History of Crook Hall Gardens
A stone’s throw from Durham’s World Heritage Site, Grade I listed Crook Hall is considered one of the city’s most significant medieval domestic buildings. Dating back to the 14th century, find out how it's changed over the years, who lived here and some famous faces who visited.
Tenants and owners of Crook Hall
The oldest part of Crook Hall we see today was built by Peter del Croke in the first half of the 14th century. It's likely to have replaced an earlier building.
Following the del Croke family residency, Crook Hall had a series of short-term tenants until 1372, when Alan de Billingham took ownership. The Billingham family remained connected to the hall for almost 300 years and were employed by the Bishops of Durham at various points during this time. It was Thomas Billingham who, in 1450, gave the natural spring known as Fram Well to the people of Durham as a clean water source.
In 1667 Thomas Billingham sold Crook Hall to Christopher Mickleton, who passed it on to his son, James, a year later. James and his wife Frances made a series of changes to the hall, including a new wing and doorway.
John Mickleton, grandson of James and Frances, sold Crook Hall in 1721. By 1736 it was in the hands of the Hopper family of Shincliffe. The Hoppers added the Georgian wing to the west end of the building, with good quality pine panelling, a fine staircase and a stuccoed ceiling. Evidence suggests that they let the property rather than living it themselves.
Yorkshire-born antiquarian and topographer James Raine and his family became tenants of Crook Hall in 1834, where they remained until James’ death in 1858. During their time there, many of James’ friends and correspondents are known to have visited. These include William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Walter Scott and John Ruskin.
Learn about people from the past, discover remarkable works of art and brush up on your knowledge of architecture and gardens.
From landscape gardeners to LGBTQ+ campaigners and suffragettes to famous writers, many people have had their impact on the places we care for. Discover their stories and the lasting legacies they’ve left behind.
Wander through a series of interlinked gardens, each with its own character. Find out all the things to see and do here.
We're lucky to currently have a full team of volunteers at Crook Hall Gardens, so have paused recruitment for the time being. Please check back for future opportunities.