Cragside: a magnificent creation in the heart of Northumberland (updated 23 October 2020)

Cragside, the house built by William, 1st Baron Armstrong between 1869 and 1882, is remarkable. It was the first house in the world to be lit (and powered throughout) by hydroelectricity. Armstrong was a wealthy engineer and industrialist, eminent scientist, inventor and philanthropist.

Surrounded by moorland and farmland, Cragside stands in the heart of Northumberland near the village of Rothbury (map). It has been owned by the National Trust since 1977. It was one of the first National Trust properties that Steph and I visited after becoming members in 2011.

Cragside was a joint creation between William Armstrong, his wife Margaret (née Ramshaw), and architect Richard Norman Shaw.

Armstrong constructed a dam and lake high on the moorland above Cragside to provide the water to generate electricity. The original turbine house still stands in the grounds.

There are many magnificent treasures to view inside the house. However, I don’t have any images of Cragside’s interior. I guess in 2011 the National Trust’s policy on photography was not as liberal as it is today (as my readers will have realised from the many images I have posted about our National Trust visits). Or perhaps, there were copyright issues that did not permit photography inside the house.

What is also remarkable about Cragside is the garden that the Armstrongs carved out of the hillside, planting many trees and exotic plants obtained from all over the world. In particular there are outstanding stands of tall Wellingtonias. Of course they never lived to see their garden in its mature magnificence. Below the house, is a large and impressive rockery, and a bridge takes you across the valley bottom, and a path towards the formal garden, some distance from the house. This garden was designed on an open south-facing slope overlooking Rothbury and the farmland beyond.

Once the Covid-19 crisis has passed, and we have finally made the move north to Newcastle upon Tyne (assuming we can sell our house in Worcestershire), Steph and I look forward to re-visiting Cragside. And then, with any luck, I can add to my collection of photos with some interior images.


23 October 2020
Well, Steph and I moved to the northeast three weeks ago and, having already settled on a house to purchase (we are currently renting a small house towards the coast on the northeast side of Newcastle), we no longer have to spend time viewing prospective houses. More time for getting out and about.

So yesterday, with the weather boding fair (but with gales forecast for the next few days) we headed to Cragside and enjoy the autumn colors before the coming gales rip all the leaves from the trees.

Cragside is magnificent. The staff were doing a great job yesterday, checking everyone on to the site with our timed tickets (at 10:30 in our case), at the café for a welcome Americano, then around the house after we had toured the Rock and Formal Gardens.

We hadn’t expected the house to be open, and although fewer rooms were open yesterday than in 2011 when we first visited, National Trust policy regarding photography inside its properties has changed, and I was able to capture many of the details I was denied nine years back.

Here is a selection of garden photos, followed by some of the house interior. A full set of photos from yesterday and 2001 can be viewed here.

The rooms that were open included the billiard room, the main hall, gallery, the library, study, and the kitchen.

Then we decided to drive the six miles around the estate on the Carriage Drive. Check the settings on the video for video quality and speed (it’s possible to speed up and slow down).

4 thoughts on “Cragside: a magnificent creation in the heart of Northumberland (updated 23 October 2020)

  1. Thank you for posting about Cragside as it’s somewhere I’d like to visit once we are able to travel once again.

    Like

  2. shaunnmunn says:

    Just beautiful! Incredible photography!

    Hope you are all settled in the new home and are well in body and spirit.

    May 2021 be a complete flip-flop of 2020, and may your daughter in Minnesota be safe.

    Like

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