Wallington Hall is based in the small village of Combe in Northumberland.
It was owned by the Fenwick Family (of Fenwicks department store!). The Fenwick Family ended up having financial troubles and so sold the Hall and its estates to the Blackett family. The last surviving Blackett family member, Sir Walter, had no children alive and so passed everything down to his sister’s son, Sir John Trevelyan.
The Hall was eventually donated to the National Trust, the first ever one to do so and it’s been in its care ever since.
Phew, now that all that information is out of the way, I can start telling you all about my visit!
Northumberland, of which Cambo is part of, is in a very rural area so there are no means of public transport to get you there. Your entire journey would have to be made by car or a coach if you’re part of a large group. Bummer eh?
There’s plenty of parking space once you arrive and they’re not too far from the Hall either. If you’re bringing a pushchair, they’re fine to use on the grounds of the Hall but not inside the building itself. At the entrance of the Hall, you are given a tag (like a cloakroom tag) with a number and the same number is attached to your pushchair. They store your pushchair away whilst you look around the house. The house is quite big so be prepared to stop and rest every so often if like me you have a wriggly and/or heavy child.
This is the National Trust, it was never going to be cheap! For starters, an adult entry costs £13.20 and £33.00 for a family. Bear in mind that they don’t mention how many children make up a family.. The usual are two adults and two children so if you’re interested in a family ticket, I’d get informed beforehand. Daddy and I have membership cards that we pay monthly for but we tend to visit lots of stately homes and castles.
The grounds are beautifully landscaped by Lance ‘Capability’ Brown. Capability Brown was born and bred in the area and was very much in demand in the mid 1700’s. He is the gentleman behind the gardens at Alnwick Castle and is famed for making his landscapes look like paintings.
Standing in front of the house and in a prominent position are gargoyle stone heads. They are quite impressive to look at but unfortunately there was no information as to where they had come from and why they were positioned there.
The grounds also have a coffee shop of which I’ll mention more below. The estate has gardens to both the East and West of it but we didn’t have the time to explore them.
It was a great experience walking from room to room, each filled with antiquities and curiosities but be aware that the staff are not very knowledgeable when it comes to the collections themselves. You do have explanatory booklets in each room but these may not be available during busy periods as they are limited in quantity.
Look out for the Central Hall, the walls were converted to dedicated murals telling stories about the North-East, such as the Tyne Bridge being built. I didn’t get a chance to read or analyse this properly due to a bored toddler but will be going back to see it properly.
Another slight letdown of the day was the the estate cafe. I found the staff to be very distracted and not very communicative. Watch out for queueing up all the way to the till for cake only to discover that you need to serve it yourself and then queue up. You then hold up the queue by serving yourself cake whilst the cashier waits for you. In the grand scheme of things, this is nothing but it’s very time consuming for the cashier, you and the customers waiting to be served. A simple sign requesting the self-service of cakes would have been enough, I feel.
Oh, and no chocolate cake. How you can run a cafe and not have a chocolate cafe, I don’t know but then again, I’m a chocolate fiend and not everybody feels the same way about chocolate as I do..
I did leave with a leaflet for a recipe for gin and lemon cake so that made up for everything. Watch this space for its making!
Activities for children
There’s actually lots to do for children. If running around the gardens is not enough for them, there is a playground within the gardens. Close to the clock tower is a portacabin that is decorated to look like a classroom and lots of children’s activities take place there. It was closed the day we went but it looked like a fun place for kids.
All in all, I had a great day out at Wallington Hall. As a National Trust pass holder, would I go back again? Yes but it’s definitely one of my least favourite places to visit. I feel that the place itself lacked warmth and not enough history about its original owners, the Fenwicks and the Blacketts.
Have you been to Wallington Hall? What did you think of it?