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Last summer I spent a whole day basking in the sunshine in the stunning grounds of Seaton Delaval Hall and I became rather captivated by this little gem in the National Trust’s crown. You can read about that visit HERE but today I’m writing to let you know about an exciting two and half year project that is currently underway at Seaton Delaval Hall and what you can expect from your visit during the work and in the future…
The Curtain Rises: A Conservation Project to Repair and Improve Seaton Delaval Hall
Since acquiring Seaton Delaval Hall in 2009, the National Trust has made many critical repairs to the historic buildings and grounds and people from across the north east and beyond have been able to enjoy exploring the 18th century former home of the notorious Delaval family.
However, in order to ensure it can continue to be enjoyed by future generations, a major project was required, to carry out out essential conservation work and make much needed improvements to visitor facilities.
In Spring 2018, the National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded £3.7 million to the National Trust. This was a huge contribution to the overall budget of £7.8 million pounds for the Curtain Rises Project.
After a Europe wide search, the National Trust appointed local construction company, Historic Property Restoration Limited to carry out the work and they were kind enough to lend me a high-vis and hard hat so I could take a sneak peek behind the scenes of the project..
What Exactly is Going On?
Breathing new life in to this Baroque masterpiece in Northumberland is certainly no mean feat and much of the work is to areas that you wouldn’t necessarily notice as a visitor. They’re doing things like levelling the basement floors, re-pointing the bastions and conserving the ‘ha-ha’ walls so they don’t fall in to dis-repair. National Trust are also installing a conservation-grade heating system, a new paint scheme and the West Wing is getting a new roof!
It means that all 5000 of the precious items that once adorned the West Wing have been packed away for safe keeping but there’s still lots to see. I actually think it’s a really fascinating time to visit as you can learn more about the conservation work and you’ll be able to really appreciate the difference once the project is complete.
As the buildings are so fragile, the painstaking project will take a long time. For instance, each and every step on the pair of stunning spiral staircases has its own care plan! But thankfully, thanks to the work being done in stages, Seaton Delaval will remain open, you might just have to excuse the scaffolding and no entry signs for a while.
Better Facilities are Coming!
During my hard hat tour, I learnt that as well as important conservation efforts going on behind the scenes, there’s plans to restore the gardens to their former glory, inspired by the estate plans from 1871. We’re also getting new permanent toilets (which will be soooo much nicer than the current conveniences)!
Plus, there’ll a vibrant new play area by Spring 2020, inspired by Baroque theatre. It’s being created by Studio Hardie, led by Channel 4’s Amazing Spaces and Shed of the Year presenter, William Hardie. The designs will create a magical theatre in the woodlands, full of surprises and tricks – very in keeping with the passions of the Delaval family. The old playground has to be removed sooner rather than later so that does mean that Seaton Delaval Hall will be without a play area for a while be trust me, the new one will be worth the wait!
The thing I’m personally most excited about though is the brand new ‘brew house’ café… A gorgeous building that has been unused for years is being transformed in to a 60-seat café full of character and original features. It will have a proper kitchen so Seaton Delaval Hall can offer yummy home cooked food instead of just pre-packed sandwiches and there’ll be additional seating outdoors for those lovely sunny days. I was lucky enough to be allowed a peek inside this beautiful venue even though the construction workers were grafting in there – even before any of the fixtures and fittings had been added I could already tell it’s going to be a wonderful addition to this much loved north east attraction.
Exciting Times for the Local Community
The team at Seaton Delaval Hall are passionate about working closely with the local community to tell the stories of the area and the hall.
They’ve created a community programme as part of of the Curtain Rises project which includes:
- Working with Seaton Sluice First School to help the set up and run a ‘nature rangers’ group.
- Collaborating with local schools to take part in a year long programme to ‘reinvent the normal’. Every pupil puts forward an idea with selected ideas prototyped and exhibited.
- Working with local nurseries, childminders and family carers on an inter-generational ‘garden to grub’ project, involving garden planting plan, growing vegetables, developing and testing recipes with tasting events.
- Theatre: taking inspiration from the ‘gay Delavals’ who inhabited the hall and working with local amateur dramatics groups, new writing and productions will be created and performed within the grounds of Seaton Delaval Hall
- Community Open House: Anyone can visit for free on Wednesday 14 August – this is in addition to the Heritage Open Day in September when free admission is also available.
- Digital engagement: work with young people aged 13-18 and with local digital technology specialists to design and create digital responses to the stories of the hall.
Northumbria University are also getting stuck in to the Curtain Rises project, developing a package of learning resources for educational visits is just one of the ways they are involved.
And YOU can be part of this monumental time for Seaton Delaval Hall too…
There are loads of ways you can embrace the changes and be part of the transformational journey that Seaton Delaval Hall is going on, here’s a few ways you can get involved…
- Spotlight Tours take place every day the venue is open from 12.30pm – 1.15pm – a great way to find out more in a short space of time.
- Garden Tours are available on the first Friday of the month and are a chance to discover what’s new and in bloom.
- Delaval Discoveries: Wider Estate Walk – On various dates throughout the year you can join volunteers on a fascinating 4 mile walk to learn about how the Delaval family made their fortunes check website for details. Booking essential. Charge applies.
- Behind the Scenes: Hard Hat Tours – You can get exclusive access to project areas with lead contractors from Historic Property Restorations on various dates. It’s free with admission but you need to book your place as space is limited.
- The National Trust is a large charity so simply by visiting you will be helping to keep Seaton Delaval Hall going… forever… for everyone!
If I’ve inspired you tp pay Seaton Delaval Hall a visit, here’s all the info you should need to plan the perfect day out…
Seaton Delaval Hall Admission:
- Adult: £7.95 (gift aid), £7.20 (standard)
- Child: £4 (gift aid), £3.60 (standard)
- Family: £19.50 (gift aid), £17.50 (standard)
- Under 5’s go free
National Trust Membership:
- Individual: Monthly £6, Annual direct debit: £72
- Two adults: Monthly: £10, annual DD: £120
- Family with two adults (and up to 10 children or grandchildren): Monthly £10.50, annual DD: £126
- Family with one adult (and up to 10 children or grandchildren): Monthly £6.50, annual DD: £78
- Young person 18-25: Annual DD only £36
- Junior 0-17: annual DD only: £10
Annual membership provides free entry to over 500 places in England and Wales along with reciprocal access to National Trust of Scotland properties for a full year.
Opening Times 2019
- Seaton Delaval Hall is currently open 10am – 5pm, Thursday – Sunday (plus Bank Holiday Mondays).
- The venue is closed Monday-Wednesday.
- From the 4th November – 29 December opening hours will reduce to 10am – 3pm.
Getting Here via Public Transport:
There’s a bus stop directly outside Seaton Delaval Hall! These are the services you need…
- 58 Service from East Cramlington to East Hartford
- X7 between Newcastle Haymarket and Blyth Bus Station
- Both services stop right outside the gates of the hall.
- 308 Newcastle Haymarket to Blyth and 309 Newcastle Haymarket to Blyth also both stop approximately half a mile away down the hill in Seaton Sluice.
- Nearest metro: Monkseaton, approximately 3 miles.
For anything else check out: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/seaton-delaval-hall/