Saturday, 4 July 2015

Washington Old Hall


In the heart of Washington village, located near the north east coast of England, is Washington Old Hall. It stands as a testimony to Anglo-American friendship. 
This charming Hall is an historic landmark with links to the first US President, George Washington. The house predominantly dates from the 17th century but still incorporates a large portion of the original 12th century building. It was once home to George Washington's ancestors and it is from here that they took the family name. By 1860 the house had slid down the social scale. It became a working class tenement for 70 years. During that time it was rented out with up to 35 people living in appalling conditions until 1930. It was due to be demolished in 1933 but was saved by Frederick Hill, a local School Master, who formed a preservation committee to protect it.
It is a place of pilgrimage for many visitors from across the pond, and every year on the 4th July they hold a special Independence Day ceremony.
The manor house and its pretty jacobean gardens provide a tranquil oasis.
There is plenty of box topiary hedging within the garden including this beautifully manicured woven feature.
The central hall within the manor house
George Washington by Rembrandt Peale - 1850 
George Washington, the first president of the US, was born in 1732 to Captain Augustine Washington and Mary Ball. 
Captain Washington was a direct descendant of Colonel John Washington who emigrated to Virginia from England in 1656.
John was a descendant of William de Hertburn, who acquired the original dwelling on the site of the Old Hall around 1183.
The house stayed within the Washington family until 1613 when it was sold to the Bishop of Durham.

30 comments:

  1. I have never seen such beautiful woven hedges!

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    1. It is a little work of art in box hedging

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  2. A Manor with an interesting history , and incredible Buxus hedges !

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    1. Hope the blight stays away - curiously, and rather strangely, our Buxus hedging seems to be rejuvenating itself. I understood that once it was attacked by blight that was the end of it.

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  3. I was really interested to read about George's background, today being Independence Day - thanks for all the info Rosemary.
    I looked it up on a map too - found another piece of our beautiful England I've yet to see!

    Wow - those woven box hedges are amazing, have never seen them cut like that - oh to have such a garden outside my back door!
    Happy weekend - I'm still jet-lagged and fighting whatever bug decided to come back across the pond to North Carolina with me - this seems to happen every time I fly lately, grrrrrr!!!!!!

    Hugs - Mary

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    1. Dearest Mary - I do empathise with you - a couple of years ago the same thing happened to me every time I flew. Recently, she touches a piece of wood, I have been fine. The trouble is that some pilots flying long distance planes do it on recycled air to save fuel, and the bugs go from one person to another! By the way you do seem to have a lot of stamina as you mentioned previously that you will be back over the pond again this year. Well done you♡ I for one feel that it is important, if we can, to make the most of these precious years left to us whilst we are fit and able.
      Take care Mary, and be better soon.

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  4. Thank goodness the house escaped demolition!
    Glad to read that your box is growing back too. Long may it continue.

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    1. We are sitting on the fence re: the box - only time will tell, but the signs at the moment look curiously good

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  5. We've always meant to visit there, but never seem to make it.

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    1. You must try and make it up there sometime when you are over, there is much of interest to see up there

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  6. The Jacobean garden with the box hedge topiary is gorgeous, but not for my garden, pfffft.....so much trimming. Nice to visit this interesting manor.

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    1. That is a problem with box, but is only a once a year job

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  7. Hello Rosemary, I have seen 19th century photos of this house, but never knew its later story until now. A nice treat for the Fourth of July! Considering that people knew its history before, I am surprised that this English Washington house got into such a sad state, especially considering the early efforts to protect and restore Mt. Vernon, Washington's home in Virginia, which has long been a sort of national shrine in the U.S.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - I suppose it is a fact that the world was a much smaller place then. Local people would have been more insular and may not have attached much importance to the property - life for many was a struggle. Perhaps at that time too citizens of the USA were unaware of the historical links.

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  8. Dear Rosemary,
    This is a really great post. A few years ago, I watched a documentary about the home of George Washington.. this very one. I enjoyed it and learnt a lot.
    You have brought back the interest ' Washington old home'.. The topiary tailored garden is stunning.
    I wonder if there are members of the family still living in England.!
    val x

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    1. I don't know the answer to that Val, but I suspect that there must be descendants still living in the UK. There is also another house here with strong connections to George Washington, and that is Sulgrave Manor, in Banbury, Oxfordshire.

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  9. Dear Rosemary, beautiful house, wonderful that it has been saved and not been demolished and with that an important piece of history! Love the topiary knot garden. I have never seen a weaving pattern like this before. Have to get ready to celebrate 4th of July now!
    Wishing you a nice rest of the weekend!
    Christina

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    1. Dear Christina I do hope that your celebrations have gone off well and that you have all had a happy time. The weaving pattern in the knot garden is very effective.

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  10. Don't tell anyone but rumor has it that according to the genealogists, George W was a relative of mine. I am cursed with family members who have to research and trace every soul who ever shook hands with one of us. Not to mention, there was also a "traitor" lurking on that family tree .. one from the history books. I would rather not know any more.

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    1. Don't worry I think that it is highly likely that we all have black sheep lurking in our families somewhere. Someone writing online has managed to trace all of the subsequent US Presidents to George Washing, and believe it or not includes Barrack Obama in the list!

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  11. What a majestic old Hall, and how wonderful it was able to be saved. The Eagles are most impressive and perfect as a symbol of the friendship between nations. The Central Hall does look very American in style - I like it, brings back memories of trips to the USA. And of course I too love the woven feature of the Jacobean garden; it is extraordinary! What a great post for 4th July Rosemary.

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    1. The woven hedge is a tour de force Patricia

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  12. Dear Rosemary,

    Thanks for your 4th of July tribute. The Washington house appears to be beautifully kept and those celtic-knot hedges are wonderful. I've visited George Washington's Mount Vernon, and can report that he kept up on all the English styles, and imported all he could that was the latest in London, and long after the Revolution, too.

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    1. Hello Mark - I would be interested to visit Mount Vernon one day especially as I saw the replica garden at the American Museum in Bath last year.

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  13. Wonderful place, photo 3, never seen anything like this, great.
    Hugs

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    1. That woven hedge effect is a little work of art

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  14. Another treasure which you have found and shared with us. Very interesting story of the house through good and bad times, thank goodness it survived and was rescued. I so love that woven box hedge.

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    1. This is an old post that has been sitting in my drafts waiting for 4th July to come along, in fact I intended to post it last year and forgot, so I scheduled it this year. Washington Old Hall is a NT place and well worth a visit if you go up north.

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  15. I took notice when we passed by when we were in the area. It looks an interesting place and one to visit when we're that way again.

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    1. It is a far nicer setting than I imagined it would be

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