Hidden Northumberland: Howick Hall & Gardens

Home to a 19th century social reformer.

Built in 1782, Howick Hall is the (former) seat of the Earls Grey. The most notable resident was Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, Prime Minister of the UK 1830-34. Perhaps better known for lending his name to Earl Grey Tea! A Whig Politician (Liberal), his government oversaw the Great Reform Act of 1832 which reformed the House of Commons and the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 which largely ended slavery throughout the British Empire by 1838. To date, he is the only UK Prime Minister to have hailed from Northumberland.

The west wing of the house is still inhabited by descendants of Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, but are of a different branch of the family that does not inherit the title, ‘Earl Grey’. The extensive gardens and arboretum are open to the public. Spring is a good time to visit the gardens as a number of spring plants are in flower, such as daffodils, rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias.

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A fire in 1926 devastated the interior of the main hall and it largely had to be rebuilt. The restoration was completed by 1928 and is recorded in the artwork above the main entrance.

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Inscription on the side of the tomb of Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, in Howick Parish Church

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Magnolia (left) and Camellia in full bloom

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The gardens are home to many different varieties of Rhododendrons that flower in spring. The photograph at the bottom is of Rhododendron Sinogrande which was flowering for only the second time since it was planted in 1990. (That’s a long time to be taking stock!)