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Things to see in the house at Ormesby Hall

A view of the pale blue Drawing Room showing fireplace, large mirror & chandelier at Ormesby Hall, Yorkshire
The Drawing Room at Ormesby Hall, Yorkshire | © National Trust Images/Dennis Gilbert

Explore inside Ormesby Hall near Middlesbrough, home to generations of the Pennyman family since 1599. Throughout the house, its décor, paintings and furniture tell the stories of the many members of the family who have lived in and enjoyed this grand house.

Photography at Ormesby Hall

This year at Ormesby Hall, we are celebrating photography.

The Pennyman family, who lived here prior to the National Trust caring for the house, had a passion for photography that spanned three generations. They enjoyed collecting photographs, having their photographs taken in professional studios and taking their own, both in the house and on their travels.

Recent research has uncovered the location of a dark room within the house, which has inspired the house theme for 2024, to tell the story of photography at Ormesby Hall.

During your visit, you can take your photograph in the photo studio we have created. You can choose your backdrop and props then smile for the camera!

In the secrets of the collection exhibition room, you can discover more about the photography items in the Pennyman collection. These include some of the photographs they collected, photographs they took and the cameras they used. You can then experience a dark room.

Photos from the Pennyman collection in the Entrance Hall of Ormesby Hall
Discover photos from the Pennyman's extensive collection around Ormesby Hall | © National Trust

A house transformed

James Pennyman bought Ormesby Manor – then a single-storey house – in 1599 and started a series of extensions and modifications that would continue for the next 150 years.

The mansion was built by the 3rd Baronet’s son and his wife in around 1740. It was further added to by the 6th Baronet and the two buildings were eventually joined together around 1870 to become what we now know as Ormesby Hall.

Exploring the house

Entrance Hall

The Entrance Hall with its grand Palladian style was built for Dorothy Pennyman in the 1740s. It was added to in around 1772, when Sir James, 6th Baronet, inherited the house. Over the fireplace is the Pennyman coat of arms denoting the Baronetcy dated 1663/4.

In the late 18th century it was very simply furnished, but by the 19th century it had become an informal living room. During Ruth Pennyman’s time, it was used as a venue for concerts.

The Library

The library we see today was used as the ‘Breakfasting Room’ in the late 18th century and then the ‘Ante-Room’ to the Dining Room until 1871.

James Stovin Pennyman used this room as a study, installing a padded door to reduce the amount of noise from the household beyond.

Ruth Pennyman made this room into a cosy winter Sitting Room.

Drawing Room

Originally Dorothy Pennyman’s ‘Best Eating Parlour’, this was remodelled by Sir James, the 6th Baronet, to form a dining room.

The functions of this original Dining Room and the connected Drawing Room were swapped in the 1870s, when this became a comfortable Drawing Room to which the ladies would withdraw after dinner.

Dining Room

Once the Drawing Room, this room was completely refurbished by Sir James Pennyman c.1772, creating a splendid saloon on the central axis of the house. The plaster ceiling spans the whole of the original room in one complex design.

James Stovin Pennyman also extended this new Dining Room to the south with a broad bay window overlooking the garden.

The 19th century decoration of the cornice in the bay is reminiscent of a railway station platform canopy, with James Stovin Pennyman having been a shareholder in several railway companies.

Please note this year the DIning Room is not displayed as a traditional Dining Room, but has been transformed into a space for theatre.

Girl running in the gallery with large ornate doorway behind her at Ormesby Hall, Yorkshire
The gallery at Ormesby Hall, Yorkshire | © National Trust Images / Esme Mai


The Gallery is one of the most unexpected delights of Ormesby and reflects both periods of 18th century decoration in the house.

The large segmental pediments above the doors indicate the private status of the most important guest bedroom on the north side, and the principal family bedroom on the south. A pair of ‘jib doors’, one on either side of the gallery, give access to the dressing rooms belonging to these main bedrooms.

The walls are adorned with family portraits, dating back to Sir Thomas Pennyman, 2nd Baronet (1642–1708).

Ante Room

A music room in the 18th century, this room was equipped with musical instruments such as a harpsichord. Later, it was used as a gathering space for guests and family to assemble before going downstairs to dine. Treasures in here include two miniature portraits of Sir William Henry Pennyman, 7th Baronet. They're painted on ivory, set in gold frames, engraved, and dated 1764.

North Bedroom

Known as the ‘best Guest Bedroom’, this room stands in the centre of the north front over the Entrance Hall, with views showing the original extent of the estate which reached as far as the River Tees. The room is grandly decorated and furnished for the comfort of the most honoured guests.

South Bedroom

This has always been the main family bedroom and is south facing with views over the garden. It's a warm, homely room, left as as it was on Ruth Pennyman's death in 1983.

Model railway collection

Venture into the servants' wing and you'll hear the familiar noise of trains. Following the sound you'll find two permanent model railway layouts: Corfe Castle, and the interactive children's layout.

The model railway journey at Ormesby Hall began over 20 years ago, when Ron Rising was looking for a home for the large scenic railway layout he had built in his loft. It was his donation to the National Trust which started the model railway collection at Ormesby. The Corfe Castle model is set in the early 1920s and took Ron 35 years to construct. It depicts Corfe Castle Station and an imaginary village, made to scale from card models of various buildings in the surrounding area. Some models also show detail inside.

Children will love the interactive layout with four circuits of track and buttons to push to make the trains move.

Ormesby Hall model railway layouts are maintained, run and conserved by a group of volunteers who have built two further layouts.

A view inside a furnished room in the house at Ormesby Hall, North Yorkshire

Ormesby Hall's collections

Explore the objects and works of art we care for at Ormesby Hall on the National Trust Collections website.

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