Black Dene House to Boutique Hotel
We consider ourselves very lucky to have this beautiful old house on our doorstep! Jesmond Dene House has a well-documented history. Today it has become a hotel. Although I have never stayed overnight, I have enjoyed its ambience by merely popping in for coffee or booking an evening meal in its excellent restaurant. I love to visit these old houses and this was a real treat! It fits right into our heritage vision.
Jesmond Dene House In June
I first visited Jesmond Dene House for the occasion of my daughter’s thirtieth birthday celebration in June. It was mid-summer, and we sat in the garden with our cocktails. Our family are based away from Newcastle, so there was a lot of catching up chat! I remember feeling happily content to have my family around me on such a beautiful evening. The garden was peaceful, and behind us, we could hear the waterfall in the Dene. We had such a great evening that when some friends were visiting in September and wanted to mark the occasion, I suggested we eat at Jesmond Dene House.
Jesmond Dene Road
My visit was just as enjoyable second time around. Because Jesmond isn’t far from where I live, I decided to begin my evening by walking to the restaurant. It was a damp evening in late September. Our table was booked for seven-thirty, so as I arrived, it was quite dark. Fortunately, the house isn’t far from the main road. When I turned off Matthew Bank, it did feel like I had turned into a much older part of Jesmond. I could smell the damp old stone (always a good sign)! I found it a little bit spooky walking in the dark areas between the lamposts. The house is on Jesmond Dene Road, and traffic is restricted, the road is very quiet.
As I walked through the carpark, I could hear music from the party in the great hall. However, as I walked into the house, I was immediately swallowed into the lovely tranquil atmosphere. It was fourteen years ago in September 2005 that the house opened as a hotel. This occasion was marked this year with a refurbishment of the restaurant. My visit was well timed for a meal in the freshly decorated dining room.
Photograph c Newcastle Libraries Taken 1964 when the building was used as a Special School. Note architectural variety
Here Comes The History!
In 1822 Newcastle physician Dr Thomas Healdlam built a house on this site. John Dobson designed the house, and it was called Black Dene. It wasn’t until twenty-nine years later in 1851 when John Dobson redesigned the residence for William Cruddas that it became known as Jesmond Dene House. Jumping ahead twenty years to 1871 and the house has another makeover. The architect of Cragside Norman Shaw significantly enlarges it for Andrew Noble who moved in at this time. The house saw significant changes again in 1896 when Frank Rich, a local architect, rebuilt the premises and changed it to a mansion with 39 rooms. At this time a west wing was added along with, a billiard room, Gothic porch, and Great Hall. (In 1894 Andrew Noble also built a real tennis court (The Jesmond Real Tennis Club) in the grounds of the house, one of only around 50 currently in use worldwide).
Sir Andrew Noble 1st Baronet and esteemed physicist worked with Armstrong’s armaments in Elswick. During his time at Jesmond Dene House, he and his wife Lady Margery entertained important guests. Among these guests were Rudyard Kipling, Baden Powell and the aircraft designer de Havilland.
World War II
Lady Margery Noble died in 1929 at the age of 101. She outlived her husband, Andrew Noble by 14 years. Her hundredth birthday party was the last celebration held at Jesmond Dene House. In 1931 the Newcastle Corporation took over the house, and in World War 11 it was used as an ARP base. After the war, local workers used it as a hostel.
What a treasure!
Jesmond Dene House rates highly for historical merit. It is charmingly decorated throughout. The new colours in the restaurant reflect the leafy garden giving a light and airy feel. I thought this was quite lovely, we were after all, in one of the noted green areas of Newcastle. New patterned wallpaper sits alongside the dark wood panelling to give a relaxed and mellow atmosphere. I arrived before my friends, so I had some time to sit in the panelled wood bar with my glass of wine and soak up the ambience. Our meal was an exquisite, perfectly balanced delight.
As it is the history of places that fascinates me as part of the Discovering Heritage team, I went in search of some historical memorabilia. I found a wall of old photographs and a small photograph album tastefully displayed on a table in the hallway. The album was full of old pictures which helped to tell the historical story of the house.
Incidentally, herbs and fruits from the garden were used in some of the dishes. I liked this throwback to our culinary heritage.
Jesmond Dene House is a local treasure, but don’t just take our word for it. Here are some other blogs to click through!
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