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Windlestone Hall

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Windlestone Hall
Location in County Durham
General information
LocationCounty Durham, England, UK
Coordinates54°39′11″N 1°35′35″W / 54.653°N 1.593°W / 54.653; -1.593
OS gridNZ263287

Windlestone Hall is an early 19th-century country house situated near Rushyford, County Durham, England. It is a Grade II* Listed building.[1]

The Eden family who held the manor of Windlestone in the 17th century were Royalists during the English Civil War, and Colonel Robert Eden who had served in the King's army, was obliged to campaign for the return of his confiscated estate. Following the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, his grandson, also Robert Eden, was created a baronet in 1672, (see Eden baronets).[2]

In 1821, the fifth Baronet, Robert Johnson Eden, replaced the 16th-century manor house with a new mansion designed by architect Ignatius Bonomi. The two-storey house presents a twelve-bay balustraded frontage to the east. A balustraded Doric order colonnade extends across nine bays of the ground floor. The north ends in a large apse. A billiard room was attached to the north east in the late-19th century.[1]

On the death of the fifth Baronet in 1844, the estate and Baronetcy passed to his first cousin once removed, Sir William Eden, who was already the fourth Eden of Maryland Baronet.[2] He was High Sheriff of Durham in 1848.

The house was the birthplace in 1897 of Anthony Eden, the younger son of the sixth baronet; Eden entered parliament as a Conservative Party Member of Parliament in 1923, later serving as a cabinet minister before serving as Prime Minister from 1955 to 1957.[3] Eden's brother Timothy inherited the baronetcy and the estate on the death of their father in 1915, and sold the Hall (along with 4,500 acres, a London property at Hyde Park Gardens and the village of Rushyford) in 1936 to John Todd of Northallerton.[4] By that time, the Hall had been leased for three years to the Wayfarers' Benevolent Fund, a charity helping to train young homeless people. The lease still had seven years remaining at the time of the sale.[4]

The house and estate were used as a prisoner of war camp during World War II,[5] a satellite camp of Harperley POW Camp 93.[citation needed] Durham County Council acquired the Hall around 1954[6] and, between 1957 and 2006, it was occupied by Windlestone Hall School, a local authority residential special school. The school closed in 2006, and was sold for £240,000 by Durham County Council to William Davenport, a private investor, in 2011.[5] Durham County Council was criticised for the sale, especially when Windlestone Hall was put back on the market three years later for £2,500,000 – over ten times the previous sale price.[7] Davenport, the investor, was jailed for 6 years in 2016 for using forged documents to acquire a mortgage when purchasing the house and estate,[8] and the property was repossessed by the bank.[5]

Windlestone Hall was listed for auction with an entry guide price of £400,000 in July 2017. On 17 July 2017 it was removed from the auction and marked as "sold prior to auction" to an, as yet, unknown buyer.[9] The BBC later reported that the Hall had been purchased by Carlauren, a property developer, for £850,000; it intended to turn the Hall into a high-end care home and attracted £8.5m in investment through the sale of 53 residential units which investors would lease to care-home residents. The BBC reported in October 2019, however, that the property was "still derelict" and not operating as a care home.

Having been exposed to the elements since the major roof metal (lead) theft of 2017, the building is now considered to be beyond economical repair - costing more to repair than its completed value.

In November 2019 Durham County Council secured the property and gave notice for no access due to safety. The interior is deteriorating rapidly although it seems work has started by someone, as yet unknown, to secure the exterior from further damage and deterioration.

In July 2020 the Hall and Estate were purchased by a dedicated preservation trust, a registered UK charity, with the sole aim of protecting, restoring and preserving the heritage assets. The Trust have ambitious plans for complete restoration of Windlestone Hall to its former glory as a significant private residence, reinstatement of the walled gardens and grounds, returning the designed landscape and reinstating a working and viable country estate with significant access for the public.


  1. ^ a b English Heritage: Images of England, photograph and architectural description
  2. ^ a b The Baronetage of England Containing a Genealogical and Historical Account of all the Baronets now existing, Edward Kimber and Richard Johnson, Vol 2 (1771) pp. 368-70
  3. ^ "Sir Anthony Eden".
  4. ^ a b "Windlestone Hall sold", Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette, 15 July 1936, p. 2.
  5. ^ a b c "Windlestone Hall still derelict despite millions invested", BBC News, 14 October 2019. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Damage to Eden family mausoleum", Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 15 November 1954, p. 3.
  7. ^ "Windlestone Hall up for £2.5m after Durham County Council sale". 4 November 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  8. ^ "William Davenport jailed for Windlestone Hall mortgage fraud". 28 September 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  9. ^ Stuart Arnold, "Windlestone Hall, near Rushyford, County Durham, is withdrawn from auction after being sold to mystery buyer", The Northern Echo, 19 July 2017. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
This page was last edited on 21 January 2021, at 03:06
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