estate, a hydraulic powered lift and a sauna suite. There are several rooms with elaborate Victorian interiors. The large drawing room, finished in a Classical Renaissance style, has a vast chimney piece, elaborately carved in marble. A long gallery is lined with pictures and other objects.

From the house, there are spectacular views over the woodland below. A rockery garden plunges down to a stream and an arched metal bridge. Out in the estate there are several of Armstrong’s installations to visit, and 40 miles of footpaths to explore. You can walk to the pair of lakes above the house and back in an hour or so, but the signposting on the paths is vague and the climb is steep.
The exhibition centre & tea rooms are next to the lake visible from the entrance. The formal gardens are 1/4 mile from the house, or from the main car park. The’re quite pretty but could be skipped if you are short of time.
A ‘hopper’ minibus provides free transport around the above-mentioned ‘near’ parts of the estate for those who have difficulty in walking. You can drive your car around a 6-mile one-way circuit to access the ‘far’ parts of the estate. Cragside is a clear candidate for an ‘all day visit’.
Visited 2012 and 2016.

Library interior
Library
View near House
View near house
View of Iron Bridge and house
Iron Bridge and house
Library bay window
Library
Dining Room stained glass
Dining Room glass
Kitchen
Kitchen
Morning Room
Morning Room
Drawing Room
Drawing Room
Roofs from path above
From above
small lake in woods
Slipper Lake
Nelly's Moss North Lake
North lake

Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral is the most prominent of the buildings in the old centre of Durham – a peninsula of high ground surrounded on three sides by the looping River Wear. Also here are Durham Castle, various buildings associated with the cathedral, and streets lined with old stone buildings.
The Cathedral impresses on several counts – its size – one of the biggest medieval buildings in England – its age – most of the construction is Norman – and the scale of its interior. Pillars and round arches are carved with distinctive Norman sawtooth patterns. There are three towers, two at the East end and one in the middle. (If you are ever confused about which end of a church is East, North, etc, remember that that most are laid out so that when you look towards the altar you are facing towards Jerusalem.)
When built (to house the relics and shrine of St Cuthbert), the cathedral was part of a monastery, and many of the typical monastic components either survive (like the cloisters) or their remains are incorporated in buildings serving later functions.

Durham old buildings
old buildings
Durham Castle keep
Castle keep

Wallington, Northumberland

Wallington South & West frontsNational Trust.
The 18th century house stands in extensive grounds, and the south front can be seen from a mile away on the approach route. Behind the house (north side) is a green surrounded by stable blocks etc.

Inside the house, one you leave the entrance hall, the preferred route is to turn right and go around the ground floor in an anti-clockwise direction, finishing with the south front rooms (Library, Drawing Room and Dining Room). Then go upstairs. Alternatively, you could go upstairs first. Noteworthy items in the house are the fine collection of Chinese porcelain, the pre-Raphaelite murals in the central hall, and the plasterwork in the south-facing ground floor rooms. Pictures, furniture, porcelain figures and a collection of dolls’ houses may also be of interest.

Outside, the Walled garden (half a mile from the house) is said to be well worth a visit. Unfortunately I was unable to see it because of lack of time. A full visit to house and grounds could take several hours.

Dining Room view
Dining Room
Central Hall with murals
Central Hall

Seaton Delaval Hall, Northumberland

Main and east wing
National Trust:
The house is impressively composed, with a central block and two wings. At a glance, it looks complete, but the central block is a fire-gutted shell which was burnt out in 1822. It has been re-roofed and re-windowed to keep out the elements. It was originally built in 1719-30. The architect was John Vanbrugh, who also designed Castle Howard and Blenheim Palace. The survival of the shell is a testament to the strength of its construction.
The east and west wings formerly contained stables and the kitchens. The kitchen block has since been converted to residential accommodation. Note the two stone spiral staircases in the central block, and the two rooms not gutted by fire. In the grounds are formal gardens and a small Norman church.

Formal gardens
Formal gardens
Fire damaged interior
Fire damaged interior

Grassington, Yarnbury mining area, W. Yorks

The former mining landscape near Grassington makes an interesting area for a walk. Take the road north-eastwards from Grassington High Street towards Yarnbury. If you are in a car, just keep going till you run out of tarmac road. There’s plenty of room to park at the end, so don’t worry.
Around here is Yarnbury House, which was the mine agent’s house and office. Head along the track in the direction of the chimney, which can be seen in the distance to the east. Look out for noticeboards describing relics of interest. The track passes an area dotted with shallow shafts, and other relics including a post-war reprocessing plant. As you approach the chimney and leave the track, you should encounter the long horizontal flues running from the smelter sites up to the chimney. The structure of the flues can be seen in places where they have collapsed.

You should take with you a map that identifies the various relics, so that you can check out any that are on your line of walk. The tracks continue southwards to Hebden Moor mines and Hebden village. If you go far enough to the north-east, you will reach Mossdale (use a map). If you don’t want to retrace your steps, satellite pictures indicate that taking a left at a crossroads near Coalgrovebeck Dam will loop you back to Yarnbury, passing 3 more disused mines.