When Iris eyes are smiling
Finding a sunny day in Northumberland is like finding a gold coin in your Christmas pudding – quite rare and very precious. So when the cold front burned off and the ice blue sky and golden sunshine came out it made our trip to Wallington Hall an extra special sparkling early summer day.
|On the way to wonderful Wallington|
Sir Charles Trevelyan inherited Wallington in 1928 and the place was in poor repair at that time. So he and his wife Lady Mary Trevelyan set about improving the house, gardens and estate. Charles was a socialist MP and quite a modern thinker and understood that Wallington was there for everyone to enjoy. ‘I do not believe in private ownership of land. By pure chance I own Wallington. I regard myself solely as a trustee for the community.’ In fact, upon his death Lord Trevelyan gave Wallington to the National Trust, and it was its first ever such acquisition.
|A stately day out|
The house is a grand country home and you can tell from the interior that the family appreciated living there, but for me the real beauty of Wallington is its gorgeous grounds designed by the famous garden landscape artist Lancelot Capability Brown. He used natural barriers like rivers, streams and Ha Has. The Ha Ha is a kind of dropped ditch which kept animals in check, and separated sections of the Parkland but without interrupting the visual appeal of the estate with ugly walls or fences.
|The bell tower – time to visit Wallington|
If you visit the home of Sir Charles you will discover more about this gifted man and his unconventional family. The Trevelyans loved being outdoors and close to nature. The house is surrounded by an informal landscape of lawns, lakes, woodland, parkland and farmland. It must have been paradise for the children to have their very own grounds to explore and have adventures in. The woods were thick with bluebells and all kinds of wild flowers when we were there. We saw quite a lot of birds too including the Moorhens and Canada geese who were steering their new offspring through their very first summer.
|Gliding goose family|
I particularly love the hidden walled garden, nestled in the woods. It was loved by Lady Mary Trevelyan and is packed with beautiful flowers that can thrive in the Northumberland climate. The hot houses keep the more delicate specimens happy and all over the garden the gardeners were planting and tending flower beds with gusto.
|Gorgeous in the greenhouse|
It must be a pretty satisfying job when the weather is as nice as this. Access to the walled garden is across the road from the main house and you enter through Neptune’s Gate, descend the stone staircase, into the colourful jigsaw of flower borders. If you come up the other way from the river as we did, you sneak in through a wooden gate with a window of fancy wrought iron. It really does feel like secret garden.
|If you go down to the woods today|
There are two beautiful lakes in the grounds too, and this time of year they were the deepest glass green, full of lily pads yet to bloom with their huge ornamental white flowers. A boat house is home a little rowing boat looking as it is just about to set off on an adventure across the lake.
Back up at the house you can explore the history of Northumberland in huge pre-Raphaelite paintings around the Central Hall.
|The atrium in the house at Wallington|
Each room is stuffed with curiosities and I particularly liked the room packed with elaborate dolls houses and full armies of toy soldiers all in mint condition!
There is a lovely bell tower and a smart coffee and souvenir shop. As in other National Trust properties volunteers are on hand to help with lots of interesting information or just to say friendly hello.
On the day we visited, Wallington was packed with families (it was half term) enjoying themselves and there lots of things for kids to do as well. That afternoon there was a ‘how to light a fire’ demonstration going on in the woods. Hopefully accompanied by a ‘how to put one out’ one shortly afterwards.
The Wallington Hall gargoyles are fun too – their wrinkly baboon like faces may have been to ward off evil from the house or maybe they are just there for comic effect. It is a fun day out in our glorious English countryside at its best and it is very Eccentric England.
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