History of Jesmond Dene


1.0 Introduction

2.0 Study Area
2.1 Location
2.2 Boundaries of Study
2.3 Topography

3.0 Development of Jesmond
3.1 Land ownership
3.2 Map descriptions of Jesmond Dene 1769 – 1841
3.2.1 Armstrong’s map of Northumberland 1769
3.2.2 Fryer’s map of Northumberland 1820
3.2.3 Greenwood’s map of Northumberland 1828
3.2.4 1834 plan of Jesmond Grove estate

4.0 Development of Jesmond Dene
4.1 Land use before construction of Lord Armstrong’s pleasure grounds.
4.2 Stone quarry
4.3 Busy Cottage
4.4 Coal mining in Jesmond Dene
4.5 Chapel of St.Mary
4.6 Jesmond Dene springs – St.Mary’s Well
4.7 Jesmond Mill
4.8 Comment

5.0 The Landscaping of Jesmond Dene
5.1 Lord and Lady Armstrong Victorian industrialist gardeners
5.2 The ‘woodland garden’
5.3. Jesmond Dene
5.4 Jesmond Dene House a ‘woodland garden’ added to Jesmond Dene
5.6 Comment

6.0 Development of Jesmond Dene as a Municipal Park
6.1 Donation of Jesmond Dene for a public park
6.2 Additional land acquisition
6.3 Lord and Lady Armstrong benefactors to the City of Newcastle
6.4 Opening of Armstrong Park
6.5 Management regimes

7.0 Layout Design of Jesmond Dene
7.1 Map descriptions Jesmond Dene
7.2 OS 1858 – 9 edition
7.3 Plan of The Armstrong Park Newcastle upon Tyne 1884
7.4 OS 1898 edition
7.5 OS 1916 edition
7.6 OS 1941 edition
7.7 OS 1957, 1968, 1979, 1988 editions

8.0 Planting
8.1 Maturity of trees
8.2 Effects of pollution
8.3 Ground cover
8.4 Impact of the trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants 1894
8.4.1 Aucubas
8.4.2 Berberis
8.4.3 Conifers
8.4.4 Cotoneaster
8.4.5 Commemorative trees
8.4.6 Deciduous shrubs
8.4.7 Elm
8.4.8 Ericas and Callunas
8.4.9 Herbaceous plants
8.4.10 Hollies
8.4.11 Rhododendrons and Azaleas
8.4.12 Yews
8.5 Summary list of trees, shrubs and plants described in Jesmond Dene in 1894

9. Features
9.1 Landscape Features
9.1.2 Colman’s Field
9.1.3 Grottos
9.1.4 Pet’s corner
9.1.5 Quarry Garden
9.1.6 Recreation field
9.2 Water Features
9.2.1 Boating Lake
9.2.2 Cascades
9.2.3 Waterfall
9.3 Buildings
9.3.1 Banqueting Hall (listed Grade II)
9.3.2 Castle Farm
9.3.3 Crag Hall
9.3.4 Davison’s Mill
9.3.5 Gatehouse to Banqueting Hall (listed Grade II)
9.3.6 Glasshouses
9.3.7 Heaton Dene House
9.3.8 High Heaton Farm
9.3.9 Jesmond Dene House (listed Grade II)
9.3.10 Jesmond Dene Mill
9.3.11 Jesmond Park
9.3.12 Jesmond Towers (listed Grade II)
9.3.13 Lodges High South Lodge, North West Lodge, North Lodge & South Lodge
9.3.14 St. Mary’s Chapel (listed Grade II*)
9.3.15 St. Mary’s Well (Scheduled Ancient Monument)
9.3.16 Stotes Hall
9.4.0 Bridges
9.4.1 Armstrong Bridge (listed Grade II)
9.4.2 Castle Farm Bridge (listed Grade II)
9.4.3 Bridge to west of Jesmond Dene Mill (listed Grade II)
9.4.4 Footbridge north east of Banqueting Hall (listed Grade II)
9.4.5 Footbridge crossing the Ouseburn south of Red Walk (listed Grade II)
9.4.6 Other footbridges
9.5 Furnishings
9.6 Roads and Drives
9.7 Sports facilities

10.0 Use of Jesmond Dene

11.0 Comment

12.0 Appendices

Location map of views
in historic photographs

Contemporary photographs
Location map of views in contemporary


13.0 Sources
Published Sources

Sweet Jesmond Dene

O, Jesmond Dene! sweet Jesmond Dene!
Fair art thou in thy dress of green!
Thy flowery banks and walks between
Are sylvan beauties,
Jesmond Dene

Thy brook that runs
with murmuring sound,

Thy leafy
glen so peaceful found, Thy wells, thy ruin,

Win heart to thee,
sweet Jesmond Dene,

The bridges
that throw o’er thy stream

span of rustic arch and beam,

Recall to mind some fairy dream,
It must be thine, sweet Jesmond Dene.

T.J. Warby c.1890

Jesmond Dene

Thou fair lovely den, with thy rippling burn,
Surpassing in beauty at every turn,
Thy forest of verdure
in serried ranks,

Thy meandering
walks and thy flowery banks,

where shall Elysian glades be found

To rival thy valley, oh Jesumound?
Oh for a Wordsworth! Oh for a Scott!
To give thee a voice, thou beautiful

J. Horsley


Newcastle upon



Leisure Services Department
Newcastle City Council

by Fiona Green

Archival Sources

Brian Darke Personal collection of

FOJD Friends of
Jesmond Dene

NCL&A Newcastle
City Libraries and Arts

TWA Tyne & Wear Archives


City Library : Seymour Bell Collection Folio 12 – Jesmond no.15

Armstrong’s map of Northumberland 1769
Fryer’s map of Northumberland 1820
Greenwood’s map of Northumberland 1828
1834 plan of Jesmond Grove estate
OS 1858 – 9 edition 25″ scale
Plan of The Armstrong Park Newcastle upon Tyne 1884
OS 1898 edition 25″ scale
OS 1916 edition 25″ scale
OS 1941 edition 25″ scale
OS 1957 edition 1: 10,000 scale
OS 1968 edition 1: 10,000 scale
OS 1979 edition 1: 10,000 scale
OS 1988 edition 1: 10,000 scale


Tyne & Wear Archives – Armstrong Papers

DF/A/7/1 – 24 Personal and Family none re-Jesmond Dene.

DF/A/7 – 8 Letter from Hilborough ‘Ogles Nursery’ re. plants for Cragside 1884

DF/A/11/1 Letters Lord Armstrong to Lady Armstrong April – May 1843
about fishing
DF/A/11/ 2 – 7 Letters Lord Armstrong to Lady Armstrong 1845 – 1852
nothing on the gardens
DF/A/11/ 8 – 11 Letters
Lord Armstrong to Lady Armstrong 1853 – 1856

nothing on the gardens
DF/A/12 Letters to Lady Armstrong from various

Personal, no refs. to

DF/A/11/24 Letters Lord
Armstrong to Lady Armstrong 1874 – 1879

Pre-occupied with his own interests, nothing on

Guide books
Official Guide to Newcastle upon Tyne Oliver 7th ed.

Craigside July 1870 p.398
Gardener’s Chronicle Cragside September 11 1880

Public Parks at Newcastle June 16 1894
Busy Cottage Ironworks Friends of Jesmond Dene Newsletter September 1990 no.27

Daily Journal 4.9.1893

Daily Journal 21.8.1884

Dene in 1825
by Robert Gilchrist
a local poet. Newspaper Cuttings relating to Newcastle Vol 2.p.59

Jesmond Dene Grounds given to
the Public
9.2.1883 Local
Newspaper Cuttings Vol.63 p.117

Jesmond Dene Newcastle, Complete Control vested in the
Local Newspaper
Cuttings Vol.59 B p.259

The Old
Mill Jesmond
Newspaper Cuttings
relating to Newcastle Vol 2.p.58

Dene Mill to be a controlled ruin Evening Chronicle 30.9.1981
When does forever come to an end? Newcastle Journal 13.6.1970
The Cherry Bridge Newspaper Cuttings relating to Newcastle V2.

Cuttings -Newcastle City Library
Local Characters of Some Importance Paddy
Local Historical Items
V21 p.111

Newcastle City Library

Published sources

Brand,J History
and Antiquities of the town and county of Newcastle upon Tyne
B. White & Son

Bourne, H. The
History of Newcastle upon Tyne and the Ancient and Present state of
that town
. (1736) Newcastle upon

Bruce, Rev. JC
Handbook to Newcastle upon Tyne

Charleton, R.J. A History of Newcastle upon Tyne from the earliest record to
it’s foundation as a City.

Dendy, F.W. An Account of Jesmond.(1904) Archaelogia Aeliana 3 Series. Vol

Dixon,H Cragside – Northumberland National Trust 1992

Dodds,MH A History of

Donald, J Not just bricks and mortar

Dougan David, The Great Gun Maker – The story of Lord
Frank Graham

Gray, W Chorographia or
Survey of Newcastle upon Tyne
1649 reprint 1970
Mackenzie,E A descriptive
and historical account of the town and county of Newcastlen upon
2. vols Mackenzie and Dent

Meadows, P Lost Houses of Northumberland and


Tyne City Libraries

Newcastle City Jesmond Dene

Reid, Andrew Record of the
Royal Visit – Jesmond Dene
compiled by Town Clerk Newcastle 1884

Robinson, William English Flower Garden London 1899

Sheeran, G
Landscape Gardens in West

Wilson, J
Uses and Beauties of Trees

Young, M Jesmond
Newcastle Life

Photographs – Newcastle City

Title Date Acc.
no. Neg.no.

n.d. 6182 none

Stepping stones
n.d. 66183 none

Stepping stone
n.d. 66019 none


Gen. view n.d.
66186 (colour) none

Copy of
etching n.d. 8821 13/8/89


Copy of w.colour
1820 3687 13/12/82

of Dene 1834 40202 1/10/83

Painting of J. Mill 1861 44206 22.8.83
by Jane Bewick (colour)
daughter of
Thomas Bewick

view Mill 1888 56676 none

Mill House c.1890
40053 none

Swan pool c.1890
5361 11/5/89


Photgraphic Society
visit c.1895 44183 15/6/83


Planting detail c.1900 10129

Planting detail c.1900
46462 pl.no 9418

Path/planting detail c.1900 33070 2/10.83
pl.no. 8670/B414
Planting detail c.1910 30289 pl.no. 6521/B413

Planting detail 37557 L30
shrubs/open area
Planting /
ferns c.1910 29677 pl.no. 5955/B399

Waterside planting c.1900 37460 82/10/92

Herbaceous planting c.1930 30340


keepers c.1900 37676 L105

J.Dene view to c.1900 2977 none

Deep Dene 53707


Waterfall and
rocks c.1910 15605 13/12/82

Rustic Bridge 1930(?) 30344 6/10/83
pl.no/ 3948/B392

Entrance gates c.1930 21328 none

Lodge c.1930 2978 none

Grassed area 56653 none

Grassed area 1981 49633 none

Entrance tunnel 1971 41484 none
Concert 1984 46263 none


Jesmond Dene is registered by English Heritage as
an Historic Park of Special Historic Interest in England Grade


Banqueting Hall Grade

Jesmond Dene House Grade

Jesmond Towers Grade

St. Mary’s Chapel Grade II*
Scheduled Ancient Monument

Mary’s Well Grade II Scheduled Ancient Monument

Armstrong Bridge Grade II
Castle Farm Bridge Grade II
Bridge to west of Jesmond Dene Mill Grade

Footbridge north east of
Banqueting Hall Grade II

Footbridge crossing the Ouseburn south of
Red Walk Grade II

Sites and Monumnets Record
Food Vessels from Crag Hall no.360
? cremation in food vessels from Crag Hall no.361
2 cists from Crag Hall no.147
Heaton Water Mill no.1402
St. Mary’s Chapel

St. Mary’s Well no.146
Site of Stotes Hall

Benton Bridge


Brian Darke Park
Keeper, Heaton Park, Newcastle City Council

Friends of Jesmond Dene Archives
Andrew Sawyer National Trust, Head Gardener,

Tyne & Wear Archives
County Archives

Newcastle City
Libraries & Arts Local Studies Section

Northumberland Record Office County

Dr. Tom Yellowley
Personal archives

1.0 Introduction

The research was commissioned by Community and Leisure
Services, Newcastle City Council in preparation for a feasibility
study prior to making a bid to the National Heritage Memorial Fund
Urban Parks Programme.

The first
part of the study covers three adjoining areas used for recreation;
Armstrong Park, Heaton Park and Jesmond Vale. This research covers
Jesmond Dene which is part of the north section of the valley and is
divided from the parks at the southern end by a road, Benton Bank..
The interlinked parks form a linear green spine north east of the
City of Newcastle upon Tyne. The study area is in a valley which is
divided by the River Ouseburn an area used for public recreation to
varying degrees for over a century. Heaton Park was formed after
Newcastle City Council purchased part of Heaton Hall estate in 1879.
The same year Sir W.G Armstrong donated a large area of adjacent
land which became Armstrong Park. In 1883 Sir W.G Armstrong offered
Jesmond Dene, the landscaped grounds to his house, to Newcastle City
and this was incorporated with Armstrong Park. In the meantime the
fields in Jesmond Vale were used informally for recreation and
purchased in degrees by the City Council.

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2.0 Study Area

study area extends in a narrow band from Armstrong Bridge at the
south to Dene Bridge at the north end. The area is covered on
Ordnance Survey Sheet NZ 26 NE 1:10,000


Jesmond Dene is
almost two miles north east from the centre of Newcastle. The river
Ouseburn a tributary to the Tyne flows through the dene and
particularly during the 18th century, provided power for various
mills. However, coal mining appears to have been a more lucrative
activity in the area and there were numerous mines. Jesmond, which
is approximately half a mile west of Jesmond Dene developed when it
became a fashionable area for wealthy industrialists to live.

Boundaries of Study

Dene is a steeply sided dene which is bordered by housing
development. On the west the suburbs of Jesmond abut Jesmond Dene
Road which runs along the entire boundary. The east of the dene
forms a boundary to the back gardens of the residential areas of
north Heaton. The recreation ground Paddy Freeman’s fields is on
higher ground and is adjacent to extensive playing fields with rough
pasture directly to the north. The north end of Jesmond Dene is
narrow and crossed by Haddricksmill Bridge.

2.3 Topography
As with the study of Heaton and Armstrong Parks
and Jesmond Vale, Jesmond Dene is part of the OuseburnBreeze,A
A Celtic Etymology for ‘Ouseburn’,
Archaeologia Aeliana 5th
Series, Vol XXVI valley which is a dene formed by the Ouseburn, a
glacial stream which came from Callerton Fell near Ponteland.
Jesmond Dene is considerably narrower than the public park to the
south and the sides of the valley are steep.

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3.0 Development of Jesmond

The earliest known human activity in Jesmond Dene
was revealed by the discovery in 1844 of two small prehistoric
burial chambers in the garden of Crag Hall. The chambers contained
vessels one of which held human remains. Apart from coal mining in
the area most of the land in Jesmond was used for pasture before the
fast rise in requirement for housing engulfed the village in the mid
19th century.

3.1 Land ownership
1272 Adam de Jesmont was recorded as holding Jesmond in the barony
of Gaugy. By 1545 King Edward VI (d.1553) had granted the Newcastle
priory of nuns and lands in Jesmond to Sir William Barintine. The
land ownership was divided over subsequent years between various
parties. The Ord family owned parts of Jesmond and in 1669 Sir
Francis Anderson with others sold lands to William Coulson.
Coulson’s family retained property in the area until 1808 when the
estates were dispersed among John Anderson and others.

At the beginning of the 19th
century, agricultural land in Jesmond became valuable building land
as it was so close to the city. Consequently the wealthy residential
suburb of Jesmond developed rapidly. In 1815 part of the Warwick
estate was sold; Chance Field on which Jesmond Dean, Lord
Armstrong’s house, was built and Little Close where Jesmond Grove
and the ruins of St. Mary’s chapel stand. Other notable properties
which arose were Villa Real (later Sandyford Park) built 1817 and
Black Dene House (later Jesmond Dene House) built

The land where Busy Cottage
was located belonged to Sir Matthew Ridley White Ridley until c.1860
when it was purchased by Armstrong to form part of the landscaped
grounds to complement ‘Jesmond Dean’.

3.2 Map Descriptions of Jesmond
1769 –

3.2.1 Armstrong’s map of Northumberland

The ‘Ewesburn’ is shown
running around the northern edge of ‘Gofforth’ before taking a route
due south. It winds through a tree covered valley to the east of
Jesmond and Sandyford
before joining the Tyne to the
west of ‘Biker’ about a mile to the east of Newcastle.

Within the Jesmond area, ‘Stot
Hall’, the residence of Coulson Esq., is shown to the west of the
dene and Busy Cottage is indicated to the east. Heaton Hall, the
residence of Ridley Esq. is about half a mile downstream from the
lane which runs between Sandyford and Benton.

Fryer’s map of Northumberland 1820

The map reflects the increase in mining activity around
Newcastle at this time with Heaton High Pit and a colliery near
Jesmond both indicated in proximity to the dene. A path runs
adjacent to the Ouseburn, starting on the west side at Haddrick’s
Mill then soon after crossing the burn to run along the east side,
joining the lane between Sandyford and Benton immediately to the
south of Busy Cottage.

3.2.3 Greenwood’s map of Northumberland

The majority of Jesmond
Dene is defined by woodland with open land in the region of Colman’s
Field. The location of sites is somewhat arbitrary but the Tea
Gardens, Iron Foundry and Busy Cottage are shown.

1834 plan of Jesmond
Grove Estate
N.C.L. Seymour Bell Folio 12 – Jesmond

This shows a small section of Jesmond Dene.
Jesmond Grove estate is located adjacent to the western bank of the
Ouseburn. A road runs through the area bounded by a wedge of
woodland which runs between it and the Ouseburn. There are two
cottages and a public house with tea gardens fronting onto the burn.
A footpath is shown on the opposite bank of the Ouseburn suggesting
that there might have been a crossing to the public house. A drive
leads from the road through gates to Jesmond Grove, a substantial
residence. The pleasure ground gardens are located to the west of
the house and St. Mary’s Chapel ruins in woodland immediately to the
east. Chance Field, the future site for the construction of Jesmond
Dean, Sir William Armstrong’s home, is shown to north.

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4.0 Development of Jesmond

4.1. Land use before construction of pleasure

Mackenzie describes
Jesmond Dene in 1825 as offering rural beauties to which the local
community would resort for walks on summer evenings and he stated
that John Anderson had
formed some
new plantations that add much to its appearance
at his residence Jesmond House (gazetteer 1).
Mackenzie also mentioned recently planted woodland at ‘West Jesmond’
2 ) , the property of Sir Thomas Burdon. (see

Stone quarry

A deserted quarry
is located at the north of Jesmond Dene below sandstone cliffs
called Blackberry Crag (gazetteer3). The quarry was not commented on
by local historians such as Bourne and Mackenzie and seems to have
been abandoned before their time.

4.3 Busy Cottage
The Newcastle Directory of 1778 records an
ironmonger called Thomas Menham at The Close. In 1790 Whitehead’s
directory records Thomas Menham, Iron and Brass Foundry, Busy
Cottage (gazetteer 4). However Menham died that year and an
advertisement in the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle provides a good
impression of the property
Cottage Forge and Foundry to be sold to the highest bidder – all
that valuable forge and foundry known by the name of Busy Cottage –
there is a good dwelling house, brew house, cold bath, several
houses for workmen and a garden well planted with fruit treesBusy
Cottage Ironworks
JDW Livingstone
Jesmond Dene Newsletter – September 1990 no.27 p.4

By 1801
the foundry was recorded as being run by the Sorsbie family who had
previous connections with iron founding in Sheffieldibid.
Livingstone. In 1824 the lease of Busy Cottage was taken by Robert
Rayne and his company in partnership with David Burn expanded
considerably, probably making articles for collieries. They may have
been responsible for a small bridge which carried the Tanfield
Railway over Causey Burn which is inscribed
Rayne and Burn 1848 Newcastle. A painting in 1832 by T.M. Richardson shows a view of ‘Busy
Cottage Ironworks’ with a number of chimneys smoking through the
trees bearing witness to the thriving industry which by 1855 was in
decline. The mill was shown on the 1858 OS as a cornmill.

The small settlement of Busy
Cottage was referred to in 1825 by Mackenzie
At a short distance above Benton-Bridge, and on the north
side of the burn, lies the small, pleasant village called Busy
Cottage, enclosed on each side by steep and lofty banks. Here is an
iron forge and rolling-mill, carried on by Mr.Robert Raine. The
beauty of this place; has been augmented by the late Mr. Dewar’s new
and extensive tea and fruit gardens. This parcel of ground, which
Mr. Dewar purchased with the savings of industry, affords an
honourable proof of skill and labour. An unseemly pit-heap, which
covered part of the ground, was removed, and the whole brought into
a surprising state of order and fruitfulness, producing an abundance
of delicious fruits for the refreshment of numerous parties who
visit this delightful spot. At the east end of the garden Mr. Dewar
erected a convenient house, for the entertainment of company. The
interior is neatly fitted up, and commands a most delightful
prospect of Heaton, seated amidst an amphitheatre of wood, and of
the meanderings of the Ouse Burn; while, on the other hand, the town
of Newcastle, Fenham, the moor, and the adjoining village,
constitute one of the pleasantest views imaginable.
(see fig.2)

Coal mining In Jesmond Dene

The plan of Heaton
with the old pits & coC18th (no date). NRO ZR1 50 / 9 shows the sites of pits from Heaton up to up to the north of
Jesmond Dene at Cragg Hall Pit
Heaton and Armstrong Parks and
Jesmond Vale, Newcastle upon Tyne.
1997. There were numerous
references to coal pits in Jesmond as illustrated by the following
entry On 8 May 1725, on the journey of Lord Harley, afterwards
second Earl of Oxford, (through Northumberland, rode a little out of
the direct road to Morpeth to see his estate about Jesmond where
there are several collieries
Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries 3rd series Vol.X

4.5 Chapel of St.

(listed Grade

The chapel of St. Mary is
located on a mound which was divided from Jesmond Dene by a smaller
dene, Moor Crook Letch (gazetteer 5). The chapel is thought to have
been built during the twelfth century by the Grenvilles who were
landowners in Jesmond. They may have brought back holy relics from
the crusades which were displayed at the chapel. This is suggested
by Gray who stated
Pilgrim-Street-Gate ; so called because of pilgrims lodging
in that street and went out of that gate to the shrine of the Virgin
Mary at Gesmond; to which place, with great confidence and devotion,
people came from all parts of this land, in the time of
Gray’s Chorographia p.7. The shrine was also
mentioned in the will of a rector in Yorkshire who made provision
for pilgrims to travel after his death to a number of holy places
including the Blessed Mary of Jesmownt
cited Dendy Test.Ebor.,
45 Surtees Society, p.201.
The first
known reference to the building came in 1272 when a cleric Robert
Sautmareis and three accomplices attacked a merchant in Newcastle
and were later jailed. The men were rescued and one, Robert de
Virili, was hidden at Jesmond chapel before being taken to sanctuary
at Tynemouth Dendy, F.W.
An Account of
Jesmond. (1904
) Archaelogia Aeliana 3
Series. Vol.1 .

The chapel was
inherited in 1333 by three daughters of Richard Emeldon. However,
claims to the ‘living’ of the chapel were contentious for many years
until Edward III demanded an inquisition to clarify ownership in
1364 and required that the result was recorded in Chancery. In 1483
Richard II presented the chapel to Dr. Roby and by 1526 it was
presented to William Weldon who was incumbent when the chapel was
dissolved in 1548. The certificate of dissolved chantry reveals the
status of the chapel at the time
Free Chapell of Our Lady of Jesmonde within the sayd Parishe of
Seint Androwe. [Blank] Welton, Incumbent, who is not resident there,
nor no Devyne service used, being in distance from the parishe
churche Is.. myles and more. Noe landes, &c. solde, &c.
[since 1537]
. Plate, none. Goodes, nonecited Dendy 22 Surtees Society, App.7, p.lxxxii. By 1575 the chapel was in the possession of
William Brandling
cited Dendy
Court of Wards, Misc. Books,
vol. cclxxxvii.folio 96.
Proceedings of Newcastle Corporation recorded in 1883 that by 1815
the land belonged to Mr. James Losh and it was subsequently acquired
by Messrs. Anderson who sold it to Mr. William George Armstrong
(later the first Lord Armstrong). In 1883 when the land was given to
Newcastle upon Tyne the chapel was linked to the Banqueting Hall by
a subway through a shrubbery.

There are also references to a hospital near the chapel
although it seems to have been a small building at the time of
Bourne (1736). In 1825 Robert Gilchrist wrote
We stopped to look at the ancient monastery, which
is deservedly held sacred in the memory of those who erected so fair
a monument of their piety and munificences. Near to the monastery is
a fine well of water, as which it is said (with great probability)
Joseph of Aramathea once took a drink, and declared the water to be
excellent. From this period the well became a place of pilgrimage,
and hence the erection of the monastery. Close to the well is a bath
which goes down with twelve steps (being the number of the
Apostles). Tradition says that on the bath being formed the water
ceased to flow
The bath was built as a
garden feature by Mr. Coulson when he owned the land during the 18th
century (Dendy).
. The vulgar
attribute this to a wrong use being made of the water, and, of
course, the bath fell into disuse and neglect. Whatever truth there
may be in the foregoing narrative, one thing is certain, that the
water is truly “excellent” and the enchanting situation in which it
is placed entitles it to a pilgrimage even at this dayJesmond Dene
in 1825
Newspaper Cuttings relating
to Newcastle Vol. 2.p.59

In 1929 the
Council took action with His Majesty’s Commissioner of Works to take
steps under the Ancient Monuments Act to ensure preservation of the
well due to the development of housing in the vicinityProceedings of
Newcastle City Council 23.1.1929. The site of the well was
designated as an ancient monument in 1932 and was excavated in

Today (1999) a service is held annually in the
chapel and the building is decorated with candles and flowers by
local residents.
(see fig. 38 )

Jesmond Dene Springs
– St. Mary’s

In 1827 three springs
were described in the vicinity of St.Mary’s ChapelMackenzie, E
History of Newcastle 1827 (gazetteer 6) . One was located between
Jesmond Manor House and Jesmond Grove and called St. Mary’s Well.
Another was found behind an entrance lodge to Jesmond Grove and this
was accessible to the public through a tunnel under Jesmond Dene
Road. The third was below the walls of the chapel and thought to be
the original St. Mary’s well.

Brand noted in 1789Brand 1789 Vol.1 p.620-621 that
St. Mary’s Well was enclosed by Mr. Coulson who made a
bathing place in
the well, whereupon the water was said to have stopped flowing
The well was always esteemed more
sanctity than common wells, and therefore the failing of the water
could be looked upon as nothing less that a just revenge for so
great a profanation. But alas! The miracle’s at an end, for the
water returned a while ago in as great abundance as

Jesmond Dene Mill

(listed Grade

Referred to variously as
Old Mill, Jesmond Mill, the building was titled Heaton Mill on the
1858 OS. The mill is located on the north side of the Ouseburn and
is thought to have existed since the 13th century (gazetteer 7). The
mill was taken over in 1795 by a family of millers called Freeman
from Gateshead. Patrick Freeman was recorded as a tenant farmer of
Sir Matthew White Ridley in directories of the 1820s and 1830s.
Patrick Freeman I is thought to have died c.1840 as by 1841 the
census shows the mill was occupied by a Patrick Freeman who was 20.
The name of the millers may have inspired the naming of the Paddy
Freeman fields.

In 1856 local
directories show that the mill was worked by Mr. Pigg who used it to
make a type of pig feed called pollards from spoilt grain. By 1857
the next lesee Charlton, adapted the building as a flint mill
providing flint for a pottery downstream. The mill was sold to Sir
William Armstrong who did not work it. The Freemans were recorded
farming in the area until 1871
Characters of Some Importance
Livingstone n.d. Local Historical Items V21 p111.

In 1899 the Parks Committee
received a letter raising concerns regarding the condition of mill
wheel at old mill at north end of dene. It was suggested that it
should be
repaired and that if a
water run was restored it would be even better26.6.1899 TWA MD/NC
144 / 2 . In 1981 Newcastle City Council arrived at a decision that
the mill should be administered as a controlled ruinEvening
Chronicle 30.9.1981. (see figs.3 – 6)

4.8 Comment
Once coal mining decreased in Jesmond Dene the mills were the
only industry in evidence. The dene appears to have been adopted as
a pleasant place for walking by 1825 when it was visited by Robert
… This valley can boast
some of the finest scenery in the North of England, being most
delightlfully diversified with wood and water, forming some
beautiful walks….Jesmond Dene in 1825
Newspaper Cuttings relating to Newcastle Vol 2.p.59
. The steep terrain was unsuitable
for housebuilding and this ensured the preservation of the dene
until it was enhanced as Lord Armstrong’s pleasure grounds before it
became a public park.

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5.0 The Landscaping of Jesmond

Lord and Lady Armstrong Victorian industrialist

Sir William George
Armstrong (1810 – 1900) was born in Shieldfield, Newcastle upon
Tyne. He was the son a corn merchant and was trained as a solicitor
before developing his interests as an inventor. His first
significant invention was a hydraulic crane then he began working on
water driven electric generators. His career as an armament
manufacturer grew with the introduction of the Armstrong Field Gun.
(see fig.7)

In 1835 Armstrong
married Margaret Ramshaw (1807 – 93) from Bishop Auckland, Co.
Durham. (see fig.8) Their house, Jesmond Dean (demolished c.1930),
was built the year of their marriage but the name of the architect
has not come to light (gazetteer 8). Once installed in the new
property the Armstrongs purchased parcels of land along an area
later called Jesmond Dene and extended the pleasure grounds to their
house, Jesmond Dean. On completion of the land acquisitions they
owned a large proportion of Jesmond Dene with the north end bordered
by the gardens of Jesmond Dene House and the south defined by Benton
BankArmstrong was left land by Armourer Donkin south of Benton Bank
in 1857 T&W Archives 170/1/1 and over the next ten years
Armstrong purchased much of the White Ridley Estate 170/1/1 -68 .

The legendary figure of Lord
Armstrong dominates documentation of their occupation of Jesmond
Dean and Cragside. It is apparent from his letters to Margaret that
he spent a vast amount of time away from homeTWA/DF/A/11 . Although
he made numerous references to his hobbies such as collecting art,
fishing and other domestic matters he did not discuss gardening with
her in correspondence. Lady Armstrong’s role as a Victorian wife
appears to have kept her character shrouded in mystery as there are
few revelations about her private interests.

However, there are references to her involvement
with the management of laying out the pleasure grounds at Jesmond
Dene and Cragside and to her correspondence with Mackenzie &
Moncur of Edinburgh regarding glasshouses for CragsideDixon, H
Cragside – Northumberland
National Trust 1992. Her obituary in
the Newcastle Daily Journal provides an invaluable insight of her
It is well known that the
planting and landscape gardening of Jesmond Dene, which, since it
has been munificently made over to the people of Newcastle, will
remain as a lasting monument of the donor, engaged a large share of
Lady Armstrong’s time and taste. It was the same with Cragside. The
idea which runs through them both, that of making art the handmaid
of nature, and preserving the wild contour and the natural condition
of the arboreal and floral garniture of the place was thoroughly
understood by Lady Armstrong and was worked out largely by her
original mind. She was an enthusiastic botanist; and it is perhaps
not generally known that numerous specimens of rare local and
British plants which are to be found at Cragside, have been
collected by her own hand or procured by her as the result of
researches which she set on foot
Newcastle Daily Journal 4.9.1893

From the
description above it is apparent that Lady Armstrong was following
the style of the ‘woodland garden’ an approach also evident at
Whinney House, Gateshead where the grounds were laid out following
advice from her friend John HancockWHINNEY HOUSE REF. & LEAZES.
Another influential figure who would have been of her acquaintance
during the construction of the Banqueting House (1864), was the
architect John Dobson (1787 – 1854), who was also known as a
landscape designerOne of his most accomplished landscape schemes was
nearby at Jesmond Cemetery (1834)..

5.2 The ‘woodland

The evolution of the
‘woodland garden’ occurred during the mid 19th century. However, the
bones of the style came from the ‘Picturesque’ movement which was at
a peak at the end of the 18th century. Belsay Quarry Garden
(c.1806), in Northumberland, is thought to be one of the best
examples of a garden made during the Picturesque movement and
embodies a landscape enhanced to look wild and far more dramatic
than the style which was previously in favour i.e. the smooth and
undulating landscapes produced by designers such as

The accelerating social
changes which occurred during the 19th century had far reaching
consequences and two in particular affected garden design of the
period. Firstly the expansion of large suburban houses for
industrialists who needed to live near their businesses and secondly
the opportunity for the middle classes to develop personal aesthetic
tastes which were not dictated by the gentry. The woodland garden
developed from both these factors.

Many of the newly emergent wealthy industrialists required
accommodation within proximity of their factories and developed
suburban villas with ‘mini-estates’. However, as the new landscaped
gardens were close to other houses and industries and not in the
open rolling countryside the dynamics of these gardens changed.
There was a requirement for privacy with the judicious screening of
unwanted views, at the same time there was a necessity for grandiose
display of gardening ‘a la mode’ and the provision of an appropriate
setting for the house. For these reasons a typical northern
landscape feature ‘the dene’ was of great value to such gardens
offering both privacy and a dramatic terrain. Examples of the
inclusion of denes as part of pleasure grounds can be found at
Whinney House in Gateshead, Tyne & Wear and Castle Eden Dene in
Co. Durham.

The freedom to
experiment with aesthetic choices resulted in a rich variety of
differing styles which so epitomised architecture and other design
of the era. Victorian Gothic revival country houses were built in
stark contrast to the tranquil classical facades complemented by a
pastoral landscape. The newly romanticised architecture required a
dramatic setting and the natural topography of an estate was
appropriated and enhanced with woodland and exotic plantings. The
Gothic aesthetic was partly developed through literature with the
adoption of writers such as Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832). Scott’s
romantic descriptions of the dramatic Scottish landscape in works
such as
The Lady of the
were immensely popular. This
coincided with an increased national interest in the landscape of
Scotland particularly in view of the newly founded royal association
with Balmoral.

The ‘woodland
garden’ developed into a style which was characterised by the
adoption and sometimes creation of denes which were renamed ‘glens’A
postcard of Jesmond Dene is titled Jesmond Glen (fig.9 ) . The
steeper and craggier the sides of a dene were, the better. In some
cases the ‘dene’ was embellished with artificial features such as
rock work crags as at Whinney House, Gateshead.

mature woodland was also advantageous as it provided immediate
privacy. Tall trees such as beech and fastigiate species such as
Lawson’s Cypress accentuated the depth of the dene. Much of the
planting was dominated by the use of native species, particularly
any with Scottish associations, such as birch, heathers and bracken.

Nationally, Cragside is
probably unsurpassed as a ‘woodland garden’. These pleasure grounds
were created by Lord and Lady Armstrong’s at Rothbury in
Northumberland from c.1863. So great was their desire to see their
vision built that Lady Armstrong is said to have paid locals to
carry buckets of earth up to the tops of the slopesDixon, H
Cragside – Northumberland
National Trust 1992 p.74. Seven
million trees and shrubs were planted across almost 2,000 acres of
the estate and the immensity of the scheme is staggering. Jesmond
Dene and Cragside are outstanding examples of this particular garden
aesthetic. Examples in other parts of the country can be found at
Dob Royd Castle, Todmorden which was laid out by Edward Kemp and
Crag Wood at Rawdon, Bradford.

5.3 Jesmond Dene.
Armstrong’s pleasure grounds quickly became the focus of the
attention of local writers. Through their descriptions the
transformation of the landscape becomes apparent. In 1863 Bruce
The gardens attached to the
house present several features of interest, and the whole of the
dean in front of the mansion is beginning to assume those charms
which art can lend to a spot naturally so beautiful
Bruce Rev. JC Handbook to Newcastle upon Tyne 1863.

Andrew Reid, the Town Clerk summarised the
development of Jesmond Dene by the time Lord and Lady Armstrong
donated the park to the public in 1884.
The full significance
of Sir William’s bountiful gifts of
the Park and Dene can only be rightly appreciated by those who were
familiar with the locality five and twenty years ago. The
transformation on the mimic stage, from the barren island to the
fairy realms of boundless bliss, is not more complete. The Dene
which is now the Eye, as the broad acres of the Town Moor are the
Lungs, of Newcastle, was a wild straggling valley, through which a
little streamlet, the Ouseburn, fringed by a thin line of stunted
wood, and a tangled undergrowth of bramble and bracken, wandered in
search of the Tyne. Sir William purchased the property, planted it
with thousands of trees, shrubs, and flowers, laid down broad walks,
built rustic bridges and rockeries, trapped the rivulet into
waterfalls, worked into the landscape a watermill of the past
generation, erected a sumptuous Banqueting Hall and then gave the
whole of it, as he had previously done several adjoining acres, to
the people of Newcastle foreverRecord of the Royal Visit – Jesmond
compiled by Town Clerk Newcastle
Andrew Reid 1884

The local Monthly Chronicle published their
appreciation in 1888,
The Jesmond
Dene section of the park, is now entered from the level of Benton
Bridge, by a new gate, as well as by the old doorway, down in the
valley, and from the beginning to end it is a continual feast to the
eye, fresh beauties appearing at every step. A mere descriptive
catalogue of the various plants here to be found would form a large
and interesting volume. Rare foreign shrubs and heaths and flowers
planted in abundance, and the very display of native foliage. Where
possible the original timber has been allowed to remain, and the
hanging woods on either side of the burn, in the upper reaches, are
perhaps the finest feature of the whole place. Good solid footpaths
have been formed along the bottom of the valley and partly along the
upper heights. From the latter glimpses can be caught at intervals,
between the trees of the valley beneath. There is one gap through
which we look down on a scene of singular beauty. In the distance we
see trees of the opposite bank which close the view in that
direction, and rising from beyond the turrets of Jesmond Towers, the
residence of Mr. Charles Mitchell, a member of the world-famous firm
of Armstrong Mitchell & Co. Nearer at hand is the picturesque
mansion of another member of the same firm, Captain Noble, and
nearer still yet far down below us runs the burn. We see it as it
forms a series of cascades, running beneath a rugged stone bridge,
and then rushing through its narrow channel among huge masses of
rock. By its margin stands the Old Mill, with its huge wooden water
wheel, now stopped for good, and its red tiled roof no longer
covering a little scene of industry, but spared from destruction
only as a pleasant and picturesque object in the landscape.

Considerably further downstream,
and to be reached by descending and retracing our steps along the
opposite bank, is the Banqueting Hall, included by Lord Armstrong in
his gift of the park. It is a commodious hall, adorned with statuary
and pictures, and convenient for holding public entertainments. Near
it is to be seen the tree planted by the Princess of
The tree was provided by Messrs.
W. Fell of Hexham
. Reid, A Record of
the Royal Visit
, when she, together with the
Prince of Wales, opened Jesmond Dene in 1884, and formally handed
over to Newcastle this princely gift of her foremost citizen and
most munificent benefactor
Chronicle July 1888 p.311 – 316

By 1894 Lord and Lady
Armstrong’s pleasure grounds had matured and the
Gardener’s Chronicle sent a correspondent to inspect Jesmond Dene as a public
park. The article began with a summary,
It is not only the finest piece of ornamental planting about
Newcastle, but it will vie with the best attempts in that way
anywhere. The site is admirable, having amphitheatre like slopes on
either side, running a good mile long from end to end, and in the
hollow the Ouseburn runs, bridged over at convenient distances for
public promenading. It is amply provided with spacious walks, and
the whole is in an admirable state of keep
The Gardeners’ Chronicle June 16 1894 p.748. (see fig.10)

Jesmond Dene House a ‘woodland garden’ added to Jesmond

The landscaping of an
additional length of Jesmond Dene, in the northern section, which
was acquired by Newcastle City Council during the 1930s is now an
integral part of the dene.

Although very similar in style,
and today the difference is imperceptible, the north end of the dene
was laid out for Jesmond Dene House (1898 OS) (see figs.11,12). The
gardens include a superb romantic spot were the river bed is
sheltered by steep sandstone banks framing a view of Dean Bridge.
Nearby a tunnel leads through to a quarry garden below Blackberry


The views in Jesmond
Dene were designed to make full appreciation of any prominent
features. Firstly the natural terrain of the dene provided the
requisite conditions for the display of ‘hanging woods’ with the
high steep cliffs offering a superb dramatic summit which contained
the landscape. The floor of the valley and routes to the top were
used to provide vantage points from which the landscape could be
observed. Apparently natural breaks in the planting framed views
down to the Ouseburn and cascades or across to features such as the
theatrical roofline of Jesmond Towers.

The setting for the water mill was enhanced to include a
spectacular artificial waterfall set in a monumental range of
naturalistic stonework with adjacent grotto. The visitor could
disappear into the depths of the grotto and experience the contrast
of almost subterranean depths with associated planting of ferns
framed by dark and menacing evergreen planting above on ground

An unusual addition to the
prospect was the addition of Armstrong Bridge, brazenly spanning the
skyline and providing an icon of Lord Armstrong’s contribution to
industry, employment and benevolence and also a means to reinforce
this further by offering views along the new public park, Jesmond


Many connections have
been made between Lord Armstrong’s childhood fascination for water
and his talent as an engineer whose primary source of power was
water. There is a lasting comparison between the landscapes he knew
as a child and those he sought later in his life. Pandon Dene ran
through Shieldfield, where he was born and was a typical landscape
associated with tributaries feeding the river Tyne this was similar
to the adjacent valley of the river Ouseburn where the pleasure
grounds to Jesmond Dean were located.

Lord Armstrong would have undoubtedly have known
of the growing vogue for ‘woodland gardens’ which were being created
in other industrial suburbs such as Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield.
These new versions of estates which were previously the province of
the landed gentry, were carefully designed to provide a setting for
the house, a display of horticultural taste and at the same time
provide privacy from onlookers or unattractive

Jesmond Dene was a
prototype for probably the most successful woodland garden in the
country, Cragside. Before building Cragside Lord Armstrong was a
regular visitor to the Rothbury area which he had frequented as a
child. In the true spirit of the age and undaunted by the scale of
the estate Lord and Lady Armstrong began their new ‘woodland garden’
on acres of bare rocks and moorland c.1863. Stamping their identity
on the landscape in a novel manner which could only have been
achieved through immense wealth and blatant expression of self
confidence. The Northumberland landscape had not seen such
transformation since the great landowners the Duke of Northumberland
and Sir Walter Blackett developed their wider estates during the
18th century.

Following the
inevitable structural changes to many of Lord and Lady Armstrong’s
gifts to the City of Newcastle, the eradication of the Elswick Works
and their home, Jesmond Dean, Jesmond Dene and incorporated features
is a substantial reminder of a man by whom the industrial growth of
Newcastle City was partly defined.

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6.0 Development of Jesmond Dene as a Municipal

In 1878, before
Jesmond Dene was gifted to Newcastle City (1883)ibid. February 1883,
Sir William Armstrong (1810 – 1900) was already allowing the public
to visit his ‘park’. During a debate on the requirement for further
provision of public parks in Newcastle upon Tyne Mr. Alderman Hedley
cited it as a place which the population could resort to thereby
negating the need for large sums to be spent on acquiring Heaton
Parkibid. p.124 .

6.1 Donation of Jesmond Dene for a public

In February 1883 the Town
Clerk read out a letter from Lord Armstrong in which he offered the
gift of Jesmond Dene as a public park7.2.1883 NCLA Proceedings of
the Newcastle Council p.107. This was in addition to the land which
he had previously donated for Armstrong Park although for
convenience it seems that the earlier naming of the parks was

Lord Armstrong gave
the remaining pleasure grounds of Jesmond Dene but subject to
control by himself and Lady Armstrong as long as they lived. Some
buildings were included as part of the gift, the Banqueting Hall and
dwelling houses in the dene. Maintenance of the grounds would be
funded by Lord Armstrong who proposed letting the houses. Use of the
grounds would be subject to permission until the Corporation took
over but admission at weekends would be free.

The gift was subject to four conditions all of
which contributed to Lord Armstrong’s vision for a public park.
1st to take measures for diverting
the ever-increasing sewage of Gosforth and Bulham Village from the
burn which flows through the grounds. 2nd to take steps for
acquiring and adding to the park the bank on the west side of the
Dean between St. Mary’s Mount and Jesmond village. 3rd To build an
additional lodge and gate for entering the grounds at the east end
of the high level bridge across the Burn. 4th not to alter the
laying out of the grounds in a manner to render them more artificial
than at present. There may be some minor points to arrange, but
nothing involving any difficulty.

Additional land acquisitions

In April 1883 Sir William Armstrong announced a further
donation of land to include land which was already used for picnic
parties2.5.1883 NCLA Proceedings of the Newcastle Council p.247. In
order to provide additional open space for recreation Sir William
also gave a large field on higher ground (Paddy Freeman’s fields).
This land offered extensive dramatic views down into the wooded dene
and beyond to the wider landscape. Every possible requirement had
been considered and an additional 3½ acres was provided to allow a
new park entrance to be built at the east end of Armstrong Bridge.
The ruin of St. Mary’s Chapel was also donated although public
access was to be limited during the Armstrong’s occupation of
Jesmond Dean. A new road system was also instigated partly at Sir
William’s expense which extended from Armstrong Bridge to Gosforth.
The Corporation were expected to pay for fencing and metalling the
roads. They were also asked to take down four cottages on the high
ground and re-erect them in an adjacent field for the farm at High
Heaton. A new lodge was proposed for ‘Paddy Freemen’s fields’ and
Sir William offered to enlarge the pond there and pay for laying out
this new area.

In recognition of
these gifts the Corporation launched an appeal to fund the painting
of a portrait of Sir William which would be hung in the Banqueting
Hall2.5.1883 N.C.L.A. Proceedings of Newcastle City Council .

In 1899 Lord Armstrong wrote
to the Council indicating that
regard to his advanced age and his absence from Jesmond, he desired
to give up all powers of control over the Dene and Banqueting Hall.
Consequently the Parks Committee made arrangements to assume the
control, and the formal transfer took place yesterday, without any
2.5.1899 Local Newscuttings
In 1930 following the death of the widow of Captain Andrew
Noble Newcastle Council purchased the house and it was used as a
secretarial college much of the grounds were added to Jesmond
DeneDonald, J
Not Just Bricks and

Lord and Lady Armstrong benefactors
to the City of Newcastle

Lord and Lady Armstrong
were renowned philanthropists in Newcastle in 1873 an appreciation
of local worthies remarked
Even his
private residences are made to serve the public, as witness Jesmond,
with its splendid banqueting hall, erected for public use, and it’s
beautiful gardens and grounds, for regular admission to which only a
small charge is made, while the sum thus realised is handed over to
the funds of the Infirmary

Tyneside Celebrities
1873 p. 254 – 262. Inevitably the souvenir publication to the
opening of Armstrong Park commented Bountiful gifts from Sir William
and Lady Armstrong, have become such frequent occurrences that they
no longer occasion surprise. A lecture hall for the Literary Society
today, an operating theatre for the Infirmary tomorrow. Thousands to
restore a grand old steeple; thousands more to the Children’s
Hospital ; three fourths of a £20,000 bridge across Benton Valley;
£10,000 to the Natural History Museum; a Mechanics Institute and a
long range of Schools for the workmen of Elswick; Parks for his
fellow citizens. The more he bestows the richer he becomesRecord of
the Royal Visit – Jesmond Dene
compiled by Town Clerk Newcastle Andrew Reid 1884.

6.3 Opening of Armstrong Park
Following the gifts of two areas which were to be designated
public parks, Armstrong Park and Jesmond Dene, the title of
Armstrong Park referred to both. The park was opened on the 20th
August 1884 by the Prince and Princess of Wales. The Prince of Wales
in his response to an address of welcome stated
… I am glad we have met here today to inaugurate
an undertaking of such great value as a peoples park must always be
to a large and industrial town. And it is an additional
gratification to me to think we are the guests of the munificent
donor of such a splendid gift – your honoured fellow citizen, Sir
William Armstrong. A Library and a Museum of Natural History are
objects which cannot fail to be highly appreciated by the
intelligent population of Newcastle upon Tyne, and these
institutions will, I trust, prove a continual source of instruction
and recreation to them.
The Princess
of Wales planted a turkey oak tree at the south end of the
banqueting house to commemorate the opening of Armstrong Park. In
1933 a second turkey oak was planted by Alderman Benson to
commemorate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the
Jesmond Dene Trail Newcastle City Council.

Management regimes

As the dene
is mostly woodland the management of matters such as bedding
displays appears to have been somewhat overlooked or taken for
granted in the park minutes.

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7.0 Layout Design of Jesmond Dene

7.2 Map descriptions of Jesmond

7.2 1858
– 9 Ordnance Survey

The map
shows a great deal of detail at the time when Sir William Armstrong
had just completed the building of Jesmond Dean and was about to
embark on improving the pleasure grounds.

The Ouseburn passes through a varied
landscape, containing large tracts of woodland bordering the
watercourse and on the higher ground pasture.

The north boundary of the study area is
crossed by a bridge which gives access from Matthew Bank to
Heaton High Laws.

In addition
there are a number of large houses with extensive pleasure
grounds, these include Crag Hall, Jesmond Dene House, West
Jesmond House, Jesmond Dean, Jesmond Grove, Jesmond Cottage,
Jesmond House, Stotes Hall and Heaton Dene House.

There are a number of
quarries in the dene particularly at the northern end.

A ridge line is shown on the
eastern side of the dene to the north of Jesmond Dene House
called Blaeberry Crag.

Adjacent to the Ouseburn are Heaton Mill (corn), Flint
Mill with adjacent lime kiln, Heaton Cottage, Jesmond Terrace,
Busy Cottage Mill (corn), Busy Cottage.

A mill race runs from Dene Bridge in the north
through to Heaton Mill then on to Flint Mill it emerges again
south of Heaton Cottage runs through to Busy Cottage, under
Heaton Dene House and emerges south of the gardens then rejoins
the Ouseburn at Benton Bridge.

The public house shown on the 1834 plan is called Apple
Tree Inn and reached by a ford from the eastern bank.

High Heaton (Farm) overlooks
the dene from the east side.

7.3 Plan of The Armstrong Park
Newcastle upon Tyne 1884

major buildings and features are labelled on this plan which
celebrated the royal visit to Armstrong Park. These include Jesmond
Dene (sic), the new Banqueting Hall, Jesmond Valley Bridge, the
water mill and water falls, a lake adjacent to High Heaton and a
number of existing and proposed lodges.

This plan also includes the section of the park to
the south of Jesmond Valley Bridge including the eastern entrance
where the royal visitors
. The informative plan clearly
indicates the layout of the walk the access points to the park and
the tree cover. The plan is shaded to indicate land purchased by the
Corporation of Newcastle upon Tyne, 23 acres and land presented by
Sir William Armstrong to the city, containing about 93 acres. The
total area of the park is noted as 116 acres and it’s total length
is 1 and half miles.

The key
includes a description of the banqueting hall being
built by Sir. W. G. Armstrong for Public
entertainments, but mainly for pic-nic parties and popular
gatherings, and lately presented to the city.
In addition there is a description which reads as
The scenery beyond the
banqueting hall is of a very romantic character, and includes an old
water mill, built about Charles the seconds reign near which are
waterfalls, bridge , grotto, etc. etc.

7.4 OS 1898

Whilst the pasture
land to the east of the dene remains largely the same the village of
Jesmond has become increasingly developed towards the dene. The
large residences remain and are being encroached upon and no pasture
land now exists to the west of the dene. By the time of this survey
Jesmond Dene was a public park.

Changes which have occured since the 1858 OS are as follows
looking from the north to south.

Heaton High Laws has been named
Castles Farm and has increased in size.

Blaeberry Crags has been renamed Blackberry

A drive has been built
through the park and begins at South Lodge leading along the
east bank of the river Ouseburn up to North Lodge where it turns
across a small bridge which leads up to North West Lodge and
Jesmond Dene Road.

The area
around ‘Old Mill’ has changed considerably from the 1858 OS. The
Ouseburn has been widened upstream from the newly built
waterfall and rockwork. A grotto is located west of the

A recreation
ground is shown on the west side of the dene to the rear of the

At the south tip of
the recreation ground a large bridge crosses the Ouseburn
connecting the drive along the west of the dene with a lane up
to Jesmond Dene Road.

character of the woodland in this section of the dene has
changed and includes conifers as well as deciduous trees.

The river is crossed by
numerous weirs, cascades, stepping stones and small bridges.

The bridges link to a network
of paths which run the length of the dene. The footpaths are
connected to points which allow the vistor to ascend or descend
the slopes.

The Red Walk
commences south of Deep Dene House and connects with a
footbridge which allows access to the Banqueting

Further south the Red
Walk passes Busy Cottage, Millfield House and Heaton Dene House.

A footpath climbs above
Millfield House to connect with High South Lodge which is
located at the east end of Armstrong Bridge. From here the
visitor crosses to a drive which leads through the remaining
section of Armstrong Park.

The Red Walk or drive, passes below Armstrong Bridge and
meets Benton Bank by South Lodge.

Alternatively the visitor could walk across Armstrong
Bridge and take in views along the

7.5 OS 1916 edition
Little has changed in the dene during this survey. The routes
of the footpaths remain unchanged. A small area of previously open
ground north of Deep Dene has been planted with woodland.

7.6 OS 1941

At the north end of
Jesmond Dene a large nursery has been developed on ground which was
previously pasture adjacent to Jesmond Dene house. There are
connecting footpaths from here through to the dene. Despite the
change in land ownership the layout of the gardens, including the
dene, to Jesmond Dene House appears unchanged. A shelter has been
constructed at the north end of the recreation ground.

7.7 OS 1957,
1968, 1979, 1988

These surveys
show no significant changes to the layout of Jesmond

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The beauty
of the natural woodland in Jesmond Dene has long inspired comment.
In 1825 a description was made of Jesmond Dene by a local poet
Robert Gilchrist,
On Whit Tuesday,
1825, Mr. Young and I took a walk to Jesmond Dene, situated a little
to the north-east of Newcastle. This valley can boast some of the
finest scenery in the North of England, being most delightfully
diversified with wood and water, forming some beautiful walks,
equally inviting from their coolness and retirementJesmond Dene in
Newspaper Cuttings relating to
Newcastle Vol 2.p.59

In 1889 the dene was
described by John Wilson
Dene, where so many kinds of plants revel in all the fascinating
loveliness of their native character, is not without its western
planes. The largest specimen is 42 feet in height, 30 feet in the
spread of it’s branches, and 39 inches in girth at two feet from the
ground. It is well proportioned and, although it comes rather late
into leaf, it is in very good health. This and another of almost
equal size, is growing on a patch of flat, rich, moist, but not
stagnant ground, in the middle of the Dene, known as the ‘Nursery’.
I remember a good specimen at Cragside, which Mr Wilson, the
superintendent of the Dene thinks may be of the same stock, as
quantities of trees and shrubs were, at one time sent from the
latter place to Cragside. The two above mentioned have every
appearance of having been left in a nursery row, and wisely
undisturbed, attained their present stature
Wilson,J Uses and Beauties of
1892 p.42 When the book was
published John Wilson was working at Leazes Park.

8.1 Maturity of trees
description of Jesmond Dene made in 1894The Gardeners’ Chronicle
June 16 1894 p.748 provides a valuable record of the range of
species which the correspondent found in the pleasure grounds. The
first aspect of the plantings which was discussed was the maturity
of some of the trees ….
Some of the
deciduous trees must have been planted quite a century and a half,
and although a number of the species have gone down under the
influence of smoke impurities, good numbers are still standing.

An ancient oak tree known as ‘The
King of Jesmond’ once stood near the end of Jesmond Dene Terrace. It
was chopped down because it obstructed the road on which the Royal
Party were to approach the Banqueting HouseNCLA Local History Items
Vol.20 p.213

Effects of pollution

The beech
were observed to have started to suffer from
smoke impurities. Western
planes were planted and were apparently not growing well. Generally
it was thought that the ‘lower growing trees’ were faring better, in
particular the Golden Elder. The double flowering cherry were
successful as were the Bird Cherry. The occasional pear tree which
was evident also seemed to grow well.

8.3 Ground cover
The description of ground cover is interesting as
there seems to have been great variety of herbaceous and alpine
vegetation and this was reported to be a principal feature of the
park ….
It is naturally rocky, and
much of the rocky shelving is clad with suitable greenery
this included Periwinkles, Irish Ivy
and London Pride …..
The Ivy, of
course, is most effective when it is used for clambering over the
rocky shelving, the other two for slope groundwork. This sort of
clothing pleases the eye vastly in winter, and when spring returns
no end of squills, and Crocuses, and similar plants, spring up from
dwarf greenery. In this respect the Dene is truly lovely.
Bracken was planted on the slopes
under the trees but only one fern
Polystichum angulare was
evident. Bulrushes grew in damp areas and in the water white water
Nymphae alba also Nuphar lutea
the yellow pond lily (see fig.

8.4 Impact of
the trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants

An article in Gardener’s ChronicleThe Gardeners’
Chronicle June 16 1894 p.748 1894 on Public Parks at Newcastle
provides a contemporary appreciation of the way in which Jesmond
Dene was planted. The following notes have been extracted from this.


These were complimented as
being good specimens although there were not many planted. (see fig.


Berberis aquifolium
grew in less verdant parts of the
dene and
Berberis darwinii
provided strong contrasting colour in
other areas of the dene.

8.4.3 Conifers
The mountain pine seems to be the only conifer which
tolerated conditions in Jesmond Dene.

8.4.4 Cotoneaster
The trailing habit of Cotoneaster was thought to
provide good diversity of cover on rock faces and the correspondent
suggested that they could be grown with
Empetrum nigrum.

8.4.5 Commemorative trees
A commemorative
Turkey Oak which was presented to Lord and Lady Armstrong was
planted to the rear of the Banqueting Hall when the park was opened
in 1884Young, M.
1969. In 1933 a second turkey
oak was planted by Alderman Benson to commemorate the 50th
anniversary of the opening of the park
Jesmond Dene Trail Newcastle
City Council.

8.4.6 Deciduous

The dene was planted with
large numbers of weigelia, Mock Orange and Spirea (deciduous and
Crataegus oxycantha
‘Paul’s Scarlet’
an ornamental
hawthorn was also noted.

8.4.7 Elm
Wych Elm may have been chosen as it’s native habitat is the Scottish
hillside and the connotation would have been desirable for a
‘woodland garden’.

8.4.8 Ericas and Callunas
The heaths and common heaths were described as a collection
planted in several areas the
and multiflora alba were
eye-catching when flowering in the winter and these beds were backed
Andromeda polifolia and Hebe
Several flowering iris
were displayed and the most effective plant in these groups was
apparently the dwarf whin
Ulex nana.

Herbaceous plants

The more modest
plants such as St. John’s Wort, Teasel and Broom were thought to
provide good winter decoration. Many varieties of sedum and
saxifrage were planted with Polyanthus, Daisies, Lily of the Valley,
orchis maculata, Dianthus, Potentillas, Cotyledon umbilicus and
several of the indigenous Geraniums, Gentians a variety of
herbaceous plants
are grouped, not in
small patches, nor in any particular design, but in such places as
to attract the attention of the promenader.
(see figs. 34,35,36,37)


The Hollies were of great
interest to the author, many varieties were present and the best
specimens were Hodgins. The Golden Queen Holly was one which did not
fare so well although the Waterers Golden Queen reacted well to
conditions. The hollies were arranged in groups and although this
was thought to be a somewhat formal arrangement
….. still, with their immediate neighbours and
the surroundings taken into account, the eye even of the stickler
for Nature doing it’s own work in its own way is so far
The Gardeners’ Chronicle
June 16 1894 p.751

s and Azaleas
were planted in clumps and
interspersed with white lilies also
Lilium lancifolium
Lilium auratum.
The Pontica and
Ghent Azaleas were planted in large numbers providing a show of
colour and strong scent, the autumn foliage was also showy. The
azaleas were also underplanted with
Lilium lancifolium. The
rhododendron beds provided a suitable framework for the lilies to
grow up through without the need for staking. Large numbers of
Lady’s slipper orchids also abounded here.(see fig. 31)


Both green and golden yews
were planted especially along the margins of the Ouseburn.

8.5 Summary list of trees, shrubs and
plants described in Jesmond Dene in 1894

Trees and shrubs
Andromeda polifolia Bog
rosemary (Heardy heath)



Aucuba japonica
cvs. Spotted laurels
Arundinaria japonica Bamboo
Betula pendula
Silver Birch
Berberis darwinii
Calluna vulgaris
Sweet or Spanish

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana
Lawson’s Cypress
Cotoneaster spp.

Crateagus oxycantha ‘Paul’s Scarlet’ Paul’s double thorn
Erica spp. and cvs.

Erica herbacea Winter or snow heath
Erica herbacea multiflora alba Winter heath

Garrya eliptica Garrya
Gaultheria mucronata Pernettya
Salal or


Hebe brachysiphon
Shrubby Veronica
Hypericum calycinum St. John’s Wort
Ilex x
‘Hodginsii’ Holly

Ilex aquifolium cvs. Holly (gold, silver and

Ilex aquifolium
‘Watererana’ Holly

Mahonia aquifolium
Oregon Grape
Menziesia spp.
Dwarf shrubs resembling heaths.

Philadelphus spp. and cvs.
Mock Orange

Pinus mugo Mountain

Pinus nigra Austrian pine
Platanus occidentalis Western
Plane or Buttonwood

Prunus avium
Double Cherry or

Prunus padus Bird Cherry
Pyrus communis Common or
Garden Pear

Quercus robur
Common or English Oak
Rhododendron hirsutum Rhododendron
Pontica azalea
Rhododendron cvs.
Ghent azalea

‘Aurea’ Golden

Sorbus aria Whitebeam
Sorbus aucuparia Mountain Ash
or Rowan


Spiraea spp. and cvs. Deciduous and

Common Yew
Taxus baccata aurea
Golden Yew

Ulex minor Dwarf gorse
Ulmus glabra Wych

Veronica traversi syn. Hebe
– Shrubby

Weigela spp. and cvs. Weigela


Asplendium scolopendrium Hart’s tongue fern
Convallaria majalis
Lily of the Valley

Crocus spp. and cvs

Lady’s slipper

Lady’s slipper orchid

Dactyloriza maculata Spotted orchid
Dipsacis fullonum

Empetrum nigrum Crowberry
Gentiana spp. and cvs

Geranium spp. and cvs. Geranium
Herdera helix ‘Hibernica’
Irish Ivy

Iris spp. and cvs. Iris
Lilium auratum Japanese

Lance leaved

Linnea borealis Twin flower
Nuphar lutea Yellow pond

Nymphae alba Native waterlily
Orchis maculata Hand orchid

Soft Shield

Potentilla spp. and cvs. Potentilla
Primula x polyantha

Saxifraga x
London Pride
Saxifraga spp. and
cvs. Saxifrage

Scilla spp. and cvs Squills
Sedum spp. and cvs.

Umbilicus rupestris Succulent sim. to houseleek
Vaccinium vitus-idaea Cowberry
Vinca spp. and cvs. Periwinkles

8.6 Management of Jesmond Dene
woodland 1905

When the pleasure
grounds at Jesmond Dene were created Lord Armstrong made use of
existing woodland in conjunction with introducing exotic trees and
shrubs. By the turn of the century many of the older trees were over
mature. The principal of Armstrong College and Mr.W. Wilson were
asked to report on the condition of the woodland in Jesmond Dene.

As requested by the City Engineer
in connection with the Jesmond Dene re-afforestation scheme I beg to
submit a report as to the condition of the
old trees growing in the Dene
and future renewal. Very many trees particularly the Ash and
Sycamore are now in decline of them being very much
decayed. Therefore
some new trees should be planted. Clearing os the useless underwood
to be made and planted with Ash, Elm, Sycamore,
Chestnut and
Mountain Ash, also Aucuba Rhododendrons, Holly and berberis.
On high recreation ground (Paddy
Freeman fields) he thought a few more groups of trees could be
planted at the north end of the lake. The field at Deep Dene might
be suitable for experimental purposes as Armstrong College needed
land for testing out trees and shrubs as to their suitability for
the area.

A further report of the
dene mentions the way in which the dene was formed and treed before
it was adapted by Lord Armstrong. The report details events since
the dene was laid out.
There is
little doubt that Jesmond Dene differed little from , if at all,
from the ordinary denes of the district previous in the
last fifty years
or so, when it was laid out much in it’s present form by Lord
Armstrong. The work then done appears to have chiefly consisted in
formation of walks and paths along the face of the banks, in
planting trees and shrubs here and there, and in alterations to the
bed of the stream
near the mill. Since then, the only additional
work done has been in the way of planting a few trees and shrubs
here and there in the more open

places, and in forming beds of
shrubby and herbaceous plants under or between the trees. In this
work considerable skill and taste

have been shown, and it cannot be
said that the ideas and views of the original improveer have been
departed from since the Dene

was handed over to the Corporation of

Suggestions were made for replanting such as
not be too many tall trees put in at
the bottom of the dene as they would exclude light …… The most
appropriate course to follow was to keep the tops of the banks
thickly planted this would help add depth to the planting and also
allow for
the effects of light and shade.… also ..Where the surfaces
of rocks showed they could be kept bare as features. It was also
proposed that each plant should be properly labelled as
arboretum. Finally it was
reiterated that
great care was taken
in this report to make sure that they did not deviate from the
original intentions
4.12.1905 TWA
MD/NC 26 / 4
(see figs.57,58)

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9.0 Features

9.1 Landscape Features

9.1.2 Colman’s

Thought to be a field
once used by Mr. Colman to raise geese and ducks which were sold at
Grainger MarketDonald, J
Not just
bricks and mortar
. A letter from Wm.
Coleman to the Council indicated that he leased Dene House in
189926.6.1899 MD/NC 144 / 2 (gazetteer 9) (see fig.39)


The large naturalistic
grotto adjacent to the waterfall was an important attribute to
Jesmond Dene (gazetteer 10). The 1898 OS shows the grotto approached
by a path through an area which is secluded by shrub planting. This
conscious departure from the ‘outer’ landscape prepared the visitor
to descend into another world which would stimulate the imagination
and provide a place for quiet contemplation. Stone from this small
quarry may have been used to build the artificial waterfall. The
sound of water rushing over the nearby waterfall would have added to
the atmosphere in the grotto.

Elsewhere in the dene there were smaller grottos which
provided features which could be viewed from the path. These were
created at the bottom of steep rock faces where hollowed stone
allowed small pools to form. The surrounding rocks were planted with
ferns and plants with a creeping habit such as Periwinkles. (see
figs. 15,16,17,40,41)

9.1.4 Pet’s corner
Pets corner was established during the 1970s
opposite Millfield House and has expanded over the years. A pet’s
cemetery is located in Colman’s Field (see fig. 45)

9.1.5 Quarry

It is not known who
built the quarry garden as it was part of the pleasure grounds to
Jesmond Dene House (gazetteer 11) . When Mackenzie described the
gardens in 1825, before Lord Armstrong built Jesmond Dean, he did
not mention a quarry garden specifically but indicated the virtues
of the site
The situation is low and
well sheltered, and the view which it commands, though confined, is
peculiarly rich and variegated. When the gardens, plantations, and
pleasure grounds assume the aspect intended, the whole will present
a scene at once rich, luxuriant and romantic
Mackenzie,E A descriptive and
historical account of the town and county of Newcastle upon
2. vols. Mackenzie and Dent 1827
. (see fig.18,43,44)

Recreation field

This small
field at the north end of Jesmond Dene was described in 1894 as
… a park where cattle browse, is
put at the service of ‘trippers

for games or other recreative
Gardener’s Chronicle June 16
1894 p.751
(see fig..46) (gazetteer 12)


9.2.1 Boating Lake
boating lake was formed at Paddy Freeman’s field by improving a pond
which had been used previously to provide a head of water for the
organ in the Banqueting Hall (gazetteer 13) . The lake is shown on
the 1884 plan and 1898 OS.

In 1913
the Heaton and District model boat club requested a boat house to
accommodate the larger boats. To bring the facilities in line with
other clubs in the district also wished for the corners to be
removed from the west side of the lake14.10.1913 TWA MD/NC 26/5.
(see fig.19)

9.2.2 Cascades
cascades in the dene have a subtle effect on the course of the water
as it descends through the valley. The frequency of these structures
allowed variety in points of interest which the visitor could
juxtapose with other experiences such as views of buildings or
displays of woodland planting. The cascades were often located near
bridges providing interest in the foreground before the eye was
drawn up to the wider views

(see fig.56 ).


Comparisons between the paintings
of Jesmond Dene Mill (figs.4,5)

and photographs taken after the
waterfall was constructed show a significant difference in the form
of the landscape around the building. Lord Armstrong’s fascination
with water was sustained by the revision of the manner in which
water passed through the whole length of Jesmond Dene. The broad
tranquil expanse of water where the river was widened acted as a
contrast to the crashing waterfall beyond. Through the introduction
of a waterfall he was able to add drama to the water and force it to
rush over numerous cascades which he also introduced. The
combination of the sound of rushing water and effects of the play of
light added great depth and contrast to the experience of the
pleasure grounds. (see figs. 20, 21,47,48)

9.3 Buildings

9.3.1 Banqueting Hall (listed Grade

Following Government
rejection of Armstrong’s guns due to poor performance in the third
China War Lord Armstrong reorganised his enterprise and joined the
munitions with the engineering interests he then addressed the
potential of selling overseas. The Armstrong Elswick works became a
phenomenal success through sales of guns to both sides fighting the
American Civil WarSaint, Dr.
Cragside, Northumberland National Trust 1992. Coupled with the success of the
engineering firm Lord Armstrong became a leading national figure and
consequently was required to entertain international clients.
Jesmond Dean was too small for large scale entertainment and
Armstrong commissioned the celebrated Newcastle architect John
Dobson (1787 – 1865) to build a Banqueting House in 1860 (gazetteer
15). The building included an ante room which was used as a gallery
for Lord Armstrong’s art collection and this room also had a pipe
organ which is said to have been powered by a head of water piped
down from the pond now in Paddy Freeman’s fields. Once the
Armstrong’s moved to Cragside the Banqueting House was used as a
facility for the park and used for the needs of ‘trippers’
to permit the eating of food brought
with them in a comfortable way, vastly appreciated in inclement

In 1903 discussions
were held by the Parks Committee regarding a proposed memorial
tablet to Lord Armstrong which was to be placed at the Banqueting
Hall26.10.1903 TWA MD/NC 144 / 2. In 1970 the structural condition
of the Banqueting House was giving cause for concern. The building
was vacant and local press were questioning how much longer it would
surviveJournal 13.6.1970 (see fig.49 ).

9.3.2 Castle Farm
This extraordinary group of buildings is located at the north
end of the dene on the east side. The original gateway to the
stockyard was converted to a folly during the 19th century,
(gazetteer 15) possibly under instruction from Lord and Lady
Armstrong (see fig.50 ).

9.3.3 Crag Hall
In 1844 Crag Hall was the site of the discovery by a gardener
of two graves which contained
sealed food vessels one held human
remains (gazetteer 16)Dendy F.W.
Account of Jesmond
.(1904) Archaelogia
Aeliana 3 Series. Vol 1..

9.3.4 Davison’s Mill
The corn mill was converted to Heaton Cottage
(1858 OS), later called Deepdene House (1898 OS) and now the
Fisherman’s Lodge restaurent. Whilst owned by Lord Armstrong the
converted cottage was occupied by his higher management staff such
as Andrew Noble who lived there before moving to Jesmond Dene
HouseDonald, J
Not Just Bricks and
(see fig.22 ) (gazetteer 17).

9.3.5 Gatehouse to Banqueting Hall
(listed Grade II)

The Gothic
style gatehouse was built as an addition to the Banqueting Hall by
R. Norman Shaw in 1869 -70 (gazetteer 18) (see fig. 23).


These were located
in the nursery area which was only linked by footpaths to the

Heaton Dene House

This was
near Millfield House and is now the site of Pet’s Corner. Heaton
Dene House is thought to have been previously Coleman’s Poultry
FarmDonald, J ibid. (gazetteer 19).

9.3.8 High Heaton

The farm was managed by
the Freeman family who were associated with Jesmond Dene

Jesmond Dene House (listed Grade II)

The house was designed by Dobson and built in 1822 for Thomas
Headlam. In 1870 Captain Andrew Noble purchased the property and
lived there until he died in 1915. The pleasure grounds were
developed to cover both sides of the Ouseburn and the quarry garden
at the north end of Jesmond Dene would have been part of this.
Mackenzie described the gardens in 1825,
When the gardens, plantations, and pleasure grounds assume
the aspect intended, the whole will present a scene at once rich,
luxuriant, and romantic
Mackenzie, E
A descriptive and historical account
of the town and county of Newcastle upon Tyne
2. vols. Mackenzie and Dent 1827 . The same year an account of the dene was published by
Robert Gilchrist Some may consider the situation to be rather low,
but by this many parts are seen to the utmost advantage. The remains
of a quarry for instance have been converted into a most delightful
and romantic spot
Newspaper Cuttings
relating to Newcastle Vol.2 p.59

The pleasure ground to Jesmond
Dene House also extended into the dene and now appears as a
culmination of the Armstrong’s pleasure grounds. Although Noble
worked for Armstrong it is not known whether his garden was
developed in collaboration with his employer. When his wife died in
1930 Newcastle Council bought the house and part of the grounds were
added to Jesmond Dene. The famous Jesmond ‘real tennis court’ was
built in the grounds of this houseDonald, J ibid.
(gazetteer 20).

Jesmond Dene Mill

See (4.7)

Jesmond Park

The large house
and pleasure grounds were built for Armourer Donkin (1779 – 1851) in
1828 (gazetteer 20). He was a close friend of Lord Armstrong having
trained him in law and left his estate to him when he

Jesmond Towers (listed Grade II)

Formerly West Jesmond House the property underwent
alterations in 1817 and 1823 – 7 by John Dobson for Sir Thomas
Burdon. By 1869 it was owned by Charles Mitchell, Lord Armstrong’s
partner and patron of St. George’s Church. Today (1999) the building
is occupied by La Sagesse school (gazetteer


High South Lodge
was built as one of Lord Armstrong’s conditions on handing over
Jesmond Dene and is illustrated on the 1894 OS (see 6.1)(gazetteer

West Lodge


This lodge was built between
the 1858 and 1894 OS (see fig.51) (gazetteer



This lodge was also built
between the 1858 and 1894 OS (see fig.52) (gazetteer

Lodge ( )

This lodge was also
built between the 1858 and 1894 OS (gazetteer

St. Mary’s Chapel

(listed Grade

See 4.5 (gazetteer

9.3.15 St.
Mary’s Well (Scheduled Ancient Monument)

See 4.6 (gazetteer 6)

9.3.16 Stotes

The hall was built on the
site of an existing farmhouse in 1607. Sir Richard Stote purchased
the hall in 1658. Stotes Hall was located on the east side of
Jesmond Dene Road and is thought to be the first non-fortified manor
to be built outside Newcastle City WallsFaulkener, T and Waterson, P
Lost Houses of Northumberland and


9.4.1 Armstrong Bridge (listed Grade II)
Armstrong Bridge spans a deep ravine which must have posed
considerable problems to traders transporting goods into Jesmond and
Newcastle from East Jesmond. The bridge was designed and constructed
in 1876 – 8 by W.G Armstrong & Co. using W.E.F Jackson as
masonry contractors. The bridge was built with eight wrought iron
lattice girder spans and these made an overall length of 552 feet
(168 m). The girders were supported on seven pairs of box section
columns. The individual sections allowed for thermal variation
causing expansion and contraction. The bridge has recently been
restored 1980’s however, use has been restricted to pedestrians
since 1960. On Sundays the bridge is used for an arts and crafts
market. (gazetteer 26)

9.4.2 Castle Farm Bridge (listed Grade

Also referred to as Dene
Bridge on the 1894 OS the bridge was built in 1850 to allow access
to the farm from the west (see fig. 53) (gazetteer

9.4.3 Bridge to west of Jesmond Dene

(listed Grade

The bridge was constructed
with rock faced sandstone c. 1862 and was built into a high arch of
rusticated wedge shaped segments. (gazetteer 28)

Footbridge north
east of Banqueting Hall (listed Grade II)

Built c.1870 in sandstone and was formed with an
arch of rusticated wedge shaped segments (see fig 54) (gazetteer

Footbridge crossing the Ouseburn south of Red Walk (listed Grade

The bridge was also built
c.1870 in sandstone (gazetteer 30).

9.4.6 Other

The North West
Lodge is connected to the east side of the dene by a footpath which
leads down to a footbridge north of North Lodge. A pair of bridges
link the recreation ground to the east of the park (see fig. Further
south a footbridge connects to a path leading up to an entrance from
Jesmond Dene Road .

descriptions or photographs of parks seats or other furniture in
Jesmond Dene have been discovered to date..

9.6 Roads, Drives and

9.6.1 Footpaths
In 1906
during discussions regarding surfacing of footpaths in Jesmond Dene
there was strong opposition from some committee members to a
proposed change from red ash paths to black asphaltProceedings of
Newcastle Council 29.3.1906.. Mr. Hildreth said
On thing that people saw in Jesmond Dene was it’s
natural characteristics. It was not an artificial park in any
respect. If they asphalted the path, they made it into an artificial

Part of a report on the
condition of trees in Jesmond Dene commented on the footpaths.
The public footpath was not
attractive mainly because it was bordered by a paling fence. It was
suggested that neat iron railings should be put up
4.12.1905 MD/NC 26 / 4

9.7 Sports

Little sport took
place in Jesmond Dene owing to the nature of the landscape although
cricket was played informally on the recreation ground as
illustrated in a photograph c.1900. A request was made in 1902 to
the Parks Committee for permission to play football in the
recreation ground but this was refused29.9.1902 TWA MD/NC 144/2 .
(see fig.26)

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10.0 Use of Park
Jesmond Dene is primarily used for walking. The numerous and
varied paths allow acess to a wide variety of views to the Ouseburn,
cascades, waterfall, woodland, builidngs and long views from the
higher paths. (see fig.27)

Colman’s fields have been used for open air concerts, but
generally the lawns here and on the recreation ground at the north
end, provide a popular location for informal summer recreation.(see

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11.0 Comment – Historic Merit

The survival of Jesmond Dene has been safeguarded
partly by the nature of the terrain on which it was laid out. The
majority of the park is located on land so steep that it would be
impossible to build on. The simple framework of paths running
alongside the Ouseburn and up into the woodland has remained
vitually unchanged since it was laid out. When Jesmond Dene was
donated to Newcastle City Council the Parks Committee immediately
voiced their concerns that they should adhere to Lord Armstrong’s
request that the style of the park should not be changed in any way.

Many denes in the north east
were made into Victorian ‘woodland gardens’ to complement suburban
houses built by wealthy industrialists. Saltwell Dene in Gateshead
was first laid out as a private pleasure ground by William Wailes
(1808 – 1881) and later became incorporated within a public park.
The crags of denes and dramatic steep slopes, thickly planted with
woodland added scale to the suburban estates built by industrialists
of the region. Business required that principal residences of the
owners should be near the factories and mines and families would
then resort to summer residences in the country in areas such as
Teesdale and Northumberland.

The design of Jesmond Dene was Lord and Lady Armstrong’s
response to the opportunity to create their own romantic landscape.
The Dene was entirely private from the growing surrounding suburbia
and the long narrow valley was ideal for the location of features
such as the Banqueting House, artificial waterfall adjacent to the
Old Mill, cascades, grottos, and exotic woodland planting. Armstrong
Bridge was gifted to the city for practical purposes but the
symbolism of Armstrong’s industrial acheivments thrust across the
Ouseburn valley, cannot be overlooked. The unique arrangement of
features which reflect so many of Lord Armstrong’s preoccupations is
all the more intriguing when considering his subsequent monumental
project of the pleasure grounds at Cragside.

Cragside gardens are thought to be the most
successful example of a ‘woodland garden’ in England. Romanticism
apart, the scheme for Cragside was quite outrageous and symbolic of
the Victorian power lust. Although there was a requirement for a
garden to provide escapism this ‘woodland garden’ was a symbol of
man’s triumph over nature, undaunted by scale the Armstrong’s
planted seven million trees and shrubs across almost 2,000 acres of
their estate.

Examples of
‘woodland gardens’ in other parts of the country can be found at Dob
Royd Castle, Todmorden which was laid out by Edward Kemp and Crag
Wood at Rawdon, Bradford. A public park at Woodhouse Ridge in Leeds
was laid out along the side of a romantic valley however the park
was not overlaid on pleasure grounds. Similarly the public park at
Roker Dene, in Sunderland was laid out in a dene but this land was
only made available for public use after it been rejected for
building development.

Jesmond Dene and
Cragside are registered by English Heritage as parks of Special
Historic Interest in England and both gardens have survived
remarkably well. Lord Armstrong’s acheivement in devising two
landscaped gardens of national status is a tribute to his
extraordinary vision and energy.

Back to




St. Mary’s Chapel first mentioned in Assize Roll

1607 Manor house later known
Stotes Hall built

Advertisement for sale of Busy Cottage and Forge

1810 Lord
born at

1820 Old Mill at
Jesmond painted by TM Richardson (elder)

1820 Crag Hall

1822 Jesmond
Dene House
built by John Dobson
for Dr.T Headlam

Description of Jesmond Dene published by local poet Robert

1828 Jesmond Park
built for Armorer Donkin (1779 – 1851)

1832 TM Richarson painted watercolour of Busy

1835 Jesmond Dean built for Lord Armstong on his marriage the
same year.

1844 Two cists found in grounds at Crag

1864 Banqueting House built in Jesmond Dene for Lord Armstrong
by John Dobson

1870 Lodge to Banqueting
built by Norman Shaw for


Armstrong Bridge constructed by WG Armstrong, and Messrs. WE

Jackson masons. The bridge was
presented to Newcastle citizens in


Jesmond Dene donated to the Corporation of Newcastle by Lord

Armstrong. Further land donated
by him in 1884

Armstrong Park, including Jesmond Dene, opened by Prince and
Princess of Wales.

1894 Article on planting in Jesmond Dene published in


1899 Control
of Jesmond Dene vested in Newcastle Corporation

1900 Lord
Armstrong died

Management plan produced for woodland in Jesmond

1927 Jesmond Grove

1929 Jesmond Manor
House demolished

Jesmond Dene House purchased by Newcastle City Council Jesmond Dene
extended by the addition of garden to this

c.1930 Jesmond Dean

1953 Stotes Hall

St. Mary’s Chapel and
site archaeological

Millfield House opened as Information Centre and