Tuesday, 4 January 2011

“Strange Tales” of Seaton Delaval Hall (NZ322766)

From The Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend (December 1887):-
Strange tales used to be told by the old people of the neighbourhood of the mode of life of the Delavals in these extravagant days [late 18th century]. All the members of the family, male and female, were models of grace and beauty, the men perfect Adonises, the women worthy to contest the palm with the Cyprian goddess herself. They lived for luxurious enjoyment, love, and gallantry, the gayest of the gay, the wildest of the wild. Lord Delaval entertained an almost perpetual crowd of company at Delaval Hall. The frequent fêtes and masquerades that were given converted the house and gardens into a perfect fairyland, with throngs of gay and lively creatures frolicking and flirting about, as in the fabled isle of Calypso. The most extraordinary pranks used also to be played, to the amusement of all but the actual sufferers. The house was fitted up with strange contrivances for performing practical jokes. Beds were suspended, for instance, by pulleys over trap-doors, so that when the guests had retired after a carouse, and were just dropping asleep, they were rapidly let down into a cold bath! Another contrivance was that of partitions between sleeping rooms, which could be suddenly hoisted up into the ceiling, so that when ladies and gentlemen were retiring to rest, and had doffed all their finery, and were in various stages of undress, they were astonished to see the walls of the rooms disappear in a moment, as if by enchantment, the guests finding themselves in a miscellaneous assembly of both sexes in the oddest and most embarrassing plight imaginable.

1 comment:

  1. Good evening to all.
    It is half a century since I lived in Blyth but I remember with affection my walks to Seaton Delaval with my brother, Ian, and cousins, Billy and Raymond. It was a fair trudge but we did it often in the school holidays through the fields (not allowed today, I suppose).
    It was a place of mystery and an awesome grandeur to a young boy, a place to stare at from a distance and wonder about the grand people who lived there. I have been back once since (I now live in Cumbria) and am interested in the Border Reivers. I believe a much older, fortified building once stood on the site and would have liked to find some evidence of that but I didn't. Whatever, fond memories of my boyhood.
    Excellent article Mick.