Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Demise of Gateshead House (NZ257632)


(taken from the iSeeGateshead website – copyright expired. 
Click on image to enlarge)

In the early days of 1746, everyone south of the border with Scotland was a little agitated. Both anti-Scottish and especially anti-Jacobite sentiment was running high – well, among the protestant majority, at least. In January of that year, a few weeks before the decisive encounter at Culloden, King George II’s son, the Duke of Cumberland, marched north, passing through Gateshead and Newcastle en route.

Delayed by troublesome roads, he arrived in Gateshead at 1am on the morning of 28th January …

…  where he was welcomed by a kind of illumination which gave his royal highness great uneasiness to see. The mob having set a mansion-house, with a popish chapel within it, on fire, at that place on the occasion. The outrage is said to have proceeded from the following circumstances. The family being from home, the house, chapel, &c. were left to the care of the gardener whose name was Woodness; when the duke and his attendants were coming down, the mob being anxious to see them, several of them climbed upon the garden walls to have a better view, when the gardener afraid of his master’s property, let loose some dogs upon them which bit several who were keelmen; being exasperated, they attempted to catch the gardener, who, no doubt, would have fallen a victim to their rage. Finding the object of their fury had eluded them, they set fire to the mansion-house, &c.


The mansion in question was Gatshead House, which used to stand to the east of the present-day St.Edmund’s Church on the High Street (aka Holy Trinity). Once the property of the Riddells, a catholic family, at the time the house was torched it was the seat of the Claverings, who were related to them. The fire rendered the property uninhabitable and it fell into ruin. It was eventually demolished – and the site is now taken up by high rise flats and a major trunk road. A repositioned gateway from the house remains in the grounds of St.Edmund’s Church. 


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