Things to see in the house at Ormesby Hall
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.
Take to the Stage
In the year that marks 90 years since the first theatre performance at Ormesby Hall, you can discover more about the theatrical daring of Ruth Pennyman and all her arts exploits. To follow in Ruth's footsteps we have transformed the Dining Room into a space for theatre, where rehearsals once occurred. Inside the Dining Room you can take to the stage, get dressed up and perform and discover more about theatre at Ormesby Hall. Upstairs you can see some original theatre costumes and make sure to visit the Secrets of the Collection exhibition, which includes theatrical items from the collection relating to Ruth and her theatre connections.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Uncover the stories of the family who called Ormesby home for over 400 years, from the ‘wicked’ Sir James to generous Colonel Pennyman.
Explore the garden at Ormesby Hall, a green oasis in the heart of industrial Middlesbrough. Discover the seasonal delights of this colourful Victorian formal garden.
Looking for some refreshments during your visit to Ormesby Hall? The café serves a wide range of drinks and snacks to eat in or take away. Afterwards, stop by the second-hand bookshop to pick up your next page turner.
Historic buildings are a treasure trove of stories, art and collections. Learn more about what makes these places so special and plan your visit.