Washington Old Hall is a hidden gem in the North East. History seeps from every corner of the manor.
The steps of the gentry and their servants can almost be heard echoing round the wood panelled walls and stone flagged floors. Go outside and take a stroll in the beautifully recreated 17th Century gardens which lead to a nut orchard.
Washington Old Hall is a 17th Century manor house found in the centre of Washington village. The manor house incorporates part of the medieval home of the de Wessyngtons. The family later changed their name to Washington and are the ancestral family of George Washington, first president of the USA.
Washington Old Hall is looked after by the National Trust. We have visited many National Trust properties like Wallington and Seaton Delaval Hall but we have never been to Washington Old Hall. Having heard it was really interesting we set off to find out more.
The hall is well signposted and can be found easily. A small free car park is situated on the grounds with space for about ten cars. Tickets can be bought in the gift shop just opposite the car park. Access is down some stairs and past an elaborate looking hedge. National Trust members get free entrance. If you are not a member the prices are:
The ground floor of Washington Old Hall shows how the hall would have been during the 17th Century. Walking into the hall you enter the Great Hall. This would have been the centre of the household, where the family and guests ate at a Central Table. The furniture is oak and decorated with carvings which would have been typical of the time.
The arches at the end of the hall lead to the kitchen, the walls are the remains of the medieval building that was here at the time. The kitchen must have been a busy and bustling place as the servants prepared meals here.
The private family rooms are at the far end of Washington Old Hall. The oak panelled room is impressive and filled with things that show what life would have been like during these times. The spinning wheel in the corner shows what people did to fill their spare time in those days.
The house is small and easy to walk around and you get a real feel of the history of the place as you enter each room. The staircase brings reminders of the connection to the Washington family as it showcases some treasures. Walking up the stairs is like a journey into history. Pictures and other memorabilia show the history of the Washington family and their connection with George Washington. There is a lot to see, all of it fascinating.
The upstairs at Washington Old Hall is a reminder of the houses decline and how it nearly became derelict. At the end of the 18th Century the hall became a tenement building which housed 35 people. They were living in small rooms in cramped conditions. These rooms have been recreated to show what conditions would have been like. It is fascinating seeing how much fitted into one room.
In 1932 the hall was declared unfit for human habitation. Fortunately in the 195o’s the hall was restored due to local people forming a preservation society to raise funds. This was successful and the hall was given to the National Trust in 1955 who have looked after it ever since. A video explaining the history of Washington Old Hall was on show which was really interesting.
At the back of Washington Old Hall are the gardens. Stepping outside the hall there is a lawned area. A croquet set was available on the lawn and my husband and son were soon involved in a match. The lawned area overlooks the 17th Century parterre which is accessed by a flight of stairs guarded by two eagles. The garden is a pleasure to stroll around. Beyond the parterre you will find the orchard and the nuttery, which is home to a vast array of wildlife. When we were there tables were set up to show the types of wildlife that could be found in the vegetable beds, ponds and soil. It was fascinating learning about all the different creatures that can be found in the garden.
The gardens would be a lovely place to sit and relax on a warm summer day, they are an oasis of calm and tranquillity.
Washington Old Hall also has a tea room which is run by the Friends of Washington Old Hall and it is meant to be a lovely place to visit. We did not get time to pop in on this occasion but hope to go back and visit soon. Washington Old Hall was a fascinating place to visit so do pop in if you get the chance. Have you ever visited? What did you think? Let me know below.