Art In Ponteland, Northumberland
A sculpture park and art exhibition space set within the grounds of Cheeseburn Grange, near Ponteland.
Cheeseburn Grange has a rich and diverse history. It was originally the Grange, or farm, of the Augustinian Priory in Hexham. It had been granted to the Priory by John de Normanville in 1297. At the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536, Cheeseburn Grange came into the possession of the Crown and was leased to Gawen Swinburne. It passed to his widow, Margaret Lawson and then to her daughter who married Lewis Widdrington. Their son Thomas inherited the freehold in 1631. Upon his death in 1664 his brother Henry inherited. It remained in the Widdrington family until 1752, when Ralph Widdrington died without issue and Cheeseburn was passed to the Riddell family, who still live there today with their children.
Extensive remodelling was planned by Ralph Riddell Esq who commissioned John Dobson (the famous architect responsible for the magnificent Newcastle Central Station) in 1820 to extend and remodel the hall. Not all his plans were carried out but the main entrance was moved to the west, the tower over the front door was created, the parapets were built and the present chapel constructed. The altar was built by Joseph Hansom in 1860. Above the altar the oil painting “The Descent of Our Saviour from the Cross” was painted in 1824 by the Flemish artist J.S. Verillin. It a copy of the centre panel of Rubens triptych which is in Antwerp Cathedral. Dobson preserved the beautiful 18th century pillared stone doorway which he positioned in the garden and can still be seen today. In 1860 Hansom added a Gothic East Wing, demolished in 1973.
During the Second World War the house was occupied by St. Vincent's Orphanage. Simon and Joanna Riddell have lived at Cheeseburn since 1992, inheriting the house from Simon's bachelor uncle, Philip Riddell.
In 1992, the owners set about restoring the house and gardens, which had fallen into disrepair. Set in eleven acres of gardens surrounded by parks of grazing sheep, the garden was essentially a “gentleman's” garden, a formal layout with a great deal of holly and yew trees. The house was exposed with sweeping lawns around it, and there were no obvious boundaries to the east of the house. Much of the garden was left and cut for hay right up to the house walls. An old orchard occupied much of the east side, and there were no flower borders. A number of years' work saw the creation of garden spaces, parterres, herbaceous borders and a walled garden.
Since 2014, Cheeseburn Grange has become a “showcase for sculpture, design and art, where the public can encounter new and established work in the setting of the historic house and gardens”. The exhibitions are driven by Joanna Riddell and curated by Matthew Jarratt and are only open to the public on selected weekends during the summer so you need to book up in advance in order to secure your ticket. Sadly Cheeseburn is taking a break for 2022 but will hopefully be back, bigger and even better in 2023, believe me, it is worth the wait!
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Parking is on site and there are signs and volunteers available to direct you to the main entrance to the exhibitions.
Place contributed by Andrew Gardner
I love being outdoors, in nature, and experiencing the relaxation it brings. Wandering through the northern countryside seeing unexpected buildings, historic places and occasionally surprised wildlife is one of life's great pleasures.
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