Seaton Delaval Hall
Seaton Delaval Hall is a Grade I listed country house in Northumberland, England. It is near the coast just north of Newcastle upon Tyne. Located between Seaton Sluice and Seaton Delaval, it was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh in 1718 for Admiral George Delaval and is now owned by the National Trust. Since completion of the house in 1728, it has had an unfortunate history. Neither architect nor patron lived to see its completion; it then passed through a succession of heirs, being lived in only intermittently.

The Delaval family had owned the estate since the time of the Norman conquest. Admiral Delaval, having made his fortune from bounty while in the navy, purchased the estate from an impoverished kinsman. (He had also served as a British envoy during the reign of Queen Anne.) Calling on the services of architect John Vanbrugh in 1718, the Admiral had originally wanted to modernise and enhance the existing mansion. But upon viewing the site, Vanbrugh felt he could do nothing and advised complete demolition of all except the ancient chapel near to the mansion, which is now the parish church of Our Lady. The works were completed in 1728, completed two years after the death of the Admiral, with the resulting new mansion the last country house Vanbrugh designed ”“ it is regarded as his finest work. On completion, the Admiral's nephew Francis had inherited the property, and moved in immediately. However, in 1822 the Centre Block was gutted by fire, said to have been caused by jackdaws nesting in the chimneys of the section of the east wing closest to the main house. This wing was subsequently demolished and various openings can still be identified to show where it joined the Centre Block. The house was partially restored in 1862”“63, when the central block was re-roofed, although it remained a shell internally. The effects of the fire are clearly visible in the great hall, originally 30 feet (9.1 m) high but still open to the roof, with blackened walls and muse statues.

Recent times
Further restoration was completed in 1959 and the early 1960s, including replacement of windows in the central block, restoration of the upstairs gallery in the main hall and paving of the floors on the piano nobile. However, the house was to remain unoccupied until the 1980s, when after a period of 160 years, Edward Delaval Henry Astley, 22nd Baron Hastings moved into the west wing. It became his permanent home until his death in 2007. The new Baron Hastings, burdened with a large Inheritance Tax bill, decided to seek a buyer for the Hall, and on 1 September 2008 the National Trust launched an appeal for £6.3m to bring the hall, with its gardens and grounds, into the Trust's custody. In December 2009, the Trust announced that its appeal had been successful, and the purchase having gone through, the Hall opened to visitors again on 1 May 2010.

Architecture and layout
The style of architecture is known as English Baroque, based on the Palladian style introduced into the UK by Inigo Jones. Vanbrugh evolved the style from the more decorated and architecturally lighter continental baroque popular in Europe. The design is of a centre block portico, or corps de logis, containing the state and principal rooms, between two flanking wings. The wings have a centre projection of three bays, crowned by a pediment, either side of which are 7 bays of sash windows above a ground floor arcade. The west wing originally housed secondary and service accommodation. Damaged in an earlier fire but restored to the original plan, it is distinguished by a great colonnade and boasted a lofty vaulted kitchen, now a salon. The east wing contains the stables, a sixty-foot chamber of palatial design, with stalls and mangers of stone fit. Between the two wings is a great open courtyard 180 feet (55 m) long and 152.5 feet (46.5 m) broad. While the exterior is still a perfect example of English baroque at its finest, the interiors of the state rooms remain unrestored from the fire. Also in the 400 acres (1.6 km 2) estate park is a stone mausoleum, about half a mile east of the hall, with a majestic dome and a portico resting on huge monoliths. It was erected by Lord Delaval to his only son, John, who died in 1775 aged 20, “as a result of having been kicked in a vital organ by a laundry maid to whom he was paying his addresses”. The mausoleum is now ruinous and its lead roof has gone. Also to the east in the park is an orangery crowned by cherubs and leaden statuary groups; one of these shows a slight figure of David, with empty sling, lightly poised above the crouching form of Goliath, who has his thumbs doubled inside his palms, a Northumbrian precaution against witchcraft. A large obelisk commands the fields to the south of the hall; the stub of a second can be found on the north side of the road running past the hall, next to the turning for New Hartley. This second obelisk marked the site where Admiral George Delaval was killed in a fall from his horse in 1723, before his new hall had been completed. Only the pedestal of the obelisk survives, half-hidden by trees; it is uninscribed.

As with many big old houses, Seaton Delaval Hall is alleged to have a ghost. According to family biographer, Francis Askham: There is a first-floor window on the North front of Seaton Delaval where, so it would seem from one particular part of the forecourt, a white-clad figure is standing. This, according to legend, is the White Lady, a girl who fell in love with the Delaval heir and died of a broken heart because the marriage was forbidden.

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