The Blacketts and the history of Wallington
The Blacketts were a wealthy Newcastle family of mine owners and shipping magnates. They bought Wallington as a country retreat, purchasing it from the Fenwick family, with whom they shared a love of parties and Jacobite sympathies. 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 1688 as a country retreat away from the family's main home at Anderson Place, Newcastle. He 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.
An excess of good cheer
Although the Blacketts knocked down the Fenwick house, 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 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 £77,000 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 Elizabeth and adopted the family name of Blackett. Walter agreed and in 1728 Wallington was passed to the 21-year-old.
Redesigning Wallington House
Much of Wallington as we know it today is down to the vision of Sir Walter Calverley Blackett. He had the house completely remodelled, commissioning some of the greatest artisans to transform Wallington into his principal home.
He 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 Blackett was also responsible for the Clock Tower, which dominates Wallington's courtyard.
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.
Step inside the house to uncover the fascinating stories of those who lived here, told through their collection of artworks, books, ceramics and curiosities.
Discover the colourful, fragrant plants in the Walled Garden, take in the different spaces and areas and look out for the peaceful Mary Pool.
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.
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