£3.4m conservation project concludes at Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens

Image: Belsay Hall and Gardens

Northumberland venue’s two-year restoration has revived the historic castle, gardens, and Grecian architecture

A major two-year conservation and revival project at Northumberland’s Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens is today completed.

Featuring Grecian architecture, a medieval castle and 30-acre Grade I-listed gardens, the project to revive the buildings and grounds has been backed by £3.4 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, alongside support from Garfield Weston Foundation and The Foyle Foundation.

Among the work completed is the replacement of the Hall’s roof. Its unique architectural design, based on the still-standing Temple of Hephaestus in Athens, had caused leaks and damp issues for over two hundred years.

The Hall was designed by Sir Charles Monck after a two year-long honeymoon taking in the classical sites of Greece.

Mark Douglas, English Heritage’s Properties Curator, explained: “Belsay Hall’s concealed gutters proved, over the next two hundred years, to be its downfall; it appears that Monck hadn’t accounted for Northumberland’s harsh winters! It has been such a relief to finally banish the damp from the Hall and safeguard Belsay for future generations.”

The interior of Belsay Hall

The castle’s medieval stonework has also been repaired. Outside, landscape designer and gardener Dan Pearson planned a new scheme to add over 80,000 new plants. In the Hall woodland garden alone, which had become swamped by overgrown laurels and rhododendrons, 35,000 plants have been added, restoring previously lost historic views on Crag Wood’s scenic walk.

John Watkins, English Heritage’s Head of Gardens and Landscapes, said: “ With the help of international plantsman and designer Dan Pearson, we have rejuvenated the more formal gardens and Hall Woodland Garden.

‘Dan’s plantsmanship and painterly eye have helped to bring out the individual character of the extensive garden areas which will provide beauty and interest throughout the year.”

New interpretation includes projected animation and soundscape on the ground floor, and the exploration of ‘The Wildman’ – a medieval mythical figure which features on the coat of arms of the Middleton family who owned Belsay for over 700 years.