Lambton Castle
Lambton Castle, located in County Durham, England, between the towns of Washington and Chester-le-Street, is a stately home, the ancestral seat of the Lambton family, the Earls of Durham. It is a Grade II* listed building. Largely constructed in its present form in the early 1800s by John George Lambton, first Earl of Durham and one-time Governor General of Canada, it was built around the existing Harraton Hall, an 18th century mansion. The castle was designed by architects Joseph Bonomi the Elder and his son Ignatius and built in the style of a Norman castle, as was the fashion of the time. The building overlooks the wooded Wear Valley and it was paid for with coal mining wealth accumulated from the mines which ran below the castle and others right across County Durham. Much of the house, including the great hall, was demolished due to subsidence in the 1930s, ironically caused by the same mines from which Lambton wealth had been obtained. Also at this time, the contents were auctioned off to pay death duties and the family moved to the smaller Biddick Hall on the estate. Today, the castle is something of an anachronism. It stands empty, but continues to be maintained and remains the ancestral home of the Lambton family. It has been speculated that the family members have no wish, or simply cannot afford, to live there, but at the same time will not allow the building to become a conference centre or hotel. The park that surrounds the castle is bordered by a high wall and is still used for an annual pheasant shoot. For a time in the 1960s and 1970s, the castle's grounds were also home to Lambton Lion Park. Penshaw Monument, an Ancient Greek-style memorial to the first Earl, is located on nearby Penshaw Hill, which was formerly part of the Lambton Estate. This is also reputed to be the resting place of the mythical Lambton Worm, as depicted in the famous North East folk song. The northern edge of the castle's park marks the boundary between the counties of Tyne and Wear and County Durham. Since the 1960s, the Lambton family have continued to sell off parts of the estate to developers, most notably the land that was used to develop Washington New Town, which was the subject of a compulsory purchase order. A more recent transaction was the sale of the Biddick Woods Estate, which now includes the link road from the A182 to the A690 in Houghton le Spring and new business units.


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