Skip to content

The Blacketts and the history of Wallington

View of the south front of two-storey courtyard house at Wallington under a blue sky
The south front of Wallington, Northumberland | © National Trust Images/Matthew Antrobus

The Blacketts were a Newcastle family who built their wealth from lead and coal mines. They bought Wallington for its land and as a country retreat from their main home at Anderson Place in Newcastle, purchasing it from the greatly indebted Fenwick family. Ten generations of the Blackett and Trevelyan families went on to live here. Discover how some of the estate’s key owners shaped the Wallington we know today.

A country retreat

Sir William Blackett (1657–1705) bought Wallington in 1689 while Sir John Fenwick was imprisoned in the Tower of London for his part in a Jacobite plot against the new King William III or Orange. A few years later Blackett knocked down the unfashionable pele tower and converted the ground floor of the medieval building into cellars.

The new house was very basic, designed for occasional shooting parties rather than as a permanent home. Consisting of four ranges built around an open central courtyard, it would have looked very different to the house we see today.

A corner view of Wallington showing the south front and side of the house
The house at Wallington | © National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

An excess of good cheer

Although the Blacketts knocked down old Fenwick tower, they continued the Fenwick tradition of hospitality towards their visitors. Sir William's son, also named Sir William Blackett (1690–1728) took this tradition to excess and allegedly employed six men simply to carry him and his drunken guests to bed after their grand parties.

Upon his death Sir William (the younger) left debts of £105,000 and an illegitimate daughter, Elizabeth Ord.

Wallington would then pass to Sir William’s nephew Walter Calverley (1707–77) on the condition that Walter married his cousin Elizabeth and adopted the family name of Blackett. Walter agreed and in 1728 Wallington was passed to the 21-year-old.

Oil painting on canvas, Lancelot (`Capability?) Brown (1715?1783, after Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland RA (London 1735 ? Winchester 1811), circa 1775. A head-and-shoulders portrait of a man, tuirned to the left, gazing at the spectator, wearing a blue jacket and white cravat, grey powdered wig.
Lancelot`Capability' Brown by Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland | © National Trust

Redesigning Wallington House

Much of Wallington as we know it today is down to the vision of Sir Walter Calverley Blackett and –almost certainly – his educated and discerning wife Elizabeth. They had the interior of the house completely remodelled, commissioning some of the greatest artisans to transform Wallington into their principal home.

New additions

They invited the Swiss-Italian stuccodore, Pietro Lafranchini, to create the stunning Rococo plasterwork in the south wing.

Corridors were added and a new impressive staircase was created. Sir Walter Calverley and Lady Blackett were also responsible for the Clock Tower, which dominates Wallington's courtyard.

A view of Rothley Lake at Wallington, Northumberland, on an autumn day; the water is surrounded by foliage and the leaves on the trees are turning golden yellow and orange
Rothley Lake in autumn | © National Trust Images / Andrew Butler

Re-designing the estate

He also had the gardens and estate extensively redesigned with pleasure grounds and more trees and he installed many of the water courses and ponds. Much of this work is still visible in the East and West Woods.

Among the many figures involved in the redesign of Wallington was Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, who grew up in the local area and attended school in Cambo. He was responsible for designing the pleasure grounds at Rothley Lake and may also have contributed to the work in the East and West Woods.

The Trevelyans at Wallington

Sir Walter’s children died before him, so Wallington passed to his sister’s son: Sir John Trevelyan.

The estate stayed in the family until it was eventually gifted to the National Trust for by Sir Charles Philips Trevelyan, a Socialist MP and ‘illogical Englishman’, in 1942.

A corner view of Wallington showing the south front and side of the house

Discover more at Wallington

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

You might also be interested in

Room view of the Drawing Room at Wallington, Northumberland

Things to do in the house at Wallington 

Step inside the house to uncover the fascinating stories of those who lived here, told through their collection of artworks, books, ceramics and curiosities.

The Mary Pool ornamental pond in Wallington's Walled Garden

Things to see and do in the garden at Wallington 

Discover the colourful, fragrant plants in the Walled Garden, take in the different spaces and areas and look out for the peaceful Mary Pool.

A family enjoying the café in summer

Eating and shopping at Wallington 

Stop by the Clocktower Café at Wallington for a selection of hot and cold drinks, and homemade bakes. Then browse the shop for gifts, books, homewares and more.

A family play on and around the large play train in the woods at Wallington.

Family activities at Wallington 

From a cycling trail and adventure playground to wildlife watching and ‘50 things’ adventures, discover the family activities to keep children entertained at Wallington.

A lake at dawn or dusk with a grand house reflected in it, surrounded by tall green reeds and trees

How to spot a ‘Capability’ Brown landscape 

Brown designed landscapes that fitted in seamlessly with the surrounding countryside. So how do you spot the designs of one of the greatest gardeners of all time?

A colourful tapestry of a Cambridgeshire landscape, with buildings in the centre and the words Newmarket above


Learn about people from the past, discover remarkable works of art and brush up on your knowledge of architecture and gardens.

Octavia Hill (1838 - 1912) (after John Singer Sargent) by Reginald Grenville Eves, RA (London 1876 ¿ Middleton in Teesdale 1941)


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.

King Egfrid and Bishop Trumwine persuade Cuthbert to be made Bishop (One of a series of eight oil paintings illustrating the history of the English Border) by William Bell Scott

Wallington's collections 

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