UNLIMITED ACCESS TO OVER 400 HISTORIC PLACES
Live and breathe the story of England at royal castles, historic gardens, forts & defences, world-famous prehistoric sites and many others.
Every Wednesday at 1pm we invite you to take a Free introductory tour through our Grade I listed gardens. Together with one of our experts you’ll learn more about the exotic plants inspired by Sir Charles Monck’s travels, the Quarry Garden’s own microclimate and the colourful Magnolia Terrace. Belsay is also home to one of the country's largest collection of Rhododendrons and a stunning formal Yew Garden. Tours are free (normal admission prices apply) and there’s no need to book!
The gardens at Belsay
Sir Richard de Middleton, Lord Chancellor to Henry III, owns the estate, known then as Beleshou.
Find out more about the history of Belsay
Middleton's only heirs are hanged, drawn and quartered in London after attempting to betray the crown. The Belsay estate is forfeited.
After a succession of owners, the marriage of John Middleton into the Stryvelyn family returns the estate to the Middletons. A new tower is probably built in celebration.
Thomas Middleton redevelops the castle and adds a Jacobean range, one of the first completely undefended buildings in the county.
A plain west wing is added to counterbalance the medieval tower.
Sir William Middleton, 5th baronet, creates informal planting, a serpentine drive, a bridge over a newly formed lake and a folly.
After the unexpected death of his brothers and father, 16 year old Charles Middleton inherits. He adopts his wealthy grandfather's last name, Monck, to inherit his Lincolnshire estate.
Monck, 25, marries his cousin and honeymoons in Europe, sketching along the way. He returns to design the New Hall in an avant-garde classic style, inspired by this trip.
After moving into the completed New Hall, Monck plants exotic imported trees and creates formal terraces, a canyoned quarry garden, broad terrace walks through trees and innovative heated kitchen gardens.
Sir Charles's grandson demolishes the Georgian west range. He rebuilds the 1614 house, re-roofs the castle, introduces exotic, colourful plants, and adds a pond and second arch to the quarry garden.
The army takes residence and the gardens are neglected. Furniture is stored in the attics and servant quarters are used for ordinary soldiers. The library becomes the officers' lounge.
With fewer maintenance funds, Sir Stephen Middleton, 9th baronet, moves into Swanstead, a smaller and more manageable house on the estate, where he lives until his death.
Ownership of the empty and rotting mansion is transferred to the state, who strip back wood, plasterwork and architectural features to attempt to deal with the damp.
English Heritage replaces floors in the anteroom, housekeeper's room, estate office and Sir Charles Monck's bedroom. Formal gardens are restored to their appearance in the 1920s and 1930s.
Belsay Hall's stark and inspiring spaces are used for displays of contemporary fashion, furniture, decorative arts and cutting-edge sensory installations.
Learn more about the history of Belsay Hall
'Lucky Spot' by Stella McCartney at Belsay (2009)