Banqueting House

Banqueting House

The Stables

The Stables


Gibside is an estate in the Derwent Valley in North East England. It is between Rowlands Gill, Tyne and Wear and Burnopfield, County Durham, and a few miles from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Gibside was previously owned by the Bowes-Lyon family. It is now a National Trust property. Gibside Hall, the main house on the estate, is now a shell, although the property is most famous for its chapel. The stables, walled garden, Column to Liberty and Banqueting House are also intact.


The Blakiston family acquired the estate by marriage in about 1540. Sir William Blakiston (1562–1641) replaced the old house with a spacious mansion between 1603 and 1620. Both the Royal (King James I of England) coat of arms and the Blakiston coat of arms are seen over the entrance of the old Hall. The Gibside property came into the possession of the Bowes family in 1713; a result of the marriage in 1693 of Sir William's great-granddaughter, Elizabeth Blakiston, to Sir William Bowes (1657–1707) of Streatlam Castle (now demolished).

Until 1722, the basis of the Bowes' influence was their own estate and house of Streatlam Castle, County Durham. However, after that date the acquisition through marriage of the Blakiston estate of Gibside gave the Bowes family an even greater influence in the north of the county and a share in the immense wealth that was to be acquired from the coal trade. The Blakiston estate included some of the area's richest coal seams.

In 1767 the granddaughter of Sir William Bowes – the "Bowes heiress" Mary Eleanor Bowes – married John Lyon, 9th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, who changed his surname to Bowes due to a provision in her father's will that any suitor had to take the family name. This was a device to continue the Bowes lineage in the absence of a male heir. The estate remained in the Bowes and Bowes-Lyon family until the 20th century.

After the split inheritance dispute following the death of John Bowes, 10th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne in 1820, it belonged to his legitimated son John Bowes until his death in 1885 (he is buried in the Gibside chapel), when under the entail it reverted to his cousin the 13th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne. It had been the main residence of John Bowes' mother, Mary Milner, by then Dowager Countess of Strathmore, and her second husband, the politician Sir William Hutt (who had been John Bowes' tutor), until the latter's death in 1882, which was the last time it was permanently occupied by the family.

Improvements to Gibside carried out by the Bowes-Lyon family in the 18th and early 19th centuries included landscaping, Gibside Chapel, built between 1760 and 1812, the Banqueting House, a column of Liberty, a substantial stable block, an avenue of oaks and several hundred acres of forest. The top floor of the main house was remodelled as a giant parapet, and the building was also extended to the side.

The chapel reflects the Calvinist leanings of the family, and though nominally Anglican, the interior is dominated by a huge and centrally placed "three-decker" pulpit. There is a house for the minister/chaplain nearby. Some holders of the position would not have been able to hold a Church of England parish living, on account of their views. The leading Palladian architect James Paine is attributed with most of the work of the 1750s and 1760s.

The Banqueting House was built in 1746, and is an early example of Gothic Revival architecture, of the early form often called "Gothick". It has now been restored and is available for letting by the Landmark Trust, who now own it.

Gibside's main house is not the focal point of the estate: the long walk runs from the Column of Liberty to the chapel and the mansion is located to one side. Like the Orangery nearby it sits at the top of a steep slope leading to flat meadows and the river. Carriage drives thread through the estate, and the stable block, Banqueting House, and other buildings are all spread out along them.

A large monument, originally called the "Column of British Liberty", now usually just the "Column to Liberty", was begun in the 1750s by the hugely wealthy Sir George Bowes, reflecting his Whig politics. Set at the top of a steep hillock, the monument itself is a Doric order column, taller than Nelson's Column in London, and topped by a standing bronze female figure, originally gilded, carrying a liberty pole, or cap of liberty on a pole.

Figures of "British Liberty", more often took the seated form of Britannia already very familiar from the British copper coinage, where Britannia had first appeared in 1672, with shield but carrying the cap on a rod as a liberty pole, in place of her usual trident. The column forms the other end of a vista running to the chapel, along the avenue, then over some rougher ground. The monument can be seen from a considerable distance, from the slopes on the other side of the Derwent.

The Bowes-Lyon family had other major country houses, Glamis Castle in Scotland, and Streatlam Castle, County Durham, relatively close to Gibside. By the late 19th century, Gibside was hardly used, and gradually fell into disrepair, irrevocably so in the case of the main house.

The house became vacant in the 1920s after the Bowes-Lyon family sold some of its properties to pay death duties. The building was stripped of its fixtures and fittings, with many of the fireplaces and other items being transferred to Glamis Castle. Parts of the structure were demolished in 1958, including the removal of the roof. What remains is protected by Grade II* listed building status and included in the Heritage at Risk Register.

Parts of the grounds have been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, including a forest garden that is currently under restoration. Several buildings including the Palladian chapel and others are awaiting or undergoing restoration.

The chapel and Long Walk have been in the National Trust's ownership since 1965, and an additional 354 acres (1.43 km2) of the grounds were acquired in 1993. The Banqueting House has been in the ownership of the Landmark Trust since 1981, the building having been restored from a derelict shell. The stables now house a learning and discovery centre. Women's Land Army girls were billeted at Gibside during World War I.

Column of Liberty

Column of Liberty

The Orangery

The Orangery


** – Gibside Walks – **

Whether you enjoy a relaxing stroll or a longer hike with varying terrains, walking at Gibside means you can stick to the paths or venture off the beaten track. It's peaceful with rest spots aplenty to pause and enjoy wildlife accompanied by plenty of views to admire; from within the gardens and over the Derwent Valley.

** – Gibside liberty trail – **

See parts of the historic garden design unfold as you explore the inner areas known as the Pleasure Grounds of the estate. Gibside's story will begin to unfold as you visit the historic features of the estate from grand buildings to now majestic ruins to key views and vistas. Explore the stunning landscape garden to see elegant buildings and ruins. Classified as Easy, the walk is 2.4 miles long and should take between one and two hours. It is described as dog friendly.

Start: Market Place.

  • 1. Find the start of the trail after crossing the road from the raised wooden walkway beside the estate map. Go straight ahead with the Walled Garden wall on your left and the play castle on your right.
  • Market Place. Here at Market Place you have a range of facilities before you start if needed. This is the place to stop for refreshments from the cafe or shop to take with you. Toilets and baby change facilities are found here.
  • 2. At the doorway to the Walled Garden, take a left turn and head through the door. The path leads you straight through the middle of the garden, passing apple trees and allotment plots. The end of the path leads to large wooden gates.
  • Walled Garden. The Walled Garden is the first of the historic features you will come across on your walk. It was once used to grow fruit and vegetables for the resident Bowes-Lyon family that lived in the Hall but was actually the second location of the Walled Garden. The first was originally built nearer the Hall, however, garden smells were unpopular too close to the house so George Bowes had it moved. The original design of the garden is unknown but evidence of some of the historic features are present - apple trees in the orchard are planted on top of the original planting plates that helped fruit trees put their energy into fruit growth rather than tree growth. The pond in the corner, was originally used for fish now home to rare great crested newts. The garden is now used by many locals to grow their own in allotment plots. If you have time, wander around the plots and see whats growing before continuing on the trail.
  • 3. Once outside the Walled Garden turn left, and just outside the small garden door, follow the path to the right, carefully crossing the road and head into the shrubbery. Follow the grassy path as it leads you to the Orangery ruin, with a field on your right. once you have explored the ruin, continue straight ahead and walk down the flight of steps. (If you struggle with stairs or have a wheelchair or pushchair, you can take the level grassy path through Orangery field - the gate is in front of the ruin. This will miss out Step 4 of this walk into Ice House Dene).
  • Shrubbery and Orangery. Like the Walled Garden, there are no historic garden design plans to follow to replicate how the shrubbery would have looked. Gardeners have created a mix of a Georgian and Victorian shrubbery using plants that would have been popular at the time. The Orangery, or Greenhouse, was built for Mary Eleanor (daughter of George Bowes) who developed a love of botany. This was her space to develop her passion.
  • 4. At the bottom of the steps head straight across the path and up the steps on the other slope, leading you into Ice House Dene. The path bears ot the right through the woodland, and out of the woods at the corner of Orangery Field and the Avenue Road. Turn left out of the woods and left again along the road.
  • Ice House Dene. This small piece of woodland is currently being planted with a range of shrubs, but it is also home to the original ice house that would have been used to keep food from the house cool. To find the ice house itself, follow the trail out of the woods and onto Avenue Road. Turn left and walk past the woodland until it opens up to a field. Take a left, and reenter the woodland, heading down a few steps. The ice house is just on your left within the bank. The door is locked but the small slot in the door allows the now resident bats to fly in and out of their roost.
  • 5. Continue along Avenue Road with the Avenue on your right and passing the field with the mound on your left (known as Green Close Field). Head straight on to Hall field which is on your left and lies in front of the Hall ruin. Turn right at the end of the Avenue, following the road.
  • Green Close Field and the Hall. Green Close Field is quite distinctive with its mound in the the middle. This mound was likely to have been a water feature or fountain as part of the original garden design. Now the field is used mostly for events, picnics and sport activities. The next field along lies in front of the Hall. This field is classed as a SSSI (Special Site of Scientific Interest), indicating its importance for wildlife. Its full of wildflowers through the spring and summer and turns into a haven for rare and unusual fungi in the autumn. You can follow the track towards the Hall to get a closer look at the ruin. Historically, there was a third floor and the right hand side of the building was a later extension. But look closer and you will start to see evidence that tells stories. Through the windows you can see grand fire places that would once have warmed this family home, but it also contained the rooms and cupboards where Mary Elearor was held captive by her tyrant husband, Andrew 'Stoney' Bowes, who forbid her the enjoyment of being among her treasured plants as he gambled and sold off much of the estate. Spot the bullet holes across the sundial where soldiers used the Hall as target practice during the Second World War. The Hall lost its roof as the estate fell into decline and the remaining family descendants moved into other properties. The Trust is seeking funding to make the Hall accessible once again, but it will never be back to its former glory.
  • 6. Before heading up the Avenue Road, glance to your left and you should see the Column to Liberty towering above the tree tops. Continue up the road that winds its way between historic yew trees, until it emerges at the top with a grassy lawn on your right in front of the Stables. At the top of the hill at the T-junction, turn right towards the Stables.
  • The Hollow Walk. At the end of the Avenue, you look across the Hollow Walk to see the Column. The Hollow Walk was part of the historic garden design, creating a deceptive view from the other end of the Avenue towards the Column, making the levelled grassy Avenue look like a seamless link to the Column in the distance. This dip is now home to a range of wildlife and its always worth a look in the dip to see if there are deer grazing or badgers playing.
  • 7. Follow the road towards the Stables and take the opportunity for a welcome break if needed. When you are ready to continue, head up the hill away from the Stables, back into the woodland. After about 100m, take the path into the woods on the left, just after passing the Woodland Bothy (on your right).
  • Stables. The side facade of the Stables that you see as you emerge form the Yew trees, shows the grand side of the Stables. George Bowes had this side designed specifically for this purpose - grandeur, as the original entrance to Gibside heads down through Snipes Dene. The Stables would have been the first glimpse visitors would have had of a Gibside building and George wanted it to show off his wealth, and make it not look like a Stables. Head into the Stables courtyard to take shelter from the weather, rest weary legs, or grab a snack or drink from Carriage House Coffee Shop. Toilets and baby change facilities are also here. The Stables is also home to Creative Studios (part of The Branch initiative - an opportunity for local creative artisans to develop their business within the grounds of the estate). Check out which of the businesses are in to see if there are any goodies you want to treat yourself too - art work, photography or handmade soaps!
  • 8. Follow this roughly surfaced track through the woods, where it will emerge beside the Octagon Pond. The path becomes grass, and venture around the pond (on your right). Look up the slope to see the historic banqueting House, or turn with the House behind you to see a lovely view across the Derwent Valley. Continue on with the pond to your right, passing under the cypress tree, towards the road. Turn right and then immediate left back into the woodland.
  • Octagon Pond and Banqueting House. The Octagon Pond was part of the garden design, creating a regimented eight sided water feature. Now the pond edges are hidden behind the reeds and rushes that provide a home to a wide range of aquatic species, including more great crested newts. It would have had a fountain, and the slopes leading up to the Banqueting House would have been terraced with statues. The Gothic style Banqueting House would have been the venue of many a Georgian feast or party. It is now a holiday cottage managed by the Landmark Trust, separate to the National Trust estate.
  • 9. As you wander through the woodland, notice the bird hide on your left. The path follows the boundary of the field also on your left (Brick Kiln Field). Walk straight ahead, then at the next path junction turn left, and after a few hundred meters of weaving through the trees, take another left after you have passed the edge of the field.
  • Brick Kiln Field. The name of this field gives its historic use away. Large amounts of clay were found on the Gibside estate and much of it was dug up and used to make bricks that were eventually laid building the Walled Garden. The Bird Hide looks out across the field. Pop in and see what birds you can spot on the feeders or hiding among the grassy meadow.
  • 10. Emerge from the woods to see the Column to Liberty sitting in a clearing, towering above your head to a height of 194ft. You can wander around the base of the Column and take in the views over the bushes along the Avenue or down the slope to the Lily Pond. When you are ready to resume the walk, return to the side of the Column with the grassy glade towards the field and find the path entering the woods again on your right. Continue down through the woodland until it emerges out the wood onto the road.
  • Column To Liberty. The Column was commissioned by George Bowes as part of the garden design to show his support for the political Whig party. In its time it was the second tallest monument in the country, pipped only by Nelson's Column in London. Gibside's Column is an icon in the Derwent Valley today, seen by many for miles around.
  • 11. The trail takes a left turn as you come out of the woods. However, before continuing on your way and heading up the hill, walk straight ahead across the road to the grassy area. Notice to your right a grassy mound - the top of it is a central point in the garden design giving a four way view or vista - across the Hollow walk along the Avenue to the Chapel, down the hill to the bottom of Snipes Dene and the Lily pond, back across the tree tops to the Column and up the hill to views of the Banqueting House. When you're ready, get back on the trail. Start to walk up the hill, but before reaching the slope, take the path on the right that cuts across the Hollow Walk. This path rejoins you to the road below the yew trees. At this point, turn right and walk back to the end of the Avenue.
  • 12. Head up the grassy slope to wander along the grassed Avenue under the trees. (If you need a surfaced route, then you can always stick to the road). You will see the Hall, Green Close Field this time on your right, and Park Fields, usually full of sheep and cows on your left. Head straight on towards the Chapel, and to keep to the trail walk on the left hand side to walk down the gravel path, turn right behind the Chapel and finish your walk as the path reenters Market Place. Time to rewards yourself with a cuppa or treat from the cafe or shop before heading off on your next adventure.
  • Avenue and Chapel The Avenue extends for half a mile, a grassy route under over 200 trees, including lime, oak and sycamore. Ironically, even though this is one of the most popular places for visitors, the trees were not part of the original design. The trees were planted at a later date to George's residence, blocking the clear views that would have existed form the Hall across to the livestock in Park Fields. There wouldn't have been any fences either, as the ditch, known as a HaHa, that runs along the length of the Avenue on the eastern side would have prevent livestock from venturing onto the Avenue. The Chapel is also worthy of a visit at the end of your walk. Its Palladian architecture is full of careful detail with ornate bows and oakleaves carved into the stone work. its unusual three-tier pulpit is also a key and rather rare feature of a Chapel in the style.
  • End: Gibside car park.
  • You made it!

    ** – Gibside explorer trail – **

    Definitely a walk for the family; a great way to use up some of that energy in the young ones. Discover the fun side of Gibside with an action-packed walk finding family adventure highlights including the Nature Playscape, den building area, the Low Ropes Course Strawberry Castle Play Area, and mini-Gibside Hall in the Discovery Room at the Stables. Classified as Easy, the walk is 2.2 miles long and should take between one and two and a half hours. It is described as dog friendly.

    Start: Market Place.

  • 1. Find the start of the trail after crossing the road from the raised wooden walkway beside the estate map. Go straight ahead with the Walled Garden wall on your left and the play castle on your right.
  • Market Place. Here at Market Place you have a range of facilities to use before you start if needed. This is the place to stop for refreshments from the cafe or shop to take with you. Toilets and baby change are found here too.
  • 2. At the doorway to the Walled Garden, take a left turn and head through the door. The path leads you straight through the middle of the garden, passing apple trees and allotment plots. The end of the path leads to large wooden gates.
  • Walled Garden. Once used to grow fruit and vegetables for the resident Bowes-Lyon family that lived in the Hall, the Walled Garden is now used by many locals to grow their own in allotment plots. Kids help grow many things here too. If you have time, wander around the plots and see what herbs, veg and fruit you can see growing. You can also look around the pond in the corner which is home to some rather rare great crested newts. there is also an observation bee hive, that during the spring and summer has a resident hive busy making honey. See if you can spot the queen if you have a look behind the doors.
  • 3. Out of the Walled Garden turn right and head towards the Avenue and when you reach it, turn left. You have a couple of options here, you can walk along the road alongside the Avenue or you can head up the grassy slope, and walk along the Avenue itself. The road will give you a roughly surfaced path while the Avenue is grassy but flat and a nice place for kids to run away from the road. Head along the Avenue, passing on your left the ruin if the Orangery first, followed by some woodland and then Green Close (a large field with a mound in the middle of it). There is usually a sports box here so you could stop for a quick game of football or rounders before continuing on your way. Continue with Green Close on your left which leads to the ruin of the Hall. Head to the end of the Avenue and the road bears to the right.
  • Avenue. The Avenue, or long walk as it was historically known, is about half a mile long and was a place the George Bowes exercised his horses. Give your kids a challenge and get them to race like horses as they move along the tree lined route.
  • 4. Turn right at the end of the Avenue and start to wind your way up the hill between the yew trees. Watch out for any vehicles on this section as it has a few bends in the road. Keep heading up the hill until you emerge out of the trees with a grassed lawn on your right in front of the Stables. At the top of the hill at the junction, turn right and follow the road towards the Stables.
  • Column to Liberty. Before turning right at the end of the Avenue, you will see the Column of Liberty looming up from the trees in Snipes Dene about half a mile in front of you. At a whopping 194 feet, the Column when built was one of the tallest monuments in the country! you could take a diversion and follow the signs to visit the column if you wanted to add a little bit extra to your route.
  • 5. After climbing that hill, you might need a little rest. As you follow the road towards the Stables, you have the option to head inside the courtyard, stop at the Coffee Shop for a drink, or use the picnic tables to enjoy your lunch. Toilets and baby change facilities are also found here if you need them. There is also a chance to see some horses, but they aren't in all the time. Once you are ready, head back outside and head up the hill away from the building. You do have a another hill to climb but there is an incentive of the Nature Playscape on your right as you head up into the woods. Keep following the road until you get to the top of the hill.
  • Stables and Nature Playscape. Whether you just need a break or if you are sheltering from the weather (hot or cold) you can get refreshments, visit the loo or have a look around the rooms. Learn a bit about Gibside's in the Wildlife Room which has interactive cameras and displays to help children get to know nature. The mini-Gibside Hall in the Discovery Room is a two-floor play house, where little ones can imagine life centuries ago. Don't forget to try milking Daisy the cow while you are there! Continuing with play, get the kids up that hill by going through the Playscape. its a play area with a difference using nature materials like tree trunks and stumps to clamber across or tunnels to crawl through.
  • 6. Follow the road which heads along the top of Park Fields on your right. if you look carefully you might spot the Chapel peaking out between the trees on the Avenue but you might also spot a giant wooden bat hanging in the trees. Continue you straight ahead, even when you reach a road junction, keeping on the level. You'll pass Gibside's den building area on your right, have a go building a den if you like. As you head onwards further into West Wood, you may have noticed more wooden carved animals amongst the trees. You may have spotted an owl and a weasel. The track continues straight ahead for about half a mile before a path junction marked my a finger post. If you miss it, you'll see a sign saying Forestry Access - there is no through route, so turn around and find that junction that heads down the hill.
  • Den Building. Why not try to build a den. You could imagine that you've been stranded at Gibside and need a home to shelter in to survive! Use the branches on the ground and create your own mini home. You might spot groups dong the same as this spot is used for bushcraft birthday parties and with visiting school or community groups. As part of encouraging people to 'leave no trace' as you experience the outdoors, the NT do ask you to carefully dismantle your den before heading off.
  • 7. Head down hill through the woods on this roughly surfaced footpath. less than 1/4 mile down the hill, there is a path on the left hand side. If you have time and are willing to try it, you could head along it to have a go at the Low Ropes Course. Once you have had a go, continue down the hill, crossing the road junction, and take a right up the hill into the woods leading you towards Strawberry Castle Play Area.
  • Low Ropes Course. This ropes course doesn't take you high off the ground, but it does challenge your strength and skills of balance to take you around each stage. You could time yourselves, or just face your fears and complete the challenge to the best of your ability.
  • 8. After a short steep climb, following the path that bears left, you can see the play area ahead. Follow the path around the side of the field and enter into Strawberry Castle Play Area. Don't forget to stop for a good play!
  • Strawberry Castle Play Area. Nestled at the bottom of the field behind the woods, the Play area gives you options of play. You can climb around the Castle, clamber up the ropes, swing across from mound to mound on the rope swings, zoom down the zip wire, or for smaller ones, play at the mini farm, or potter in the new sand and water zone. There seems to be something for everyone. There is also toilets, picnic benches, grassy areas to relax on or on weekends and holidays visit the little cabin cafe which sells drinks, sweets, ice creams and snacks.
  • 9. Once you've had you enough play, you are on your final stretch to finish. Find the path to the right of the Cafe Cabin, and follow it round along the edge of the field. There could be a range of farm animals in the fields with sheep, cows or sometimes horses making a regular appearance. The path comes out at the end of the Avenue, behind the Chapel and leads you straight ahead back to Market Place. You've finished the walk so reward yourself with ice cream of the shop or lunch and drinks in the cafe, before heading off for your next adventure.
  • End: Market Place, behind the Chapel. You made it!

    ** – Facilities – **


  • • Free parking in car parks.
  • • Dogs - they welcome responsible dog owners and ask that all dogs are kept on leads during their visit. Please clean up after them (there are dedicated bins provided onsite).
  • • The main toilet facilities are in Market Place.
  • • Cafe serving a selection of sandwiches, salads, scones and cakes, as well as hot and cold beverages.
  • • Play area: Strawberry Castle Play Area has toilet facilities and a cabin offering snacks and drinks (on weekends and during the school holidays).
  • • Shop and plant centre.
  • • Stable block, including a small cafe.
  • • While they welcome cyclists on bikes to GIbside, unfortunately there is no cycling around the estate due to the terrain.
  • Family:-

  • • Baby-changing facilities.
  • • All-terrain baby buggies to borrow.
  • • Traditional sweets available by Strawberry Castle Play Area kiosk during the school holidays and weekends.
  • • Three adventure play areas found around the estate.
  • • An observation hive in the Walled Garden.
  • • A learning and discovery room and indoor play area at the Stables.
  • • Children's menu in the main cafe.
  • • Lots of little treats for the youngsters in the shop.
  • Access:-

  • • They have twenty accessible parking spaces: Upon arrival, you can ring the number on the signs at each bay to request for the mobility vehicle service bus or a tramper to meet you at your car.
  • • There are two powered mobility vehicles (trampers)two wheelchairs and three prams available to borrow, please ring 01207 541820 to pre-book.
  • • There is a wheelchair-friendly mobility vehicle service: If you need assistance from your car, please ring the number on the sign at each individual accessible parking space. Alternatively, once you reach visitor reception, the mobility vehicle service runs on an hourly timetable, from visitor reception to market place and the stables.
  • • Accessible toilets can be found in Market Place and at Stables.
  • • A staff-assisted stair climber can provide access to the chapel for visitors with reduced mobility.
  • • The main cafe can be accessed by wheelchair or tramper via a double door to the right of the building.
  • • Access to shop can be via the ramp to the side of the building.
  • • Please be aware that there are cobbles within the stables courtyard although there is a smooth pathway around the edge, offering easy access to the cafe.


    Location : Gibside, near Rowlands Gill, Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, NE16 6BG

    Transport: Newcastle Central Station (National Rail, Metro) then bus OR Metrocentre (Metro) then bus. Bus routes 45 and 47 Red Kite have frequent services from Newcastle (passing train station and Metrocentre) to Consett, alight Rowlands Gill, ½ mile.

    Opening Times Summer: Daily 10:00 to 17:30;   Friday, Saturday until 21:00

    Opening Times Winter: Sunday 10:00 to 16:00

    Opening Times Chapel: Saturday, Sunday 10:00 to 16:00

    Tickets to 27th May: Adults £12.00. Children (aged 5 - 17) £6.00.

    Tel: 01207 541 820