Belsay, in England’s border area was occupied by the Middleton family for almost 600 years. In the grounds are three buildings: a medieval castle, a Jacobean manor house, and a Georgian hall.
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The castle, including a pele tower, dates from the 14th century and served as a border tower house. On the first floor remnants of medieval wall paintings can be seen. The manor house, added to the castle in 1614, was not fortified due to the more peaceful situation at the time.
Belsay Hall (devoid now of furnishings) itself was built by Sir Charles Monck in the 19th century. He saw classical European buildings while on his honeymoon and had the Greek revival designs copied for Belsay Hall. The central two-storey Pillar Hall, begun in 1807, is of honey coloured stone and has a large open space with an upper gallery, both of which have pillars, friezes, and woodwork. Family bedrooms with original 18th century floral wallpaper are on display.
The 30 acres of Grade I gardens are placed in parkland. They consist of a rhododendron garden, yew garden, magnolia terrace, mature woodland, and a winter garden.
The highlight of the garden areas is the quarry garden containing exotic plants (added by Sir Charles Monck’s grandson) and evergreens. The quarry was created when stone was removed to build Belsay Hall.
Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens
Belsay village, Northumberland; near Ponteland, 14 mines north-west of Newcastle on A696 to Jedburgh
Tel. 0 1661 881 636
Open: April-end Sep, daily, 10am-6pm; Oct and Nov, daily, 10am-5pm; Nov-March, weekends only, 10am-4pm (check English Trust website for specific variations during this time period); closed 24-26 Dec and 1 Jan
English Heritage property; plants for sale during the summer; exhibition about Belsay; high sheriff’s coach; video on Northumberland castles; Victorian tea-room; shop; picnic area; parking
Garden photos © by Barbara Ballard
Photos of Belsay Hall and Castle interior by David Dixon courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland