Hall marks a sparkling anniversary

Belsay Hall, Castle & Gardens has notched up 60 years as a visitor attraction this August.
Belsay Hall, Castle & Gardens has notched up 60 years as a visitor attraction this August.

A NORTHUMBERLAND tourist attraction rolled out the bunting to celebrate its diamond anniversary.

Sir Stephen Middleton first opened his private family estate to the visiting public in August 1951 and in 1985, Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens came under the guardianship of English Heritage.

A large 60th birthday cake was made for the celebrations, which took place at the weekend, and those who attended were able to have a look at the original guidebook and 1950s signage.

Since taking on the property, English Heritage has continued the protection and preservation of the castle and hall and revived the gardens to their former glory.

Visitor operations team member Bill Taggart has worked at Belsay since 1987 and is currently the longest serving member of staff.

He said: “Belsay has seen a little of everything during its time as an attraction such as medieval jousts and fashion displays and there aren’t many historic homes that have played host to a 10ft naked man, as the property did during last year’s Extraordinary Measures art exhibition.

“I can hardly believe all the changes that have occurred during my time here. The buildings, although empty of furnishings, are in a much better condition and I’ve had the opportunity to watch the whole site develop with events, a tea room and shop.

“I also remember fondly talking to the late Sir Stephen Middleton — he was full of interesting stories about this family home. Yet still, the best thing about working at Belsay is being able to walk through the magical quarry gardens every day. There really is nowhere quite like it.”

For more information about the attraction, visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/belsay