Things to do in the house at Cragside
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.
We're future proofing Cragside House this winter
There's still time to visit Cragside House before it closes for the winter. Cragside House will close on Monday 6 November until spring 2024. We will be working with contractors on crucial electrical and fire protection upgrades as part of a £650,000 infrastructure project. This essential work will help to protect the House, ensuring it can be enjoyed by many more generations for years to come.
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 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.
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.
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.
Experience a grand designer garden created for beauty and function which includes a Formal Garden, Rock Garden and the Pinetum. Find out what you could discover on your next visit.
Historic buildings are a treasure trove of stories, art and collections. Learn more about what makes these places so special and plan your visit.