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Happy Birthday Earl Grey

As I stood at the foot of Grey’s Monument last Saturday, watching the bargain hunters spilling in and out of the surrounding shops and enjoying the cheerful sounds of the young buskers, it felt like any normal day. However, I  was about to see Newcastle city centre in a whole new light…

Thanks to the Newcastle Association of City Guides  I was given the opportunity to climb the 164 steps hidden inside Grey’s Monument and experience a birds eye view of the city centre from the top. It was something I’d always wanted to do as I’d occasionally seen people milling around up there but could never quite fathom how they’d gained access. It wasn’t until the friendly and helpful guides, Marianne and Michael, led me to a tiny, inconspicious door that I realised how it was possible to enjoy the view that’s normally reserved for the pigeons!


Nowadays, Grey’s Monument is only open to visitors a few times a year and there’s a charge of £3 per person (or £1 for 5-15 yr olds) but there are several days this month when you grab your chance as it’s open on the 15th, 22nd and 29th. The lovely people at the tourist information centre can take your booking and answer any questions you have, just pop in to see them on Market Street or call 0191 277 8000.


After making my descent back down the windy staircase I felt very lucky, albeit a bit windswept, it really made me appreciate the beauty of some of Geordieland’s magnificent buildings and landmarks, including Emerson Chambers and St James’ Park, both of which can be seen in the image above.


I was in much need of a warm brew after my mini adventure up the 130ft monument and of course it simply had to be a cup of Earl Grey, so I headed for nearby teahouse, Quilliam Brothers.


Housed in Claremont Buildings, another fine example of architecture in Newcastle, Quilliam Brothers offers around 60 different varieties of tea and a mighty fine breakfast menu. It was my first visit here (as I’m usually coffee drinker if truth be told) but I’ll definitely be back as the food was yummy, reasonably priced and I found out they have regular free film screenings too!



To end this week’s blog post I thought I would share a few interesting facts about Charles Grey who was born 250 years ago today. If you know of any more about the birthday boy, feel free to comment below.

Things you might not have known about Charles Grey…

He was the 2nd Earl Grey and probably the most well known member of the family whose home was Howick Hall in nearby Northumberland.

He was Prime Minister of the UK from 1830 till 1834 and introduced the Great Reform Bill in 1832.

The famous statue was designed by Newcastle architect Benjamin Green and sculpted by E. H. Baily, who went on to create the statue for Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.

Grey’s Monument was erected in 1838, seven years before Earl Grey passed away (I wonder what he thought of it?)

The Town Moor in Newcastle and Northumberland Square in North Shields were two possible alternatives for the location of the Monument.

Earl Grey’s statue was struck by lightning in 1941 and his head fell into the street below!

The Grey family failed to register a trade mark for the famous tea that was created at Howick Hall; as a result, they have never received a penny for it.

By Rachel Kershaw

About Author

Rachel Kershaw

I'm a proud ambassador for all that's great about Geordieland and love sharing the best of what NewcastleGateshead has to offer. I may not be a Geordie born and bred but I've lived here for a over a decade and am proud to call this fabulous region my home!


  1. Lynn Hodgson Reply

    Thank you for bringing me a little bit of home! I too always wanted to go to the the top of the Earl Grey statue! Newcastle is one of the most beautiful and historical cities in the world and the architecture can’t be beat!
    Definitely on my “to do” the next tome I am home!

    • Thanks for your comment Lynn, be sure to pop in to the visitors centre next time you’re back in Geordieland, there are often city tours that you can take advantage of.

      • Diane jones Reply

        Unfortunately government funding cuts mean that the Newcastle tourist information centre is being closed on 6th April and 8 staff will be made redundant. There will be NO service for tourists and visitors, not even in the City Library.

        • Hi Diane, I’m so sorry to hear that, I’ve always loved popping in to the tourist information office. I believe the Grey’s Monument visits are organised by the volunteers at Newcastle City Guides so they will still continue to happen.

  2. Really enjoyed this blog post! I knew that it was possible to climb Grey’s Monument but never knew how! Also, I’ve never visited the Quilliam Brothers teahouse, but after the look of your scrummy breakfast I should give it a try! Rosie (

  3. I’m SO doing this at some point! I’m obsessed with a great view, and a great view of beautiful Newcastle is even better! x

  4. Margaret Fannen Reply

    As a Geordie/Kiwi living in Howick, New Zealand, among many other Geordies, I’m delighted with this post. Newcastle has some beautiful architecture, and many if us have never had the opportunity to climb Grey’s Monument, so thanks for the photos from the top. Hard to believe that a Earl Grey tea wasn’t patented. Thank you…

  5. Great article and beautiful pictures!

  6. Rachel, unlike you I am not one for heights, so I’ll never get to enjoy the view from the top of Grey’s Monument. But I drink Earl Grey tea every day of my life!

  7. Anonymous Reply

    Hi Rachel, Nice blog!!
    I hope i can do inside on the 15th! 🙂
    I’ll let you know how it was!


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