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

of Durham.

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

inscribed `G.0.1567.'



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