Seaton Delaval Hall

Restoration 2

Welcome inside Seaton Delaval Hall

Welcome inside Seaton Delaval Hall

Early this year I first shared Northumberland’s Seaton Delaval Hall with you.  At that time it was wholely encased in scaffolding and a woeful sight.  I breathed a huge sigh of delighted relief to find it standing proud and unencumbered on my return this Summer.

Last week we had a wander in the beautiful gardens and I promised a look inside.  I didn’t know then the theme of this week’s Thursday’s Special.  My sun beaming in is as close as I get to the ‘gold inside’, but I hope you will join me anyway.

Let’s take a look.  So much has been accomplished!


And then we step inside.  The height of the hall is no longer a surprise to me but, looking up, I’m happy to see the Muses restored to their lofty niches.  Sunlight illuminates the silent figures.



Solemn, and missing a limb or two

The conservation team have done an amazing job.  The 30 foot high Central Hall was gutted by fire and left open to the elements for many years.  Even in its fragile state there was a grace and a majesty to the building.  The team have lifted and relaid the tiled marble floor, and the stucco statues have been strengthened, repaired and returned to their original niches.

The six statues represent the muses of sculpture, painting, architecture, astronomy, geography and music.  Apparently they were made in situ, from an iron framework covered in tile, brick and plaster to produce a mannequin.  Muslin beneath layers of stucco plaster created a very realistic appearance.  Conservation enthusiasts might enjoy the Hall’s blog.

Mounting the West Staircase, I look out at the gardens

Mounting the West Staircase, I look out at the gardens

And down the stairwell

And down the elliptical stairwell

Up close and personal with the muses

Finding myself up close and personal with the muses

It seems that the Hall was always graceful and beautiful

It seems that the Hall was always graceful and beautiful

Beautiful again!

As it is again, today!

It was a glorious day and I strolled the gardens, and then was about to head for the tea rooms when I spied an open door, off the courtyard.  I hadn’t noticed it before and curiosity impelled me inside.  Be prepared for some serious treasure.  I wasn’t!


Click on a photo to view in more detail

The Fairfax Jewel

The Fairfax Jewel

The treasures never end!

The treasures never end!

The Delavals were great collectors and the evidence is everywhere.  A complete treasure trove! Much of the history of the Hall is on my previous post, and you will find additional details (including how to get there) on this National Trust link to Seaton Delaval Hall.

I thoroughly enjoyed my return visit and hope that you did too.  If you ask nicely you can have oozy cream on your hot chocolate fudge cake in the tea rooms.  Very nice!  Now I need to take you to Paula’s place for her interpretation of the gold inside.  It’s beautiful- of course!


Seaton Delaval Hall gardens

On Monday many of you joined me for a walk at Seaton Sluice, on the Northumberland coast. There I discovered a wonderful piece of shoreline, but my real purpose that day was to make a return visit to Seaton Delaval Hall.

It was August last year, on a cool, turning to dampish day, that I first saw these gardens.  I knew then that I’d be back.  As luck would have it, I was just in time to rescue the water lilies from the mischievous fingers of a small boy.  Caught in the act!

The frog needed to take a tougher stance

The frog needed to take a tougher stance

Water and small boys.  Inevitable temptation!  But let’s wander elsewhere.  There are plenty of temptations in this garden, and even a small nursery where you might find a little something to add to your collection.  The house and gardens are owned by the National Trust, and the bank of volunteer gardeners are highly enthusiastic about their subject.  Gardener Chris Brock keeps a blog which enthusiasts among you might like.

The Hall is a lovely backdrop to the Rose Garden

The Hall is a lovely backdrop to the Rose Garden

The roses date back to the 1950s

With roses dating back to the 1950s

There are roses a-plenty!

This is my ‘best in show’

The borders thickly weave their spell, in subtle but beautiful swathes of colour.  Here and there, an unapologetic ‘show off’ plant.  If you’ve got it…

Much more than a flounce!

Flaunt it!

You might remember that the ‘Gay Delavals’ liked a little flaunting.  They were fond of masquerade balls and staged their own theatrical productions.  An invitation to one of their parties might have included anything from rope dancers to a sack race in these beautiful gardens. I browsed a little…  sniffing here, sniffing there.

Here's another Bobby Dazzler, as my Mam would say

Here’s another Bobby Dazzler, as my Mam would say

The gardens were designed by Sir John Vanbrugh and include everything from French formal design to the landscape style of Capability Brown.  The National Trust is working hard to make these gardens a success, and throughout the summer there are 15- minute Table Top talks from the gardeners and guided walks through the grounds.  You can even join a Teddy Bears Picnic, if you’ve a mind.  Full details of events are on the website.

A rose bower, anyone?

A rose bower, anyone?

The house is ever present

And the ever present house

I hope you’ve enjoyed my garden tour, and if you’re ever in the area you make an effort to see Seaton Delaval Hall for yourself.  Next Thursday I will be taking you inside the house on a follow up to Restoration.  I’ll say goodbye for now with a nod from the poppies.

Just a little more flamboyance

Just a little more flamboyance

Jo’s Monday walk : Seaton Sluice

The harbour at Seaton Sluice

The harbour at Seaton Sluice

Seaton Sluice isn’t the most inviting place name I ever came across.  Yet I knew from a previous expedition to nearby Seaton Delaval Hall that it provides an interesting gateway to the sea.  A bright and free day took me back up the north east coast to explore.

Seaton Burn flows into the North Sea midway between Whitley Bay and Blyth.  Place names are interesting, aren’t they?  Seaton Sluice was once part of the village of Hartley, and was called Hartley Pans because of the salt pans, where salt was panned as far back as 1236. The area once belonged to Tynemouth Priory, but in 1100 the land became the property of Hubert de Laval, nephew by marriage to William the Conqueror.  The Delavals, as they became known, settled about half a mile inland at Seaton Delaval Hall.  Seaton derives from Old English and means a settlement (‘ton’) by the sea.  Let’s go look around, and I’ll explain a little more.

The approach to the sea

The approach to the sea

At low tide, the area fails to look its best, but there was excitement to come.  First, a little more history.  Up until 1550, the salt produced at Hartley Pans was transported to Blyth for export. After this it was shipped directly from the small natural harbour, and the village, now known as Hartley Haven, was used to export coal as well as salt.

The little harbour was prone to silting and this limited access by ships, but in the 1600s Sir Ralph Delaval had a pier constructed, and sluice gates which trapped the seawater at high tide.  Hence the name, Seaton Sluice.  At low tide, the gates were opened, flushing the sand from the harbour.

The harbour remained like this until the 1760s when another Delaval, Sir John, had ‘The Cut’ blasted through solid rock to make a new harbour entrance.  54ft deep, 30ft wide and 900ft long, the result created an island of the land between the old entrance and the new channel. Enterprising men these Delavals.   The new channel could be sealed off at both ends so that boats could carry on loading, irrespective of the tide.  For me, the excitement begins when the channel meets the sea.

This sight had me skipping with excitement!

This sight had me skipping with excitement!

How beautiful is this?

How beautiful is this?

I’m on the southern edge of Northumberland here, and if you know anything at all about Northumberland you’ll know it has magnificent beaches.  In the distance you can see Blyth and an offshore wind farm.  Next year there will be a Tall Ships Race too.

I'm happy just to gaze

I’m happy just to gaze

Salt continued to be exported from Seaton Sluice until the advent of a new salt tax in 1798.  It was replaced by a new export, glass bottles.  In 1763 Sir Francis Delaval obtained approval from Parliament to develop a glassworks.  Skilled men were brought from Germany to train the locals in glass making, using the materials to hand- sand and kelp from the sea, and local coal and clay. The bottles were sent to London on ‘bottle sloops’, with a main mast that could be lowered to enable sailing beneath the arches of old London Bridge.

Hard, now, to believe that such industry once took place.  Competition from other glassmakers brought the bottle trade to an end, and a major disaster at Hartley pit, in which 204 men and boys perished, spelled the end of the coal trade.

Crossing Seaton Sluice Bridge we can look back at the harbour

Crossing Seaton Sluice Bridge we can look back at the harbour

My adventure with the sea isn’t quite over yet though.  Following the other side of the channel I come to a narrow cut.  Looking south along the coast I am thrilled to find that in the far distance I can see St. Mary’s Lighthouse at Whitley Bay.  You might remember my post.

Can you see it, across the bay?

Can you see it, across the bay?

Quite a way off

Quite a way off

It's a wonderful coastline!

It’s such a wonderful coastline!

I follow the coastal path back into the village.  Looking down at the rocks I’m astounded to find a heron, nonchalantly checking out the seafood.  I do hope he approves.

I returned to Seaton Delaval Hall that afternoon.  Very nice chocolate fudge cake!  I’ll share my visit when Paula returns from her holiday, but we might look at the garden before then.

Meantime I should thank Wikipedia for all their information, and you for sharing it with me.

walking logo

Kettle’s on and I just have time to tell you that I have lots more wonderful walks to share this week before it boils.  Details of how to join in are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  A click on the logo should do it.  Thanks to all of you, old friends and new.  Bring on the walks!


Violet Sky was first to share this week, with such a good-looking lighthouse, too!

Cabot Head

And Anabel is going for broke- 3 for the price of 1!!!

Cairnpapple Hill

Exotic Wats and stupas all the way from Thailand, with Junk Boat Travels :

Wat Yai Chai Mongkol

And Jesh has me wanting a goat’s life in Zion National Park!

Utah’s Colours

Quite a few wild orchids down Eastbourne way.  Cheers, Geoff!

Eastbourne to Birling Gap and back

Can’t you almost feel the rain dripping down your neck with Ruth?

A walk in the rainforest

Jude is taking me to unknown parts of Cornwall this week.  Please bring a walking pole for safety!

Down the Cot Valley

Drake is dallying by the water (in his element).  A peaceful and idyllic place to be :

Out of Town 

Keeping an eye out for bears seems a good idea when you’re in the woods!  Please say ‘hi’ to Woman’s Eye View :

Humbled again

Gilly has a lovely new look!  Have you seen it yet?

Strolling the garden in the wood

And a beautiful garden sequel.  Don’t miss it!  Even the title is beautiful!

Falling for a silver pear at Knightshayes

Pauline’s gone all modern and high rise on us.  Come and look (if you’ve a head for heights)!

On top of the world

And take a peak at what’s in store for the future :

Browsing in Brunswick Heads

That’s it for another week!  Hope you can join me next Monday.  In the meantime you could do worse than pop in to Monday Escapes.  Happy walking!