Thursday, 11 October 2012

Gibside Estate

The Ruins of Gibside Hall
In my last blog post about the community garden at Whickham I mentioned that the former coal mines there had once been owned by the wealthy Bowes family who had their family home at Gibside Hall. Well last Sunday Paul and I decided to take advantage of the lovely autumn sunshine and join our son Matthew in a country walk and what better place to do this than Gibside in the Derwent Valley. The estate is now owned by the National Trust and although the Hall itself is now in ruins there are still some lovely buildings including the chapel which was built as a mausoleum by the architect James Paine.
Gibside's Palladian style Chapel
Interior of the chapel showing the dome
The lady inside was lovely and gave us a potted history of the Bowes family which was just as exciting as plot from a soap opera today. In the 18th century a wealthy landowner called George Bowes owned the Gibside estate and in 1760, when he died, his daughter Mary Eleanor inherited it making her one of the richest women in Europe at that time. She later married John Lyon, 9th Earl of Strathmore & Kinghorne, from Glamis Castle in Scotland and they became known as the Bowes-Lyon family (from whom the late Queen Mother was a descendant).
Part of the Bowes-Lyon family tree
After the death of John, Mary Eleanor married Andrew Robinson Stoney and this was a disastrous union. Stoney, a fortune hunter, virtually imprisoned her and squandered their money but she did eventually divorce him and he spent the rest of his life in prison for debt.
The 10th Earl, her son John Bowes, fell in love with his housekeeper and together they had a son, also called John,. In order for him to inherit his father married the boy's mother the day before he died. This was not well received by the rest of the family who fought to have the title removed from him but they were unable to prevent him inheriting his father's fortune.

Bowes Museum
The son later did the Grand Tour and, while in Paris, fell in love with Josephine, an actress,and married her. On returning to England they built a home in the French style at Barnard Castle which is now Bowes Museum.
So as you see the family was not without drama and intrigue!
The "Long Walk" looking towards The Column of Liberty


After a leisurely stroll down the "Long Walk" taking in the views across to the orangery, ruined hall and the stable block we climbed up the hill to the base of the Column of Liberty and had a well earned rest in the autumn sunshine.

There are miles of tranquil walks and the estate is a haven for wildlife with red kites often circling in the skies above. It also has a wildlife hide to view and photograph visitors such as cold tits, great tits and nuthatches so Matthew got in a bit of practise here before visiting the Potting Shed cafe.
It was a lovely experience and well worth a visit if you are in the area.


  1. I'm such a romantic - I LOVE this bit... 'fell in love with his housekeeper'...
    am commenting on this on three counts:
    1. it's lovely when people 'like' your post on Facebook but better when they comment on your blog about it (in my humble opinion)
    2. Last weeks Professional Practice session was on social media/ networking and i thought I SHOULD really do the tasks myself, hence also updating my own blog!
    3. It was lovely to see you all on Thursday (well I think it was Thursday!)
    Ciao for now! Cx

  2. Thanks Claire for taking the time to comment. You are such a dedicated lecturer. I hope CCAD appreciate you as much as all your students and ex-students do.