Despite travelling to the North East a lot to visit family, we’d never actually really explored further than the local beach. Partially because the journey was quite long, and we never really spent enough time there, so every minute was spent with family. But when we travelled back to meet up with family on what would have been my Nana-in-law’s birthday we took the chance to nip in to a local National Trust property on the way home and I’m very glad we did.
Washington Old Hall, in the heart of Washington Village, has links to (you guessed it) George Washington, former President of America. Or maybe you didn’t guess it, I certainly didn’t. Apparently the hall was home to five generations of his ancestors.
Interesting as that was, I was more interested in its later life.
The Hall is probably one of the trusts smaller properties, but it definitely made up for it not only in the beauty of the grounds but also in the content of the property.
National Trust properties are very often stately homes that were once occupied by the elite, and though I love to see that decedent side of our history, sometimes it is interesting to see the lives of people more akin to my own ancestors.
Washington Old Hall is not just the home of George Washington’s ancestors, in more recent years it was also a tenement property. In the 1930s it housed a number of families, and one of the rooms within the hall houses a recreation of one of those rooms. I couldn’t get over just how many people were squeezed into such tiny spaces.
From a family point of view there’s no access for pushchairs apart from on the ground floor. This didn’t bother us particularly as we had the carrier too, and apparently there is also a hip carrier that you can borrow if needed. They will store the pram for you so you can collect it for use around the garden, and there’s a lift to help you access the lower parts of the garden with pram.
There is a walled garden, and a lovely tea room where Pippin and I shared an Ice Lolly whilst Daddy had a clotted cream scone. Which was just cruel frankly.
They also had a small playground, and Pippin had her first ever ride down a slide – and hated it.
My favourite part of the whole property was the Nuttery. Basically a wilderness created for wildlife and completely stunning. We spent so long just watching the tadpoles in the pond, and the bees in their insect hotel.
Pippin loved bird watching from the shelter, although she didn’t quite understand the concept of being still and quiet – I think we have some work to do before she will manage not to scare off any birds within a ten mile radius.
I really hope we will get to visit again, I’d love to go in spring and see what the Nuttery looks like then.