Where to go: Washington Old Hall

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Very cool “Where to Go” entry this morning from blogger Sam of Future; Nostalgic, who writes about a recent trip to Washington Old Hall in Northeast England… be sure to click the photographs and see the larger versions.

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We took a family trip to Washington Old Hall yesterday. It’s one of those places on our doorstep that for one reason or another we’ve never got around to visiting before. The connection to George Washington’s family is well known, but we had not realised there has been a house on the site since the 1180s when William de Hertburn bought the land from Hugh le Puiset, Bishop of Durham, and changed his name to “de Wessynton” as was the custom of the time.

By the end of the nineteenth century, the Old Hall’s fortunes had faded and it had become a working class tenement and was home to thirty five people. When it was forced to close in 1932 due to its poor state of repair, nine families lived there and, in a display about the last tenants, one of them recalls his first job at the local coal mine, the family was so poor that he had to borrow his father’s trousers until pay day, when he was finally able to buy a pair of long trousers of his own. Another tells of his abiding boyhood memory — watching his father sweep the mice off the pantry shelves every morning; needless to say, every family kept a cat and a resident population remains to this day.

Restored in the 1950s, in part with the help of some generous American benefactors, Washington Old Hall and its beautiful gardens are now owned by the National Trust and are a wonderful oasis of calm and greenery. The Old Hall features a collection of artifacts connected to George Washington and the struggle for American Independence, including Martha Washington’s fan and some sheets of vintage US postage stamps, and some more modern items, many of which were donated by visiting groups from the US.

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It was a great trip, one we should have made years ago, though my wife was glad to be visiting in modern times, she’s not too keen on mice you see!

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2 thoughts on “Where to go: Washington Old Hall

  1. This is a great article, I originate from this area and never even knew about it. My appetite has been whetted and I’ll taking a trip shortly. Wonderfully composed photos as well.

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