Day: April 4, 2011

Espley Hall – Update

In my last post about Espley Hall I said that I thought the building was now being used as a wedding and meeting venue.  Fortunately I had a comment added to my post by someone who has personal knowledge of the hall.

Although I haven’t got an exact date it seems that Espley Hall might have been built about 1864.  The first census record I can find is 1881 in the civil parish of Highlaws Low and High, near Morpeth, Northumberland.  The head of the house is Charles Bulmer, aged 26 and described a Gentleman Farmer.  He is living with his wife Mary Ann and their daughter Mary (4).  Also there is his brother in law Frank H Ralphs (retired farmer) and his wife.  There are four servants – cook, housemaid, laundry maid and nurse.

The Bulmers are still there in 1891 and Charles is described as “Living on his own means”.  They have three more children – Charles (9), James Muir (8) and Ellen (6).  The brother in law and his wife are still there but now described as Fred Henry Ralphs and Grace Murray Ralphs.  They continue to employ four servants – cook, nurse, housemaid and general servant.

In 1901 the head of the house is now George B Bainbridge.  I understand he is from the dynasty that started Bainbridge Department store in Newcastle – now part of the John Lewis empire.

Anyway George is 50 years old described as a landowner and director of public companies.  He is living with his wife, Catherine and three children – Cuthbert (26), Mary F (21) and Geo. A (19).  They must have needed more looking after because there are six servants – cook, two housemaids, laundry maid, waiting maid, and kitchen maid.

The census for 1911 shows George, Catherine and Cuthbert are still living at the hall.  They now have eight servants for thee people (very Downton Abbey)- cook, waiting maid, two house maids, two laundry maids, kitchen maid and scullery maid.

I understand that the Bainbridge family sold the house and the estate sometime in the 1940’s.  Since then it has had several owners including the Sanderson’s, a prominent local family who opened Sanderson Arcade in Morpeth.  Later owners of the hall ran it as a private restaurant and wedding venue between the early 1980’s and late 1990’s.

There seems to have been various renovations over the years and the former servant quarters in the East Wing have been converted into a separate house sometime in the 1970’s.  There are a number of other houses:-

Espley Hall – the main body of the house

The West Wing

Courtyard Cottage

2 Espley Court

Butchers Cottage

I am grateful to David Bawn who posted the comment on my blog and for his background information.