The rise and fall of historic hall — guild hears it all

Morpeth Stobhillgate Townswomen’s Guild

WE had a very busy April meeting as it was our AGM and Mr Hughes from the National Trust was our speaker.

His talk on the rise and fall of Seaton Delaval Hall was extremely interesting.

It ranged from land being granted to Hubert De La Val by William Conqueror in the 11th Century to the present day.

The hall began as a modest house and a church, built on the land in the ancient borough of Hartley, now Seaton Sluice.

Five hundred years later Ralph Delaval developed the harbour and so was able to export salt from the nearby Holywell Dene to Southern England and became very rich.

From them on fortunes were made and lost by succeeding generations.

One Admiral George Delaval was responsible for the house we see today.

He commissioned the architect Sir John Vanbrugh to build a large mansion, but he died before the work was completed and the new heir Francis had to pay the £10,000 bill – approximately £800,000 today.

He married a very rich lady Rhoda Apreece, who bore him 11 children.

The most feckless of the Delavals was Frank, who won and lost fortunes. He spent money like water and never paid bills.

He once invited 4,000 guests to a banquet at the hall. The menu included hams, swans, boars heads, lobsters, fowls, etc, and desserts included strawberry tarts, oranges, figs, blacmanges. He died aged 44.

John Delaval inherited and improved the family’s fortunes again. He was the last Delaval.

Sir James Astley inherited, but accidents continued to happen.

A fire destroyed a section of the house and a mining tragedy at Hartley resulted in the death of over 200 miners, some as young as ten.

The hall today is owned by the National Trust, with help from 100,000 people who contributed money to help the trust with the purchase.

It is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday and is well worth a visit to see this lovely estate being restored.

Mrs Rutherford thanked Mr Hughes and after re-electing our Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer again we enjoyed tea and biscuits.

Our raffle winners were Mrs Wilson, Mrs Henderson and Mrs Johnson.

Our next meeting is on Thursday, May 9 at St Robert’s Church Hall, at 2pm. All welcome.