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Things to do in the house at Cragside

A woman and two young children gaze up to look at artworks on the umber-painted walls of the Gallery at Cragside, Northumberland
The Gallery at Cragside | © National Trust Images/John Millar

Step inside Britain’s original smart home – a pioneering Victorian mansion filled with the latest gadgets and inventions. Illuminated with hydro-electricity and powered by hydraulics, this impressive Arts and Crafts House was designed for modern living and efficiency.

The Library

The Library houses four of the inventor Joseph Swan’s original incandescent lamps. Originally the vases stood in a bowl of mercury. Servants would wear gloves to avoid electrocution while placing the bowls in mercury to complete the circuit.

The house shone with electric light, which was powered by Armstrong’s expertly integrated hydroelectricity system. This system harnessed the power from man-made lakes across the Cragside estate.

The warmly lit Library at Cragside, Northumberland, with its patterned red carpet, elegant tables and chairs, and its wall of cabinets and shelves containing books
The Library at Cragside | © National Trust Images / Andreas von Einsiedel

The Owl Suite

Guests in the Owl Suite would enjoy the luxury of hot and cold running water, central heating and even a sunken bath and fitted sinks.

People flocked to Cragside from all over the world, drawn by tales of the ‘modern magician's palace', filled with lavish gadgets.

In fact, in 1884 the Prince and Princess of Wales – the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra – stayed at the house. They chose Cragside over the region’s castles and homes.

The Drawing Room

The large and ostentatious Drawing Room was purposefully designed in stark contrast to the rest of the house. It served to demonstrate the Armstrongs' wealth while they hosted high-ranking officials and royalty.

It's complete with an elliptical ceiling for moonlit parties, a luxurious chenille carpet and a colossal, two-storey, carved–marble fireplace, which weighs 10 tonnes.

Inside the large double-height kitchen at Cragside, Northumberland, with its huge iron range, and a large wooden table with utensils and ingredients
Inside the Kitchen at Cragside | © National Trust Images / Nadia Mackenzie

The Kitchen

The kitchen boasts double-height ceilings and plenty of windows that bring in plenty of light and air. In the Armstrongs' time, it also had labour-saving gadgets including a water-powered rotating spit and an early dishwasher.

There was also a hand-operated dumb waiter for hoisting items up from the scullery and pantries.

Cragside's gallery was originally intended to house the Armstrong's private museum. The married couple collected contemporary British art by Millais, Leighton, Rossettini and Turner.

Collecting was a fashionable pastime for Victorians, as you'll see as you journey through the house. There's lots to discover, from exotic taxidermy to an assembly of 4,000 seashells - each carefully labelled and displayed.

The Drawing Room at Cragside with its intricately carved fireplace surround, curved ceiling and dining room furniture, including tables, chairs and couches

Discover more at Cragside

Find out when Cragside is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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History of Cragside 

Cragside is often considered to be Britain’s original smart home. Discover more about the creation of Cragside and the people who made the remarkable place we know today.

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Things to do in the gardens at Cragside 

Explore the ultimate designer garden. With spectacular vision, William and Margaret Armstrong transformed the grounds from a bare moorside into a fantasy mountain landscape. Created for beauty and function you’ll discover towering trees, overflowing flower beds, trickling burns, dramatic water cascades and engineered lakes that were created to harness the power of water.

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