Location: 87 068 795.
Going north from Newcastle on the Otterburn road
you will pass through Belsay. You are very likely to
notice the arcaded buildings on the left, one of the
interesting features of this pretty village.
The Middleton family dates back as far as 1160 and
has long been associated with Belsay.
During the reign of Edward II, Sir Gilbert Middleton,
the head of the family at that time, rebelled against
the king and wrought havoc over his own county. Only
the castles of Norham, Bamburgh and Alnwick held
out against him. He added to his long list of misdeeds
by kidnapping and holding to ransom the bishop-elect
Order was eventually restored and Sir Gilbert was
executed. The family lost all their estates but they
eventually recovered them by a judicious marriage
When their interests were again threatened, this time
by the border reivers, the Middletons had built for
themselves a massive tower which would have well
served as the keep of a castle. The towef!)is an
exceptional one in size and strength and is reputed to
be the biggest and best of its type in the whole of the
The relative Border peace of the early seventeenth
century saw the addition of a Jacobean manor house
to the tower and this remained the family home until
the Hall was erected. As these two buildings - the
tower and the manor house - are adjoining, it is
interesting to see how the narrow defensive slits of
the tower gave way, when peace was restored, to
wide expansive windows of the manor.
Around the 1830s the Middletons built for
themselves the magnificent Hall which still stands
today. From the windows of the Hall there was a
splendid view of glorious Northumbrian countryside.
But the westerly outlook was spoilt by the village so
they simply had the whole village relocated to where
it stands today.
Traces of the old village are still visible on the high
ground to the west of the Hall and all that remains of
the village are two farms and a few cottages - and a
few bumps in the ground.
The Middletons held their Belsay estates until 1962
when they passed into the care of English Heritage.
The quarry from which the building stone was taken is
nearby and has been converted into an extensive
unusual garden of great beauty.
In the nearby farm of Bradford South is a barn which
was a bastle house built by Gabriel Ogle in 1567. The
original fire place still remains and the lintel is
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