Three days, three houses . . .

During our trip to the northeast a couple of weeks ago, we visited three National Trust properties over three days. They all had one feature in common: until quite recently they were still occupied by their owners.

In Northumberland, the two houses were: Seaton Delaval Hall, just north of Whitley Bay, about a mile inland from the North Sea Coast (map); and Wallington House and Gardens (map), home to generations of the Blackett and Trevelyan families for generations, about 25 miles northwest of Newcastle. In North Yorkshire, just south of Helmsley in the North York Moors lies Nunnington Hall (map), which we visited on the journey home.

Seaton Delaval Hall
This impressive property was designed in 1718 by Sir John Vanbrugh (who also designed Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard) for the Delaval family who had occupied estates in the area since the time of the Norman Conquest in the 11th century. It comprises a Central Hall and West and East Wings (which houses the large stables). The Central Hall was destroyed in a fire in 1822, although a number of features did survive. The West Wing (and the extensive cellars) originally housed the servants, but in the 20th century became the residence of the owner. Some restoration has taken place, and the Parterre Garden was designed in the 1950s. Although Seaton Delaval will never again reach its former glory, its outward appearance speaks volumes for what it must have been like.

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Wallington House and Gardens
The hall dates from the 17th century, but had extensive modifications in the Palladian style in the 18th. Two aspects particularly impressed me: it definitely had the feel of a family home; and the walled garden, about 15 minutes walk away from the house, in among the woods, is perhaps one of the nicest gardens I have visited. The entrance hall has bright murals showing many different aspects of the history of Northumbria, and the house is full of beautiful treasures. Wallington is definitely worth a visit for so many reasons.

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Nunnington Hall
Alongside the River Rye, parts of the house date from the Tudor period, but over the centuries it was remodeled. There are signs of its occupation by Parliamentary forces during the English Civil Wars of the 1640s. The gardens are not extensive, but quite attractive.

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An apo in the Northeast

A couple of weeks ago our daughter Philippa asked us if we could babysit grandson (= ‘apo’, Tagalog for grandchild) Elvis Dexter for a couple of nights while she and Andi attended a wedding. They live in Newcastle upon Tyne in the northeast of England, 225 miles north of where we live.

I can’t deny that Steph and I were a little apprehensive. It’s one thing babysitting while parents are out for the evening. It’s quite another being left completely responsible for a small child. After all, we haven’t had that sort of practice for more than 30 years.

We needn’t have concerned ourselves. Young Elvis was a delight to look after. Having been introduced to his nursery ‘teachers’ on the Monday afternoon, we went along with Philippa when Elvis attended nursery early on the following morning. It was then up to us to collect him in the afternoon, give him his evening meal, bath-time, play, stories and bed.

Once down for the night (around 19:30) we didn’t hear a peep out of him. In fact, on the second morning, I had to wake him up to get ready to head off to nursery!

As you can see from the slideshow, he also enjoyed himself.

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It will be interesting to see how he reacts when his baby brother/sister comes along in about five to six weeks time.