Ok I’ll fess up, I’m a card carrying National Trust member. We’ve a number of decent places close to us that are always worth a trip to on a sunny day including Kedleston Hall Hardwick Hall and Calke Abbey.

Also as NT properties almost always have a good restaurant and toilets, we’ve taken to using them as a stop off on our way to and from holidays. If we get ourselves organised correctly it means we can avoid motorway service stations.

On the last day of our visit to Northumberland, we popped the remarkable Cragside House. This Victorian home built on a rocky hillside by Lord Armstrong stands in 1,700 acres of tree filled land was powered by a world first hydroelectric system and packed full of 19th century gadgets.

With electric lights, sauna’s, dish washers and devices to cook meat over the fire similar to a modern kebab rack. Armstrong liked his gadgets as much as me! He also did lots of remarkable things including supplying the hydraulic rams for Tower Bridge, and inventing the hydraulic accumulator.

The house looks a little randomly stuck together as opposed to some of the classical stately buildings one associates as a country home. None the less it’s very impressive and once inside even more so. Kept in excellent condition with all the furniture, books pots and pans still in place, what’s more unusually you can take photo’s (no flash please).

The decoration is generally beautiful, bar the ‘bamboo bedroom’ which was a bit naff. The wall papers and tiles are detailed and lovely as are the light hangings. I could have spent a lot more time taking everything and it’s a place to revisit without doubt.

The grounds look equally stunning, but we were short on time so couldn’t explore them fully. Anyway here’s some pictures, see them larger on my Flickr stream



Cragside House




Wallpaper 1

Wallpaper 2