Face up to hidden history

The Hidden carving of the Cook's face at Belsay Hall.
The Hidden carving of the Cook's face at Belsay Hall.

VISITORS are being encouraged to take a closer look around Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens to unlock some of the estate’s hidden history.

English Heritage, which runs the venue, has announced a new programme this month to show each of its attractions in a new light.

At Belsay, people will be urged to explore the East Quarry Garden to find a legacy of the pets of the Middleton family, who used to own the hall.

The names of Polly, Mandy and Lucy can be found engraved in stone, marking the place where the family dogs were buried.

And there is an even more unusual stone engraving in the castle’s log store.

Legend has it that when the manor house was rebuilt in the 1870s, Sir Arthur Middleton had employed a stonemason to work on the property. The master mason took a fancy to the cook and to show his affection he carved her face into the stone.

The Take Another Look programme also includes artefact exploring and stone cleaning at Chesters Roman Fort, talks and tours at Housteads Roman Fort, a peek inside the Duke’s Room at Warkworth Castle and the chance to see the Viking Raiders’ Stone at Lindisfarne Priory.

Attractions are open every weekend, from 10am to 4pm.

For more information visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/northeast