Walk 1 – Wagonway
This is a self-guided walk around the wider estate of Seaton Delaval Hall, incorporating local points of interest and historical facts about the Delaval family and the hall.
This walk follows the Old Wagonway to the south of the hall, providing a magnificent view of the estate.
Seaton Delaval Hall main gates, grid ref: NZ321766
Leave Seaton Delaval Hall by the main gates, turn left on the footpath and follow the estate wall around the bend as far as the gates to the grounds of the Church of Our Lady and its secluded graveyard. Retrace your steps back to the main road and turn left to walk up the Avenue towards Seaton Delaval.
Church of Our Lady
The Church of Our Lady was built by the Normans, and is more than 1,000 years old.
Turn left at the first junction (signposted 'Public Bridleway Holywell Dene') into Harbord Terrace. Go to the lane end, round the metal gate, and straight ahead between fields then through a kissing gate beside a metal gate and onwards. To the left you can see the obelisk (which is on private farmland and is not accessible). The fields are called after the Dairy House Farm and Pit, which were in the hummocky area with several gorse bushes just before the next metal gate with a wooden bypass to its left.
Harbord Terrace, named after Elizabeth Evelyn Harbord, the wife of the 20th Lord Hastings, was built in 1879-90 for estate workers, the first cottage being the smithy.
Wiggle through the bypass and turn left along the wide grassy footpath, a wagonway that was in use by 1778. Deer can sometimes be seen in these fields. As you walk beside the hawthorn hedge there is a magnificent view of Seaton Delaval Hall and you can see the south front steps where Sir Francis Blake Delaval fell and broke his leg, from which he subsequently died in December 1752. The obelisk you can see is a landscape feature of the hall's pleasure grounds and would be a focal point for the Delavals and their guests to walk to when the weather was fine. The wagonway was used to carry the coal from the various mines in the area to Seaton Sluice, either for export or for the industry there.
Climb over the stile at the iron gate and continue straight on to steep steps down to the left, over a stile, and down to another flight of steps to the bottom of Holywell Dene. To the right you can see the foundation stones of a timber viaduct built to carry the wagonway over the Seaton Burn.
In Saxon times, Holywell Dene was known as Merkell Dene
Turn right and cross the Seaton Burn using the wooden bridge, turn immediately left on the path, keeping the burn on your left-hand side. On the left are the remains of Starlight Castle. After a short distance further, on the left-hand side of the burn, are two 18th-century cottages and the site of Seaton Lodge, a large Jacobean house bought in 1694 by Sir Ralph Delaval and lived in by his brother Sir John Delaval. It was Sir John Delaval who sold most of the estate to Admiral George Delaval. Samuel Pepys is said to have stayed here in 1672 and, six years later, the Scottish inventor James Watt. The Lodge was demolished in the 1960’s. Opposite, in the burn at low tide, can be seen the foundation stones of a footbridge used by the Delavals to reach the works complex in the now quiet and peaceful Seaton Sluice.
Starlight Castle is said to have been built in 24 hours by Sir Francis Blake Delaval for a wager of 100 guineas. The remains of the castle - a small wall and arch - can only be seen in winter when there is no vegetation.
Continue around the burn side and under the road bridge, pause and then contemplate the scene in front of you. It is difficult to imagine that in the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries Seaton Sluice was a major exporter of coal, salt and glass bottles. In 1777, thanks to the 'cut' in the cliff created by the Delavals, the following were exported from this port: 80,000 tons of coal, 300 tons of salt and 1.75 million glass bottles.
Seaton Sluice harbour
The 'cut' was made by John and Thomas Delaval between 1761- 1764 which gave improved access for ships to the old harbour and also created the New Harbour, a wet/dry dock, to allow the loading of cargo at all states of the tide and weather. This also created Rocky Island. The isolated sandstone pinnacle is known as Charlie’s Garden, named after the person who cultivated the top of it before the sea finally eroded the rocks between it and the mainland. It is not a sea stack but the result of 19th-century quarrying.
Retrace your steps (do not go under the road bridge) but turn right and down the short flight of steps to cross over the metal footbridge. Then turn left to pass under the road bridge and continue half right to reach the street of bungalows (Seaburn Grove), bear right in front of the bungalows.
At the roundabout turn left and stay on the footpath all the way back to the Hall. As you climb, notice the old wall on your left topped by slag, which is a waste product of glass making. Beyond the wall lay Lord Delaval's deer park, and above that his hare park. On your right, notice Lookout Farmhouse, built in 1721 and used as a lookout post in time of war. Opposite, you may be able to glimpse the Mausoleum. Further on you may also see, over the wall, the Orangery and the houses previously used by the garden employees. You will then reach your original starting point at the main gates of the hall.
Built in 1777 by Sir John Hussey Delaval for his son John, who died in 1776 aged 19, the Mausoleum was never consecrated and John is buried at Doddington, Lincolnshire.
Seaton Delaval Hall main gates, grid ref: NZ321766
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