A recent visit to Northumberland found me making a return visit to one of my favourite National Trust properties: Cragside in Rothbury, Northumberland. I have visited this property on many occasions yet still find it inspirational due to my interest in the Arts and Crafts movement. Selling doors is a very architectural and interior design linked occupation so I find it useful to visit properties while I am away. For anyone who is not familiar with this fascinating house and landscape, this Blog may help to stimulate an interest and encourage you to visit. This property was referred to as 'the palace of a modern magician'.
Armstrong Background History
Cragside was the brainchild of William Armstrong who was born in Sheildfield a mile away from the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne. Armstrong had a private education, studied law and worked as a solicitor. Nevertheless, he was very interested in engineering and a keen angler, while fishing on the River Dee he saw a water wheel supplying power to a quarry, it occurred to him that much of the power created was being wasted. This led him to design and develop a water-powered rotary engine then a piston engine to drive a hydraulic crane, his work was recognised by the Royal Society who made him a Fellow. This idea was developed and used to pipe water from reservoirs to Newcastle homes; he decided to resign from his occupation as a solicitor. In 1847 the firm of W.G. Armstrong & Company was started and built hydraulic cranes and machinery for many important dockyards.
Cragside was created as a holiday home, after starting out as a humble shooting Lodge, for William Armstrong then 1st Lord Armstrong and his wife Margaret and family along with the architect Richard Norman Shaw. This Victorian House and substantial gardens were created among the rocky moorland outside of Rothbury. Armstrong was an innovator and used his knowledge of hydraulic power to provide hydro-electricity to this very modern home; you can see, to this day, how this was achieved. The Arts and Crafts design phenomenon was an important style of the time and became the theme for the property. Armstrong patronised the contemporary hand craftsman of the day for the interior design, using now famous names, including William Morris for wallpapers and stained glass along with other glass designs by Dante, Rossetti and Burne-Jones, all supplied by Morris Co.
Cragside is a fascinating exhibit of a truly Arts and Crafts inspired architectural gem. In addition, the very modern adaptations, such as the hydro-electricity, hydraulic lifts, sauna and steam rooms show us how the things we take for granted know were truly inspirational in the Victorian Era. We have a lot to thank the innovators such as William Armstrong for perfecting and using these daring ideas. I recommend that you visit
Cragside, I’m sure you will enjoy the house and the beautiful landscaped gardens. The pictures with this Blog include some of the doors in the property; of course I couldn’t visit without taking pictures of lovely, original, panelled doors.