Riddlehamhope Hall, Northumberland - January 2017

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Max298

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First report (please go easy on me!)

The Explore
On a bitter but beautiful January day four years ago my father and I stumbled upon Riddlehamhope on a dog walk and proceeded to spend about 2 hours noseying about. Access was easy thanks to the ferocious weather having seen to it a while ago that the hall was to no longer have any windows or doors. The year following, sadly, the Hall was pulled down and is now nothing more than a pile of stone and broken timber, so, noticing that it appears to not have featured on here before, thought I should chuck up the (amateurish, I know) photos I took on the day for posterity, if nothing else. I know the quality isn't great but all I had with me was my phone!

The History
The ruins of Riddlehamhope Hall (used to) stand at the head of the Beldon Burn, which plunges down toward the village of Blanchland, across the Nookton and Newbiggin Fells. Just before it reaches the village, the Beldon joins the Nookton Burn and becomes the River Derwent. Prior to it falling out of use Riddlehamhope appears to have been a Victorian Hunting Lodge, most likely servicing the grouse moors in which it sits, though there were features which suggest that the house had much more humble (and historic) beginnings. To the western end there stood the ruins of the oldest apparent section of the building which measured 12m x 7m built of a rubble stone fabric with large roughly shaped angle quoins making up walls which were over one metre thick. One of the walls had the remainder of a slit-vent, formed by large slabs set diagonally through the wall-face. All of the aforementioned suggest that this was a Bastle; a fortified farmhouse synonymous with the area around the Anglo-Scottish border. It is likely that this part of the building dated from the mid-late 16th Century.

Built with security in mind, Bastles were designed as a means of protecting a farmers most valuable stock and (more importantly, surely) his family, from the hordes of Border Reivers who were commonplace in the area between the 13th and 17th Centuries. These were formed of both English and Scottish 'gangs' who pillaged and plundered the largely lawless region in a time when Anglo-Scot relations were at a particular low. The ground floor would have been used to house the livestock, with a substantial wooden floor forming the next level, where the family would reside. Usually, there would be no fixed stairway to the first floor; access being made instead by way of a ladder which would be lifted up at night. Bastle houses were often surrounded by a defensive stone wall known as a Barmkin, inside which other cattle and livestock unable to be fitted inside were kept overnight.

The Eastern portion of the Hall was the only part remaining in any semblance of a building-like state when we visited. Appearing to be of a Victorian construction and covering three storeys, it would certainly once have been a fantastically salubrious residence sited in a tremendous location with far-reaching views. However, its remoteness surely contributed to its ultimate demise, with harsh uninterrupted winds and driving rain (and snow) battering the structure for many years. That and, of course, that someone had seen fit to remove the sizeable stone slabs making up the roof covering...

Sadly, not a shred of information other than that garnered above can be found online. Similarly absent are any photographs of the Hall from before approx. 2010, so this observer can but imagine it in its heyday. Though apparently well beyond saving, I couldn't help but be disheartened by the demolition and loss of such a wonderful structure which, with some (read: s**t loads!) TLC and a shed load of cash thrown at it would have unquestionably made a beautiful home in a stunning location.

The Photos

The OS map from circa 1900:
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Google Earth screenshot showing the extent of the footings:
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Approaching from the East:
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Crumbly...:
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The old kennels for the house - where the shooting/hunting guests retrieving/scenting dogs would have stayed!
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Any ideas anyone?:
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The inside:
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A room with a view:
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And a room without...
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This might have stopped less-determined explorers!
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But not us!
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The view:
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The farm buildings to the right were still in use and so we didn't look round these:
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And Riddlehamhope in Early 2018... such a sorry sight (pilfered from google images, the questionable editing wasn't me, honest!)
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Thanks for looking! Feedback welcome :cool:
 

Darklldo

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Fascinating thank you :). The colour of the wall in the room just after the photo of the Roman Milestone was very popular in around the 1960s. You could get it in what was 'Whitewash'. For a while whitewash was coloured.
 

J_a_t_33

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What an unusual place. Looks like they've crammed windows in wherever they could just for the hell of it!

Awesome report, beautifully captured. Nice one!
 
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