This document has reached its expiry date and the contents cannot be assumed as valid

History of Jesmond Dene

1.0 Introduction

2.0 Study Area
2.1 Location
2.2 Boundaries of Study
2.3 Topography

3.0 Development of Jesmond
3.1 Land ownership
3.2 Map descriptions of Jesmond Dene 1769 - 1841
3.2.1 Armstrong's map of Northumberland 1769
3.2.2 Fryer's map of Northumberland 1820
3.2.3 Greenwood's map of Northumberland 1828
3.2.4 1834 plan of Jesmond Grove estate

4.0 Development of Jesmond Dene
4.1 Land use before construction of Lord Armstrong's pleasure grounds.
4.2 Stone quarry
4.3 Busy Cottage
4.4 Coal mining in Jesmond Dene
4.5 Chapel of St. Mary
4.6 Jesmond Dene springs - St. Mary's Well
4.7 Jesmond Mill
4.8 Comment

5.0 The Landscaping of Jesmond Dene
5.1 Lord and Lady Armstrong Victorian industrialist gardeners
5.2 The 'woodland garden'
5.3. Jesmond Dene
5.4 Jesmond Dene House a 'woodland garden' added to Jesmond Dene
5.6 Comment

6.0 Development of Jesmond Dene as a Municipal Park
6.1 Donation of Jesmond Dene for a public park
6.2 Additional land acquisition
6.3 Lord and Lady Armstrong benefactors to the City of Newcastle
6.4 Opening of Armstrong Park
6.5 Management regimes

7.0 Layout Design of Jesmond Dene
7.1 Map descriptions Jesmond Dene
7.2 OS 1858 - 9 edition
7.3 Plan of The Armstrong Park Newcastle upon Tyne 1884
7.4 OS 1898 edition
7.5 OS 1916 edition
7.6 OS 1941 edition
7.7 OS 1957, 1968, 1979, 1988 editions

8.0 Planting
8.1 Maturity of trees
8.2 Effects of pollution
8.3 Ground cover
8.4 Impact of the trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants 1894
8.4.1 Aucubas
8.4.2 Berberis
8.4.3 Conifers
8.4.4 Cotoneaster
8.4.5 Commemorative trees
8.4.6 Deciduous shrubs
8.4.7 Elm
8.4.8 Ericas and Callunas
8.4.9 Herbaceous plants
8.4.10 Hollies
8.4.11 Rhododendrons and Azaleas
8.4.12 Yews
8.5 Summary list of trees, shrubs and plants described in Jesmond Dene in 1894

9. Features
9.1 Landscape Features
9.1.2 Colman's Field
9.1.3 Grottos
9.1.4 Pet's corner
9.1.5 Quarry Garden
9.1.6 Recreation field
9.2 Water Features
9.2.1 Boating Lake
9.2.2 Cascades
9.2.3 Waterfall
9.3 Buildings
9.3.1 Banqueting Hall (listed Grade II)
9.3.2 Castle Farm
9.3.3 Crag Hall
9.3.4 Davison's Mill
9.3.5 Gatehouse to Banqueting Hall (listed Grade II)
9.3.6 Glasshouses
9.3.7 Heaton Dene House
9.3.8 High Heaton Farm
9.3.9 Jesmond Dene House (listed Grade II)
9.3.10 Jesmond Dene Mill
9.3.11 Jesmond Park
9.3.12 Jesmond Towers (listed Grade II)
9.3.13 Lodges
High South Lodge
North West Lodge
North Lodge
South Lodge
9.3.14 St. Mary's Chapel (listed Grade II *)
9.3.15 St. Mary's Well (Scheduled Ancient Monument)
9.3.16 Stotes Hall
9.4.0 Bridges
9.4.1 Armstrong Bridge (listed Grade II)
9.4.2 Castle Farm Bridge (listed Grade II)
9.4.3 Bridge to west of Jesmond Dene Mill (listed Grade II)
9.4.4 Footbridge north east of Banqueting Hall (listed Grade II)
9.4.5 Footbridge crossing the Ouseburn south of Red Walk (listed Grade II)
9.4.6 Other footbridges
9.5 Furnishings
9.6 Roads and Drives
9.7 Sports facilities

10.0 Use of Jesmond Dene

11.0 Comment

12.0 Appendices
Historic photographs
Location map of views in historic photographs
Contemporary photographs
Location map of views in contemporary photographs

13.0 Sources
Published Sources

Sweet Jesmond Dene

O, Jesmond Dene! sweet Jesmond Dene!
Fair art thou in thy dress of green!
Thy flowery banks and walks between
Are sylvan beauties, Jesmond Dene
Thy brook that runs with murmuring sound,
Thy leafy glen so peaceful found, Thy wells, thy ruin, Jesumound,
Win heart to thee, sweet Jesmond Dene,
The bridges that throw o'er thy stream
Their span of rustic arch and beam,
Recall to mind some fairy dream,
It must be thine, sweet Jesmond Dene.

T.J. Warby c.1890

Jesmond Dene

Thou fair lovely den, with thy rippling burn,
Surpassing in beauty at every turn,
Thy forest of verdure in serried ranks,
Thy meandering walks and thy flowery banks,
Say, where shall Elysian glades be found
To rival thy valley, oh Jesumound?
Oh for a Wordsworth! Oh for a Scott!
To give thee a voice, thou beautiful spot.

J. Horsley c.1890

Jesmond Dene

Newcastle upon Tyne

Historical Research


Leisure Services Department
Newcastle City Council

by Fiona Green


Archival Sources

Brian Darke Personal collection of photographs
FOJD Friends of Jesmond Dene
NCL&A Newcastle City Libraries and Arts
TWA Tyne & Wear Archives


Newcastle City Library : Seymour Bell Collection Folio 12 - Jesmond no.15

Armstrong's map of Northumberland 1769
Fryer's map of Northumberland 1820
Greenwood's map of Northumberland 1828
1834 plan of Jesmond Grove estate
OS 1858 - 9 edition 25" scale
Plan of The Armstrong Park Newcastle upon Tyne 1884
OS 1898 edition 25" scale
OS 1916 edition 25" scale
OS 1941 edition 25" scale
OS 1957 edition 1: 10,000 scale
OS 1968 edition 1: 10,000 scale
OS 1979 edition 1: 10,000 scale
OS 1988 edition 1: 10,000 scale


Tyne & Wear Archives - Armstrong Papers

DF/A/7/1 - 24 Personal and Family none re-Jesmond Dene.

DF/A/7 - 8 Letter from Hilborough 'Ogles Nursery' re. plants for Cragside 1884

DF/A/11/1 Letters Lord Armstrong to Lady Armstrong April - May 1843
about fishing
DF/A/11/ 2 - 7 Letters Lord Armstrong to Lady Armstrong 1845 - 1852
nothing on the gardens
DF/A/11/ 8 - 11 Letters Lord Armstrong to Lady Armstrong 1853 - 1856
nothing on the gardens
DF/A/12 Letters to Lady Armstrong from various authors
Personal, no refs. to gardens.
DF/A/11/24 Letters Lord Armstrong to Lady Armstrong 1874 - 1879
Pre-occupied with his own interests, nothing on gardens.

Guide books
Official Guide to Newcastle upon Tyne Oliver 7th ed.

Gardeners Magazine Craigside July 1870 p.398
Gardener's Chronicle Cragside September 11 1880 pp.325,326
Gardener's Chronicle Public Parks at Newcastle June 16 1894
Busy Cottage Ironworks Friends of Jesmond Dene Newsletter September 1990 no.27

Newcastle Daily Journal 4.9.1893
Newcastle Daily Journal 21.8.1884
Jesmond Dene in 1825 by Robert Gilchrist a local poet. Newspaper Cuttings relating to Newcastle Vol 2.p.59
Jesmond Dene Grounds given to the Public 9.2.1883 Local Newspaper Cuttings Vol.63 p.117
Jesmond Dene Newcastle, Complete Control vested in the Corporation Local Newspaper Cuttings Vol.59 B p.259
The Old Mill Jesmond Newspaper Cuttings relating to Newcastle Vol 2.p.58
Dene Mill to be a controlled ruin Evening Chronicle 30.9.1981
When does forever come to an end? Newcastle Journal 13.6.1970
The Cherry Bridge Newspaper Cuttings relating to Newcastle V2. p.164

Cuttings -Newcastle City Library
Local Characters of Some Importance Paddy Freeman Local Historical Items V21 p.111

Newcastle City Library

Published sources

Brand,J History and Antiquities of the town and county of Newcastle upon Tyne B. White & Son 1789

Bourne, H. The History of Newcastle upon Tyne and the Ancient and Present state of that town. (1736) Newcastle upon Tyne

Bruce, Rev. JC Handbook to Newcastle upon Tyne 1863

Charleton, R.J. A History of Newcastle upon Tyne from the earliest record to it's foundation as a City. 1885

Dendy, F.W. An Account of Jesmond.(1904) Archaelogia Aeliana 3 Series. Vol 1.

Dixon,H Cragside - Northumberland National Trust 1992

Dodds,MH A History of Northumberland vol.18 1930

Donald, J Not just bricks and mortar

Dougan David, The Great Gun Maker - The story of Lord Armstrong 1971[?]
Frank Graham

Gray, W Chorographia or Survey of Newcastle upon Tyne 1649 reprint 1970
Mackenzie,E A descriptive and historical account of the town and county of Newcastlen upon Tyne 2. vols Mackenzie and Dent 1827
Meadows, P Lost Houses of Northumberland and Newcastle

Newcastle upon Bygone Jesmond 1987
Tyne City Libraries

Newcastle City Jesmond Dene Trail c.1980?

Reid, Andrew Record of the Royal Visit - Jesmond Dene compiled by Town Clerk Newcastle 1884

Robinson, William English Flower Garden London 1899

Sheeran, G Landscape Gardens in West Yorkshire 1991

Wilson, J Uses and Beauties of Trees 1889

Young, M Jesmond Dene Newcastle Life 1979

Photographs - Newcastle City Library

Title Date Acc. no.

Waterfall n.d. 6182 none

Stepping stones n.d. 66183 none

Stepping stone n.d. 66019 none
(opp. direction)

Gen. view n.d. 66186 (colour) none

Copy of etching n.d. 8821 13/8/89

Copy of w.colour 1820 3687 13/12/82

Engraving of Dene 1834 40202 1/10/83

Painting of J. Mill 1861 44206 22.8.83
by Jane Bewick (colour)
daughter of
Thomas Bewick

Frith view Mill 1888 56676 none
Mill House c.1890 40053 none

Swan pool c.1890 5361 11/5/89 0056/L61

Photgraphic Society visit c.1895 44183 15/6/83 LSD2
Planting detail c.1900 10129 none

Planting detail c.1900 46462 9418

Path/planting detail c.1900 33070 2/10.83 8670/B414
Planting detail c.1910 30289 6521/B413

Planting detail 37557 L30
shrubs/open area
Planting / ferns c.1910 29677 5955/B399

Waterside planting c.1900 37460 82/10/92

Herbaceous planting c.1930 30340 6/10/83

Park keepers c.1900 37676 L105

J.Dene view to c.1900 2977 none

Deep Dene 53707 31/10/89

Waterfall and rocks c.1910 15605 13/12/82

Rustic Bridge 1930(?) 30344 6/10/83 3948/B392

Entrance gates c.1930 21328 none

Lodge c.1930 2978 none

Grassed area 56653 none

Grassed area 1981 49633 none

Entrance tunnel 1971 41484 none
Concert 1984 46263 none


Jesmond Dene is registered by English Heritage as an Historic Park of Special Historic Interest in England Grade II.

Listed Buildings
Banqueting Hall Grade II
Jesmond Dene House Grade II
Jesmond Towers Grade II
St. Mary's Chapel Grade II* Scheduled Ancient Monument
St. Mary's Well Grade II Scheduled Ancient Monument
Armstrong Bridge Grade II
Castle Farm Bridge Grade II
Bridge to west of Jesmond Dene Mill Grade II
Footbridge north east of Banqueting Hall Grade II
Footbridge crossing the Ouseburn south of
Red Walk Grade II

Sites and Monumnets Record
Food Vessels from Crag Hall no.360
? cremation in food vessels from Crag Hall no.361
2 cists from Crag Hall no.147
Heaton Water Mill no.1402
St. Mary's Chapel no.145
St. Mary's Well no.146
Site of Stotes Hall no.1407
Benton Bridge no.1408


Brian Darke Park Keeper, Heaton Park, Newcastle City Council
Friends of Jesmond Dene Archives
Andrew Sawyer National Trust, Head Gardener, Cragside
Tyne & Wear Archives County Archives
Newcastle City Libraries & Arts Local Studies Section
Northumberland Record Office County Archives
Dr. Tom Yellowley Personal archives

1.0 Introduction

The research was commissioned by Community and Leisure Services, Newcastle City Council in preparation for a feasibility study prior to making a bid to the National Heritage Memorial Fund Urban Parks Programme.
The first part of the study covers three adjoining areas used for recreation; Armstrong Park, Heaton Park and Jesmond Vale. This research covers Jesmond Dene which is part of the north section of the valley and is divided from the parks at the southern end by a road, Benton Bank.. The interlinked parks form a linear green spine north east of the City of Newcastle upon Tyne. The study area is in a valley which is divided by the River Ouseburn an area used for public recreation to varying degrees for over a century. Heaton Park was formed after Newcastle City Council purchased part of Heaton Hall estate in 1879. The same year Sir W.G Armstrong donated a large area of adjacent land which became Armstrong Park. In 1883 Sir W.G Armstrong offered Jesmond Dene, the landscaped grounds to his house, to Newcastle City and this was incorporated with Armstrong Park. In the meantime the fields in Jesmond Vale were used informally for recreation and purchased in degrees by the City Council.

Back to top

2.0 Study Area

The study area extends in a narrow band from Armstrong Bridge at the south to Dene Bridge at the north end. The area is covered on Ordnance Survey Sheet NZ 26 NE 1:10,000 scale.

2.1 Location
Jesmond Dene is almost two miles north east from the centre of Newcastle. The river Ouseburn a tributary to the Tyne flows through the dene and particularly during the 18th century, provided power for various mills. However, coal mining appears to have been a more lucrative activity in the area and there were numerous mines. Jesmond, which is approximately half a mile west of Jesmond Dene developed when it became a fashionable area for wealthy industrialists to live.

2.2 Boundaries of Study
Jesmond Dene is a steeply sided dene which is bordered by housing development. On the west the suburbs of Jesmond abut Jesmond Dene Road which runs along the entire boundary. The east of the dene forms a boundary to the back gardens of the residential areas of north Heaton. The recreation ground Paddy Freeman's fields is on higher ground and is adjacent to extensive playing fields with rough pasture directly to the north. The north end of Jesmond Dene is narrow and crossed by Haddricksmill Bridge.

2.3 Topography
As with the study of Heaton and Armstrong Parks and Jesmond Vale, Jesmond Dene is part of the OuseburnBreeze,A A Celtic Etymology for 'Ouseburn', Newcastle Archaeologia Aeliana 5th Series, Vol XXVI valley which is a dene formed by the Ouseburn, a glacial stream which came from Callerton Fell near Ponteland. Jesmond Dene is considerably narrower than the public park to the south and the sides of the valley are steep.

Back to top

3.0 Development of Jesmond

The earliest known human activity in Jesmond Dene was revealed by the discovery in 1844 of two small prehistoric burial chambers in the garden of Crag Hall. The chambers contained vessels one of which held human remains. Apart from coal mining in the area most of the land in Jesmond was used for pasture before the fast rise in requirement for housing engulfed the village in the mid 19th century.

3.1 Land ownership
In 1272 Adam de Jesmont was recorded as holding Jesmond in the barony of Gaugy. By 1545 King Edward VI (d.1553) had granted the Newcastle priory of nuns and lands in Jesmond to Sir William Barintine. The land ownership was divided over subsequent years between various parties. The Ord family owned parts of Jesmond and in 1669 Sir Francis Anderson with others sold lands to William Coulson. Coulson's family retained property in the area until 1808 when the estates were dispersed among John Anderson and others.
At the beginning of the 19th century, agricultural land in Jesmond became valuable building land as it was so close to the city. Consequently the wealthy residential suburb of Jesmond developed rapidly. In 1815 part of the Warwick estate was sold; Chance Field on which Jesmond Dean, Lord Armstrong's house, was built and Little Close where Jesmond Grove and the ruins of St. Mary's chapel stand. Other notable properties which arose were Villa Real (later Sandyford Park) built 1817 and Black Dene House (later Jesmond Dene House) built 1822.
The land where Busy Cottage was located belonged to Sir Matthew Ridley White Ridley until c.1860 when it was purchased by Armstrong to form part of the landscaped grounds to complement 'Jesmond Dean'.

3.2 Map Descriptions of Jesmond 1769 - 1841

3.2.1 Armstrong's map of Northumberland 1769
The 'Ewesburn' is shown running around the northern edge of 'Gofforth' before taking a route due south. It winds through a tree covered valley to the east of Jesmond and Sandyford, before joining the Tyne to the west of 'Biker' about a mile to the east of Newcastle.
Within the Jesmond area, 'Stot Hall', the residence of Coulson Esq., is shown to the west of the dene and Busy Cottage is indicated to the east. Heaton Hall, the residence of Ridley Esq. is about half a mile downstream from the lane which runs between Sandyford and Benton.

3.2.2 Fryer's map of Northumberland 1820
The map reflects the increase in mining activity around Newcastle at this time with Heaton High Pit and a colliery near Jesmond both indicated in proximity to the dene. A path runs adjacent to the Ouseburn, starting on the west side at Haddrick's Mill then soon after crossing the burn to run along the east side, joining the lane between Sandyford and Benton immediately to the south of Busy Cottage.

3.2.3 Greenwood's map of Northumberland 1828
The majority of Jesmond Dene is defined by woodland with open land in the region of Colman's Field. The location of sites is somewhat arbitrary but the Tea Gardens, Iron Foundry and Busy Cottage are shown.

3.2. 1834 plan of Jesmond Grove Estate N.C.L. Seymour Bell Folio 12 - Jesmond no.15
This shows a small section of Jesmond Dene. Jesmond Grove estate is located adjacent to the western bank of the Ouseburn. A road runs through the area bounded by a wedge of woodland which runs between it and the Ouseburn. There are two cottages and a public house with tea gardens fronting onto the burn. A footpath is shown on the opposite bank of the Ouseburn suggesting that there might have been a crossing to the public house. A drive leads from the road through gates to Jesmond Grove, a substantial residence. The pleasure ground gardens are located to the west of the house and St. Mary's Chapel ruins in woodland immediately to the east. Chance Field, the future site for the construction of Jesmond Dean, Sir William Armstrong's home, is shown to north.

Back to top

4.0 Development of Jesmond

4.1. Land use before construction of pleasure grounds
Mackenzie describes Jesmond Dene in 1825 as offering rural beauties to which the local community would resort for walks on summer evenings and he stated that John Anderson had formed some new plantations that add much to its appearance at his residence Jesmond House (gazetteer 1). Mackenzie also mentioned recently planted woodland at 'West Jesmond' (gazetteer 2 ) , the property of Sir Thomas Burdon. (see fig.1)

4.2 Stone quarry
A deserted quarry is located at the north of Jesmond Dene below sandstone cliffs called Blackberry Crag (gazetteer3). The quarry was not commented on by local historians such as Bourne and Mackenzie and seems to have been abandoned before their time.

4.3 Busy Cottage
The Newcastle Directory of 1778 records an ironmonger called Thomas Menham at The Close. In 1790 Whitehead's directory records Thomas Menham, Iron and Brass Foundry, Busy Cottage (gazetteer 4). However Menham died that year and an advertisement in the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle provides a good impression of the property Busy Cottage Forge and Foundry to be sold to the highest bidder - all that valuable forge and foundry known by the name of Busy Cottage - there is a good dwelling house, brew house, cold bath, several houses for workmen and a garden well planted with fruit treesBusy Cottage Ironworks JDW Livingstone Jesmond Dene Newsletter - September 1990 no.27 p.4.

By 1801 the foundry was recorded as being run by the Sorsbie family who had previous connections with iron founding in Sheffieldibid. Livingstone. In 1824 the lease of Busy Cottage was taken by Robert Rayne and his company in partnership with David Burn expanded considerably, probably making articles for collieries. They may have been responsible for a small bridge which carried the Tanfield Railway over Causey Burn which is inscribed Rayne and Burn 1848 Newcastle. A painting in 1832 by T.M. Richardson shows a view of 'Busy Cottage Ironworks' with a number of chimneys smoking through the trees bearing witness to the thriving industry which by 1855 was in decline. The mill was shown on the 1858 OS as a cornmill.

The small settlement of Busy Cottage was referred to in 1825 by Mackenzie At a short distance above Benton-Bridge, and on the north side of the burn, lies the small, pleasant village called Busy Cottage, enclosed on each side by steep and lofty banks. Here is an iron forge and rolling-mill, carried on by Mr.Robert Raine. The beauty of this place; has been augmented by the late Mr. Dewar's new and extensive tea and fruit gardens. This parcel of ground, which Mr. Dewar purchased with the savings of industry, affords an honourable proof of skill and labour. An unseemly pit-heap, which covered part of the ground, was removed, and the whole brought into a surprising state of order and fruitfulness, producing an abundance of delicious fruits for the refreshment of numerous parties who visit this delightful spot. At the east end of the garden Mr. Dewar erected a convenient house, for the entertainment of company. The interior is neatly fitted up, and commands a most delightful prospect of Heaton, seated amidst an amphitheatre of wood, and of the meanderings of the Ouse Burn; while, on the other hand, the town of Newcastle, Fenham, the moor, and the adjoining village, constitute one of the pleasantest views imaginable. (see fig.2)

4.4 Coal mining In Jesmond Dene
The plan of Heaton Estate with the old pits & coC18th (no date). NRO ZR1 50 / 9 shows the sites of pits from Heaton up to up to the north of Jesmond Dene at Cragg Hall PitGreen, F Heaton and Armstrong Parks and Jesmond Vale, Newcastle upon Tyne. 1997. There were numerous references to coal pits in Jesmond as illustrated by the following entry On 8 May 1725, on the journey of Lord Harley, afterwards second Earl of Oxford, (through Northumberland, rode a little out of the direct road to Morpeth to see his estate about Jesmond where there are several collieriesProceedings of the Society of Antiquaries 3rd series Vol.X p260..

4.5 Chapel of St. Mary (listed Grade II*)
The chapel of St. Mary is located on a mound which was divided from Jesmond Dene by a smaller dene, Moor Crook Letch (gazetteer 5). The chapel is thought to have been built during the twelfth century by the Grenvilles who were landowners in Jesmond. They may have brought back holy relics from the crusades which were displayed at the chapel. This is suggested by Gray who stated Pilgrim-Street-Gate ; so called because of pilgrims lodging in that street and went out of that gate to the shrine of the Virgin Mary at Gesmond; to which place, with great confidence and devotion, people came from all parts of this land, in the time of superstitionGray's Chorographia p.7. The shrine was also mentioned in the will of a rector in Yorkshire who made provision for pilgrims to travel after his death to a number of holy places including the Blessed Mary of Jesmowntcited Dendy Test.Ebor., 45 Surtees Society, p.201.
The first known reference to the building came in 1272 when a cleric Robert Sautmareis and three accomplices attacked a merchant in Newcastle and were later jailed. The men were rescued and one, Robert de Virili, was hidden at Jesmond chapel before being taken to sanctuary at Tynemouth Dendy, F.W.An Account of Jesmond. (1904) Archaelogia Aeliana 3 Series. Vol.1 .
The chapel was inherited in 1333 by three daughters of Richard Emeldon. However, claims to the 'living' of the chapel were contentious for many years until Edward III demanded an inquisition to clarify ownership in 1364 and required that the result was recorded in Chancery. In 1483 Richard II presented the chapel to Dr. Roby and by 1526 it was presented to William Weldon who was incumbent when the chapel was dissolved in 1548. The certificate of dissolved chantry reveals the status of the chapel at the time The Free Chapell of Our Lady of Jesmonde within the sayd Parishe of Seint Androwe. [Blank] Welton, Incumbent, who is not resident there, nor no Devyne service used, being in distance from the parishe churche Is.. myles and more. Noe landes, &c. solde, &c. [since 1537]. Plate, none. Goodes, nonecited Dendy 22 Surtees Society, App.7, p.lxxxii. By 1575 the chapel was in the possession of William Brandlingcited Dendy Court of Wards, Misc. Books, vol. cclxxxvii.folio 96.
The Proceedings of Newcastle Corporation recorded in 1883 that by 1815 the land belonged to Mr. James Losh and it was subsequently acquired by Messrs. Anderson who sold it to Mr. William George Armstrong (later the first Lord Armstrong). In 1883 when the land was given to Newcastle upon Tyne the chapel was linked to the Banqueting Hall by a subway through a shrubbery.
There are also references to a hospital near the chapel although it seems to have been a small building at the time of Bourne (1736). In 1825 Robert Gilchrist wrote We stopped to look at the ancient monastery, which is deservedly held sacred in the memory of those who erected so fair a monument of their piety and munificences. Near to the monastery is a fine well of water, as which it is said (with great probability) Joseph of Aramathea once took a drink, and declared the water to be excellent. From this period the well became a place of pilgrimage, and hence the erection of the monastery. Close to the well is a bath which goes down with twelve steps (being the number of the Apostles). Tradition says that on the bath being formed the water ceased to flowThe bath was built as a garden feature by Mr. Coulson when he owned the land during the 18th century (Dendy).. The vulgar attribute this to a wrong use being made of the water, and, of course, the bath fell into disuse and neglect. Whatever truth there may be in the foregoing narrative, one thing is certain, that the water is truly "excellent" and the enchanting situation in which it is placed entitles it to a pilgrimage even at this dayJesmond Dene in 1825 Newspaper Cuttings relating to Newcastle Vol. 2.p.59 .

In 1929 the Council took action with His Majesty's Commissioner of Works to take steps under the Ancient Monuments Act to ensure preservation of the well due to the development of housing in the vicinityProceedings of Newcastle City Council 23.1.1929. The site of the well was designated as an ancient monument in 1932 and was excavated in 1982.
Today (1999) a service is held annually in the chapel and the building is decorated with candles and flowers by local residents. (see fig. 38 )

4.6 Jesmond Dene Springs - St. Mary's Well
In 1827 three springs were described in the vicinity of St.Mary's ChapelMackenzie, E History of Newcastle 1827 (gazetteer 6) . One was located between Jesmond Manor House and Jesmond Grove and called St. Mary's Well. Another was found behind an entrance lodge to Jesmond Grove and this was accessible to the public through a tunnel under Jesmond Dene Road. The third was below the walls of the chapel and thought to be the original St. Mary's well.

Brand noted in 1789Brand 1789 Vol.1 p.620-621 that St. Mary's Well was enclosed by Mr. Coulson who made a bathing place in the well, whereupon the water was said to have stopped flowing The well was always esteemed more sanctity than common wells, and therefore the failing of the water could be looked upon as nothing less that a just revenge for so great a profanation. But alas! The miracle's at an end, for the water returned a while ago in as great abundance as ever.

4.7 Jesmond Dene Mill (listed Grade II)
Referred to variously as Old Mill, Jesmond Mill, the building was titled Heaton Mill on the 1858 OS. The mill is located on the north side of the Ouseburn and is thought to have existed since the 13th century (gazetteer 7). The mill was taken over in 1795 by a family of millers called Freeman from Gateshead. Patrick Freeman was recorded as a tenant farmer of Sir Matthew White Ridley in directories of the 1820s and 1830s. Patrick Freeman I is thought to have died c.1840 as by 1841 the census shows the mill was occupied by a Patrick Freeman who was 20. The name of the millers may have inspired the naming of the Paddy Freeman fields.

In 1856 local directories show that the mill was worked by Mr. Pigg who used it to make a type of pig feed called pollards from spoilt grain. By 1857 the next lesee Charlton, adapted the building as a flint mill providing flint for a pottery downstream. The mill was sold to Sir William Armstrong who did not work it. The Freemans were recorded farming in the area until 1871Local Characters of Some Importance JDW Livingstone n.d. Local Historical Items V21 p111.

In 1899 the Parks Committee received a letter raising concerns regarding the condition of mill wheel at old mill at north end of dene. It was suggested that it should be repaired and that if a water run was restored it would be even better26.6.1899 TWA MD/NC 144 / 2 . In 1981 Newcastle City Council arrived at a decision that the mill should be administered as a controlled ruinEvening Chronicle 30.9.1981. (see figs.3 - 6)

4.8 Comment
Once coal mining decreased in Jesmond Dene the mills were the only industry in evidence. The dene appears to have been adopted as a pleasant place for walking by 1825 when it was visited by Robert Gilchrist ... This valley can boast some of the finest scenery in the North of England, being most delightlfully diversified with wood and water, forming some beautiful walks....Jesmond Dene in 1825 Newspaper Cuttings relating to Newcastle Vol 2.p.59 . The steep terrain was unsuitable for housebuilding and this ensured the preservation of the dene until it was enhanced as Lord Armstrong's pleasure grounds before it became a public park.

Back to top

5.0 The Landscaping of Jesmond Dene

5.1 Lord and Lady Armstrong Victorian industrialist gardeners.
Sir William George Armstrong (1810 - 1900) was born in Shieldfield, Newcastle upon Tyne. He was the son a corn merchant and was trained as a solicitor before developing his interests as an inventor. His first significant invention was a hydraulic crane then he began working on water driven electric generators. His career as an armament manufacturer grew with the introduction of the Armstrong Field Gun. (see fig.7)

In 1835 Armstrong married Margaret Ramshaw (1807 - 93) from Bishop Auckland, Co. Durham. (see fig.8) Their house, Jesmond Dean (demolished c.1930), was built the year of their marriage but the name of the architect has not come to light (gazetteer 8). Once installed in the new property the Armstrongs purchased parcels of land along an area later called Jesmond Dene and extended the pleasure grounds to their house, Jesmond Dean. On completion of the land acquisitions they owned a large proportion of Jesmond Dene with the north end bordered by the gardens of Jesmond Dene House and the south defined by Benton BankArmstrong was left land by Armourer Donkin south of Benton Bank in 1857 T&W Archives 170/1/1 and over the next ten years Armstrong purchased much of the White Ridley Estate 170/1/1 -68 .

The legendary figure of Lord Armstrong dominates documentation of their occupation of Jesmond Dean and Cragside. It is apparent from his letters to Margaret that he spent a vast amount of time away from homeTWA/DF/A/11 . Although he made numerous references to his hobbies such as collecting art, fishing and other domestic matters he did not discuss gardening with her in correspondence. Lady Armstrong's role as a Victorian wife appears to have kept her character shrouded in mystery as there are few revelations about her private interests.

However, there are references to her involvement with the management of laying out the pleasure grounds at Jesmond Dene and Cragside and to her correspondence with Mackenzie & Moncur of Edinburgh regarding glasshouses for CragsideDixon, H Cragside - Northumberland National Trust 1992. Her obituary in the Newcastle Daily Journal provides an invaluable insight of her interests, It is well known that the planting and landscape gardening of Jesmond Dene, which, since it has been munificently made over to the people of Newcastle, will remain as a lasting monument of the donor, engaged a large share of Lady Armstrong's time and taste. It was the same with Cragside. The idea which runs through them both, that of making art the handmaid of nature, and preserving the wild contour and the natural condition of the arboreal and floral garniture of the place was thoroughly understood by Lady Armstrong and was worked out largely by her original mind. She was an enthusiastic botanist; and it is perhaps not generally known that numerous specimens of rare local and British plants which are to be found at Cragside, have been collected by her own hand or procured by her as the result of researches which she set on footNewcastle Daily Journal 4.9.1893 p.4.col.5/6.

From the description above it is apparent that Lady Armstrong was following the style of the 'woodland garden' an approach also evident at Whinney House, Gateshead where the grounds were laid out following advice from her friend John HancockWHINNEY HOUSE REF. & LEAZES. Another influential figure who would have been of her acquaintance during the construction of the Banqueting House (1864), was the architect John Dobson (1787 - 1854), who was also known as a landscape designerOne of his most accomplished landscape schemes was nearby at Jesmond Cemetery (1834)..

5.2 The 'woodland garden'.
The evolution of the 'woodland garden' occurred during the mid 19th century. However, the bones of the style came from the 'Picturesque' movement which was at a peak at the end of the 18th century. Belsay Quarry Garden (c.1806), in Northumberland, is thought to be one of the best examples of a garden made during the Picturesque movement and embodies a landscape enhanced to look wild and far more dramatic than the style which was previously in favour i.e. the smooth and undulating landscapes produced by designers such as Brown.

The accelerating social changes which occurred during the 19th century had far reaching consequences and two in particular affected garden design of the period. Firstly the expansion of large suburban houses for industrialists who needed to live near their businesses and secondly the opportunity for the middle classes to develop personal aesthetic tastes which were not dictated by the gentry. The woodland garden developed from both these factors.

Many of the newly emergent wealthy industrialists required accommodation within proximity of their factories and developed suburban villas with 'mini-estates'. However, as the new landscaped gardens were close to other houses and industries and not in the open rolling countryside the dynamics of these gardens changed. There was a requirement for privacy with the judicious screening of unwanted views, at the same time there was a necessity for grandiose display of gardening 'a la mode' and the provision of an appropriate setting for the house. For these reasons a typical northern landscape feature 'the dene' was of great value to such gardens offering both privacy and a dramatic terrain. Examples of the inclusion of denes as part of pleasure grounds can be found at Whinney House in Gateshead, Tyne & Wear and Castle Eden Dene in Co. Durham.

The freedom to experiment with aesthetic choices resulted in a rich variety of differing styles which so epitomised architecture and other design of the era. Victorian Gothic revival country houses were built in stark contrast to the tranquil classical facades complemented by a pastoral landscape. The newly romanticised architecture required a dramatic setting and the natural topography of an estate was appropriated and enhanced with woodland and exotic plantings. The Gothic aesthetic was partly developed through literature with the adoption of writers such as Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832). Scott's romantic descriptions of the dramatic Scottish landscape in works such as The Lady of the Lake were immensely popular. This coincided with an increased national interest in the landscape of Scotland particularly in view of the newly founded royal association with Balmoral.

The 'woodland garden' developed into a style which was characterised by the adoption and sometimes creation of denes which were renamed 'glens'A postcard of Jesmond Dene is titled Jesmond Glen (fig.9 ) . The steeper and craggier the sides of a dene were, the better. In some cases the 'dene' was embellished with artificial features such as rock work crags as at Whinney House, Gateshead.
Existing, mature woodland was also advantageous as it provided immediate privacy. Tall trees such as beech and fastigiate species such as Lawson's Cypress accentuated the depth of the dene. Much of the planting was dominated by the use of native species, particularly any with Scottish associations, such as birch, heathers and bracken.

Nationally, Cragside is probably unsurpassed as a 'woodland garden'. These pleasure grounds were created by Lord and Lady Armstrong's at Rothbury in Northumberland from c.1863. So great was their desire to see their vision built that Lady Armstrong is said to have paid locals to carry buckets of earth up to the tops of the slopesDixon, H Cragside - Northumberland National Trust 1992 p.74. Seven million trees and shrubs were planted across almost 2,000 acres of the estate and the immensity of the scheme is staggering. Jesmond Dene and Cragside are outstanding examples of this particular garden aesthetic. Examples in other parts of the country can be found at Dob Royd Castle, Todmorden which was laid out by Edward Kemp and Crag Wood at Rawdon, Bradford.

5.3 Jesmond Dene.
Lord Armstrong's pleasure grounds quickly became the focus of the attention of local writers. Through their descriptions the transformation of the landscape becomes apparent. In 1863 Bruce remarked The gardens attached to the house present several features of interest, and the whole of the dean in front of the mansion is beginning to assume those charms which art can lend to a spot naturally so beautifulBruce Rev. JC Handbook to Newcastle upon Tyne 1863.

Andrew Reid, the Town Clerk summarised the development of Jesmond Dene by the time Lord and Lady Armstrong donated the park to the public in 1884. The full significance of Sir William's bountiful gifts of the Park and Dene can only be rightly appreciated by those who were familiar with the locality five and twenty years ago. The transformation on the mimic stage, from the barren island to the fairy realms of boundless bliss, is not more complete. The Dene which is now the Eye, as the broad acres of the Town Moor are the Lungs, of Newcastle, was a wild straggling valley, through which a little streamlet, the Ouseburn, fringed by a thin line of stunted wood, and a tangled undergrowth of bramble and bracken, wandered in search of the Tyne. Sir William purchased the property, planted it with thousands of trees, shrubs, and flowers, laid down broad walks, built rustic bridges and rockeries, trapped the rivulet into waterfalls, worked into the landscape a watermill of the past generation, erected a sumptuous Banqueting Hall and then gave the whole of it, as he had previously done several adjoining acres, to the people of Newcastle foreverRecord of the Royal Visit - Jesmond Dene compiled by Town Clerk Newcastle Andrew Reid 1884.

The local Monthly Chronicle published their appreciation in 1888, The Jesmond Dene section of the park, is now entered from the level of Benton Bridge, by a new gate, as well as by the old doorway, down in the valley, and from the beginning to end it is a continual feast to the eye, fresh beauties appearing at every step. A mere descriptive catalogue of the various plants here to be found would form a large and interesting volume. Rare foreign shrubs and heaths and flowers planted in abundance, and the very display of native foliage. Where possible the original timber has been allowed to remain, and the hanging woods on either side of the burn, in the upper reaches, are perhaps the finest feature of the whole place. Good solid footpaths have been formed along the bottom of the valley and partly along the upper heights. From the latter glimpses can be caught at intervals, between the trees of the valley beneath. There is one gap through which we look down on a scene of singular beauty. In the distance we see trees of the opposite bank which close the view in that direction, and rising from beyond the turrets of Jesmond Towers, the residence of Mr. Charles Mitchell, a member of the world-famous firm of Armstrong Mitchell & Co. Nearer at hand is the picturesque mansion of another member of the same firm, Captain Noble, and nearer still yet far down below us runs the burn. We see it as it forms a series of cascades, running beneath a rugged stone bridge, and then rushing through its narrow channel among huge masses of rock. By its margin stands the Old Mill, with its huge wooden water wheel, now stopped for good, and its red tiled roof no longer covering a little scene of industry, but spared from destruction only as a pleasant and picturesque object in the landscape.
Considerably further downstream, and to be reached by descending and retracing our steps along the opposite bank, is the Banqueting Hall, included by Lord Armstrong in his gift of the park. It is a commodious hall, adorned with statuary and pictures, and convenient for holding public entertainments. Near it is to be seen the tree planted by the Princess of WalesThe tree was provided by Messrs. W. Fell of Hexham . Reid, A Record of the Royal Visit p.59 (1884), when she, together with the Prince of Wales, opened Jesmond Dene in 1884, and formally handed over to Newcastle this princely gift of her foremost citizen and most munificent benefactorMonthly Chronicle July 1888 p.311 - 316.

By 1894 Lord and Lady Armstrong's pleasure grounds had matured and the Gardener's Chronicle sent a correspondent to inspect Jesmond Dene as a public park. The article began with a summary, It is not only the finest piece of ornamental planting about Newcastle, but it will vie with the best attempts in that way anywhere. The site is admirable, having amphitheatre like slopes on either side, running a good mile long from end to end, and in the hollow the Ouseburn runs, bridged over at convenient distances for public promenading. It is amply provided with spacious walks, and the whole is in an admirable state of keepThe Gardeners' Chronicle June 16 1894 p.748. (see fig.10)

5.4 Jesmond Dene House a 'woodland garden' added to Jesmond Dene.
The landscaping of an additional length of Jesmond Dene, in the northern section, which was acquired by Newcastle City Council during the 1930s is now an integral part of the dene. Although very similar in style, and today the difference is imperceptible, the north end of the dene was laid out for Jesmond Dene House (1898 OS) (see figs.11,12). The gardens include a superb romantic spot were the river bed is sheltered by steep sandstone banks framing a view of Dean Bridge. Nearby a tunnel leads through to a quarry garden below Blackberry Crag.

The views in Jesmond Dene were designed to make full appreciation of any prominent features. Firstly the natural terrain of the dene provided the requisite conditions for the display of 'hanging woods' with the high steep cliffs offering a superb dramatic summit which contained the landscape. The floor of the valley and routes to the top were used to provide vantage points from which the landscape could be observed. Apparently natural breaks in the planting framed views down to the Ouseburn and cascades or across to features such as the theatrical roofline of Jesmond Towers.
The setting for the water mill was enhanced to include a spectacular artificial waterfall set in a monumental range of naturalistic stonework with adjacent grotto. The visitor could disappear into the depths of the grotto and experience the contrast of almost subterranean depths with associated planting of ferns framed by dark and menacing evergreen planting above on ground level.
An unusual addition to the prospect was the addition of Armstrong Bridge, brazenly spanning the skyline and providing an icon of Lord Armstrong's contribution to industry, employment and benevolence and also a means to reinforce this further by offering views along the new public park, Jesmond Dene.

5.6 Comment
Many connections have been made between Lord Armstrong's childhood fascination for water and his talent as an engineer whose primary source of power was water. There is a lasting comparison between the landscapes he knew as a child and those he sought later in his life. Pandon Dene ran through Shieldfield, where he was born and was a typical landscape associated with tributaries feeding the river Tyne this was similar to the adjacent valley of the river Ouseburn where the pleasure grounds to Jesmond Dean were located.

Lord Armstrong would have undoubtedly have known of the growing vogue for 'woodland gardens' which were being created in other industrial suburbs such as Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield. These new versions of estates which were previously the province of the landed gentry, were carefully designed to provide a setting for the house, a display of horticultural taste and at the same time provide privacy from onlookers or unattractive views.

Jesmond Dene was a prototype for probably the most successful woodland garden in the country, Cragside. Before building Cragside Lord Armstrong was a regular visitor to the Rothbury area which he had frequented as a child. In the true spirit of the age and undaunted by the scale of the estate Lord and Lady Armstrong began their new 'woodland garden' on acres of bare rocks and moorland c.1863. Stamping their identity on the landscape in a novel manner which could only have been achieved through immense wealth and blatant expression of self confidence. The Northumberland landscape had not seen such transformation since the great landowners the Duke of Northumberland and Sir Walter Blackett developed their wider estates during the 18th century.

Following the inevitable structural changes to many of Lord and Lady Armstrong's gifts to the City of Newcastle, the eradication of the Elswick Works and their home, Jesmond Dean, Jesmond Dene and incorporated features is a substantial reminder of a man by whom the industrial growth of Newcastle City was partly defined.

Back to top

6.0 Development of Jesmond Dene as a Municipal Park

In 1878, before Jesmond Dene was gifted to Newcastle City (1883)ibid. February 1883, Sir William Armstrong (1810 - 1900) was already allowing the public to visit his 'park'. During a debate on the requirement for further provision of public parks in Newcastle upon Tyne Mr. Alderman Hedley cited it as a place which the population could resort to thereby negating the need for large sums to be spent on acquiring Heaton Parkibid. p.124 .

6.1 Donation of Jesmond Dene for a public park
In February 1883 the Town Clerk read out a letter from Lord Armstrong in which he offered the gift of Jesmond Dene as a public park7.2.1883 NCLA Proceedings of the Newcastle Council p.107. This was in addition to the land which he had previously donated for Armstrong Park although for convenience it seems that the earlier naming of the parks was retained.

Lord Armstrong gave the remaining pleasure grounds of Jesmond Dene but subject to control by himself and Lady Armstrong as long as they lived. Some buildings were included as part of the gift, the Banqueting Hall and dwelling houses in the dene. Maintenance of the grounds would be funded by Lord Armstrong who proposed letting the houses. Use of the grounds would be subject to permission until the Corporation took over but admission at weekends would be free.

The gift was subject to four conditions all of which contributed to Lord Armstrong's vision for a public park. 1st to take measures for diverting the ever-increasing sewage of Gosforth and Bulham Village from the burn which flows through the grounds. 2nd to take steps for acquiring and adding to the park the bank on the west side of the Dean between St. Mary's Mount and Jesmond village. 3rd To build an additional lodge and gate for entering the grounds at the east end of the high level bridge across the Burn. 4th not to alter the laying out of the grounds in a manner to render them more artificial than at present. There may be some minor points to arrange, but nothing involving any difficulty.

6.2 Additional land acquisitions
In April 1883 Sir William Armstrong announced a further donation of land to include land which was already used for picnic parties2.5.1883 NCLA Proceedings of the Newcastle Council p.247. In order to provide additional open space for recreation Sir William also gave a large field on higher ground (Paddy Freeman's fields). This land offered extensive dramatic views down into the wooded dene and beyond to the wider landscape. Every possible requirement had been considered and an additional 3 acres was provided to allow a new park entrance to be built at the east end of Armstrong Bridge. The ruin of St. Mary's Chapel was also donated although public access was to be limited during the Armstrong's occupation of Jesmond Dean. A new road system was also instigated partly at Sir William's expense which extended from Armstrong Bridge to Gosforth. The Corporation were expected to pay for fencing and metalling the roads. They were also asked to take down four cottages on the high ground and re-erect them in an adjacent field for the farm at High Heaton. A new lodge was proposed for 'Paddy Freemen's fields' and Sir William offered to enlarge the pond there and pay for laying out this new area.
In recognition of these gifts the Corporation launched an appeal to fund the painting of a portrait of Sir William which would be hung in the Banqueting Hall2.5.1883 N.C.L.A. Proceedings of Newcastle City Council .

In 1899 Lord Armstrong wrote to the Council indicating that having regard to his advanced age and his absence from Jesmond, he desired to give up all powers of control over the Dene and Banqueting Hall. Consequently the Parks Committee made arrangements to assume the control, and the formal transfer took place yesterday, without any ceremony2.5.1899 Local Newscuttings V.59B .
In 1930 following the death of the widow of Captain Andrew Noble Newcastle Council purchased the house and it was used as a secretarial college much of the grounds were added to Jesmond DeneDonald, J Not Just Bricks and Mortar p.25.

Lord and Lady Armstrong benefactors to the City of Newcastle
Lord and Lady Armstrong were renowned philanthropists in Newcastle in 1873 an appreciation of local worthies remarked Even his private residences are made to serve the public, as witness Jesmond, with its splendid banqueting hall, erected for public use, and it's beautiful gardens and grounds, for regular admission to which only a small charge is made, while the sum thus realised is handed over to the funds of the Infirmary LawsonTyneside Celebrities 1873 p. 254 - 262. Inevitably the souvenir publication to the opening of Armstrong Park commented Bountiful gifts from Sir William and Lady Armstrong, have become such frequent occurrences that they no longer occasion surprise. A lecture hall for the Literary Society today, an operating theatre for the Infirmary tomorrow. Thousands to restore a grand old steeple; thousands more to the Children's Hospital ; three fourths of a 20,000 bridge across Benton Valley; 10,000 to the Natural History Museum; a Mechanics Institute and a long range of Schools for the workmen of Elswick; Parks for his fellow citizens. The more he bestows the richer he becomesRecord of the Royal Visit - Jesmond Dene compiled by Town Clerk Newcastle Andrew Reid 1884.

6.3 Opening of Armstrong Park
Following the gifts of two areas which were to be designated public parks, Armstrong Park and Jesmond Dene, the title of Armstrong Park referred to both. The park was opened on the 20th August 1884 by the Prince and Princess of Wales. The Prince of Wales in his response to an address of welcome stated ... I am glad we have met here today to inaugurate an undertaking of such great value as a peoples park must always be to a large and industrial town. And it is an additional gratification to me to think we are the guests of the munificent donor of such a splendid gift - your honoured fellow citizen, Sir William Armstrong. A Library and a Museum of Natural History are objects which cannot fail to be highly appreciated by the intelligent population of Newcastle upon Tyne, and these institutions will, I trust, prove a continual source of instruction and recreation to them. The Princess of Wales planted a turkey oak tree at the south end of the banqueting house to commemorate the opening of Armstrong Park. In 1933 a second turkey oak was planted by Alderman Benson to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the parkJesmond Dene Trail Newcastle City Council.

6.3 Management regimes
As the dene is mostly woodland the management of matters such as bedding displays appears to have been somewhat overlooked or taken for granted in the park minutes.

Back to top

7.0 Layout Design of Jesmond Dene

7.2 Map descriptions of Jesmond Dene
7.2 1858 - 9 Ordnance Survey
The map shows a great deal of detail at the time when Sir William Armstrong had just completed the building of Jesmond Dean and was about to embark on improving the pleasure grounds.
      The Ouseburn passes through a varied landscape, containing large tracts of woodland bordering the watercourse and on the higher ground pasture.
      The north boundary of the study area is crossed by a bridge which gives access from Matthew Bank to Heaton High Laws.
      In addition there are a number of large houses with extensive pleasure grounds, these include Crag Hall, Jesmond Dene House, West Jesmond House, Jesmond Dean, Jesmond Grove, Jesmond Cottage, Jesmond House, Stotes Hall and Heaton Dene House.
      There are a number of quarries in the dene particularly at the northern end.
      A ridge line is shown on the eastern side of the dene to the north of Jesmond Dene House called Blaeberry Crag.
      Adjacent to the Ouseburn are Heaton Mill (corn), Flint Mill with adjacent lime kiln, Heaton Cottage, Jesmond Terrace, Busy Cottage Mill (corn), Busy Cottage.
      A mill race runs from Dene Bridge in the north through to Heaton Mill then on to Flint Mill it emerges again south of Heaton Cottage runs through to Busy Cottage, under Heaton Dene House and emerges south of the gardens then rejoins the Ouseburn at Benton Bridge.
      The public house shown on the 1834 plan is called Apple Tree Inn and reached by a ford from the eastern bank.
      High Heaton (Farm) overlooks the dene from the east side.

7.3 Plan of The Armstrong Park Newcastle upon Tyne 1884
The major buildings and features are labelled on this plan which celebrated the royal visit to Armstrong Park. These include Jesmond Dene (sic), the new Banqueting Hall, Jesmond Valley Bridge, the water mill and water falls, a lake adjacent to High Heaton and a number of existing and proposed lodges.

This plan also includes the section of the park to the south of Jesmond Valley Bridge including the eastern entrance where the royal visitors entered. The informative plan clearly indicates the layout of the walk the access points to the park and the tree cover. The plan is shaded to indicate land purchased by the Corporation of Newcastle upon Tyne, 23 acres and land presented by Sir William Armstrong to the city, containing about 93 acres. The total area of the park is noted as 116 acres and it's total length is 1 and half miles.

The key includes a description of the banqueting hall being built by Sir. W. G. Armstrong for Public entertainments, but mainly for pic-nic parties and popular gatherings, and lately presented to the city. In addition there is a description which reads as follows. The scenery beyond the banqueting hall is of a very romantic character, and includes an old water mill, built about Charles the seconds reign near which are waterfalls, bridge , grotto, etc. etc.

7.4 OS 1898 edition
Whilst the pasture land to the east of the dene remains largely the same the village of Jesmond has become increasingly developed towards the dene. The large residences remain and are being encroached upon and no pasture land now exists to the west of the dene. By the time of this survey Jesmond Dene was a public park.
Changes which have occured since the 1858 OS are as follows looking from the north to south.
      Heaton High Laws has been named Castles Farm and has increased in size.
      Blaeberry Crags has been renamed Blackberry Crags.
      A drive has been built through the park and begins at South Lodge leading along the east bank of the river Ouseburn up to North Lodge where it turns across a small bridge which leads up to North West Lodge and Jesmond Dene Road.
      The area around 'Old Mill' has changed considerably from the 1858 OS. The Ouseburn has been widened upstream from the newly built waterfall and rockwork. A grotto is located west of the waterfall.
      A recreation ground is shown on the west side of the dene to the rear of the Grotto.
      At the south tip of the recreation ground a large bridge crosses the Ouseburn connecting the drive along the west of the dene with a lane up to Jesmond Dene Road.
      The character of the woodland in this section of the dene has changed and includes conifers as well as deciduous trees.
      The river is crossed by numerous weirs, cascades, stepping stones and small bridges.
      The bridges link to a network of paths which run the length of the dene. The footpaths are connected to points which allow the vistor to ascend or descend the slopes.
      The Red Walk commences south of Deep Dene House and connects with a footbridge which allows access to the Banqueting House.
      Further south the Red Walk passes Busy Cottage, Millfield House and Heaton Dene House.
      A footpath climbs above Millfield House to connect with High South Lodge which is located at the east end of Armstrong Bridge. From here the visitor crosses to a drive which leads through the remaining section of Armstrong Park.
      The Red Walk or drive, passes below Armstrong Bridge and meets Benton Bank by South Lodge.
      Alternatively the visitor could walk across Armstrong Bridge and take in views along the dene.

7.5 OS 1916 edition
Little has changed in the dene during this survey. The routes of the footpaths remain unchanged. A small area of previously open ground north of Deep Dene has been planted with woodland.

7.6 OS 1941 edition
At the north end of Jesmond Dene a large nursery has been developed on ground which was previously pasture adjacent to Jesmond Dene house. There are connecting footpaths from here through to the dene. Despite the change in land ownership the layout of the gardens, including the dene, to Jesmond Dene House appears unchanged. A shelter has been constructed at the north end of the recreation ground.

7.7 OS 1957, 1968, 1979, 1988 editions
These surveys show no significant changes to the layout of Jesmond Dene.

Back to top

8.0 Planting

The beauty of the natural woodland in Jesmond Dene has long inspired comment. In 1825 a description was made of Jesmond Dene by a local poet Robert Gilchrist, On Whit Tuesday, 1825, Mr. Young and I took a walk to Jesmond Dene, situated a little to the north-east of Newcastle. This valley can boast some of the finest scenery in the North of England, being most delightfully diversified with wood and water, forming some beautiful walks, equally inviting from their coolness and retirementJesmond Dene in 1825 Newspaper Cuttings relating to Newcastle Vol 2.p.59 .

In 1889 the dene was described by John Wilson Jesmond Dene, where so many kinds of plants revel in all the fascinating loveliness of their native character, is not without its western planes. The largest specimen is 42 feet in height, 30 feet in the spread of it's branches, and 39 inches in girth at two feet from the ground. It is well proportioned and, although it comes rather late into leaf, it is in very good health. This and another of almost equal size, is growing on a patch of flat, rich, moist, but not stagnant ground, in the middle of the Dene, known as the 'Nursery'. I remember a good specimen at Cragside, which Mr Wilson, the superintendent of the Dene thinks may be of the same stock, as quantities of trees and shrubs were, at one time sent from the latter place to Cragside. The two above mentioned have every appearance of having been left in a nursery row, and wisely undisturbed, attained their present statureWilson,J Uses and Beauties of Trees 1892 p.42 When the book was published John Wilson was working at Leazes Park..

8.1 Maturity of trees
A description of Jesmond Dene made in 1894The Gardeners' Chronicle June 16 1894 p.748 provides a valuable record of the range of species which the correspondent found in the pleasure grounds. The first aspect of the plantings which was discussed was the maturity of some of the trees ....Some of the deciduous trees must have been planted quite a century and a half, and although a number of the species have gone down under the influence of smoke impurities, good numbers are still standing.
An ancient oak tree known as 'The King of Jesmond' once stood near the end of Jesmond Dene Terrace. It was chopped down because it obstructed the road on which the Royal Party were to approach the Banqueting HouseNCLA Local History Items Vol.20 p.213

8.2 Effects of pollution
The beech were observed to have started to suffer from smoke impurities. Western planes were planted and were apparently not growing well. Generally it was thought that the 'lower growing trees' were faring better, in particular the Golden Elder. The double flowering cherry were successful as were the Bird Cherry. The occasional pear tree which was evident also seemed to grow well.

8.3 Ground cover
The description of ground cover is interesting as there seems to have been great variety of herbaceous and alpine vegetation and this was reported to be a principal feature of the park .... It is naturally rocky, and much of the rocky shelving is clad with suitable greenery this included Periwinkles, Irish Ivy and London Pride ..... The Ivy, of course, is most effective when it is used for clambering over the rocky shelving, the other two for slope groundwork. This sort of clothing pleases the eye vastly in winter, and when spring returns no end of squills, and Crocuses, and similar plants, spring up from dwarf greenery. In this respect the Dene is truly lovely. Bracken was planted on the slopes under the trees but only one fern Polystichum angulare was evident. Bulrushes grew in damp areas and in the water white water lilies Nymphae alba also Nuphar lutea the yellow pond lily (see fig. 29).

8.4 Impact of the trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants

An article in Gardener's ChronicleThe Gardeners' Chronicle June 16 1894 p.748 1894 on Public Parks at Newcastle provides a contemporary appreciation of the way in which Jesmond Dene was planted. The following notes have been extracted from this.

8.4.1 Aucubas
These were complimented as being good specimens although there were not many planted. (see fig. 30)

8.4.2 Berberis
Berberis aquifolium grew in less verdant parts of the dene and Berberis darwinii provided strong contrasting colour in other areas of the dene.

8.4.3 Conifers
The mountain pine seems to be the only conifer which tolerated conditions in Jesmond Dene.

8.4.4 Cotoneaster
The trailing habit of Cotoneaster was thought to provide good diversity of cover on rock faces and the correspondent suggested that they could be grown with Empetrum nigrum.

8.4.5 Commemorative trees
A commemorative Turkey Oak which was presented to Lord and Lady Armstrong was planted to the rear of the Banqueting Hall when the park was opened in 1884Young, M. Newcastle Life 1969. In 1933 a second turkey oak was planted by Alderman Benson to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the parkJesmond Dene Trail Newcastle City Council.

8.4.6 Deciduous shrubs
The dene was planted with large numbers of weigelia, Mock Orange and Spirea (deciduous and herbaceous). Crataegus oxycantha 'Paul's Scarlet' an ornamental hawthorn was also noted.

8.4.7 Elm
The Wych Elm may have been chosen as it's native habitat is the Scottish hillside and the connotation would have been desirable for a 'woodland garden'.

8.4.8 Ericas and Callunas
The heaths and common heaths were described as a collection planted in several areas the Erica carnea and multiflora alba were eye-catching when flowering in the winter and these beds were backed with Andromeda polifolia and Hebe brachysiphon. Several flowering iris were displayed and the most effective plant in these groups was apparently the dwarf whin Ulex nana.

8.4.9 Herbaceous plants
The more modest plants such as St. John's Wort, Teasel and Broom were thought to provide good winter decoration. Many varieties of sedum and saxifrage were planted with Polyanthus, Daisies, Lily of the Valley, orchis maculata, Dianthus, Potentillas, Cotyledon umbilicus and several of the indigenous Geraniums, Gentians a variety of herbaceous plants are grouped, not in small patches, nor in any particular design, but in such places as to attract the attention of the promenader. (see figs. 34,35,36,37)

8.4.10 Hollies
The Hollies were of great interest to the author, many varieties were present and the best specimens were Hodgins. The Golden Queen Holly was one which did not fare so well although the Waterers Golden Queen reacted well to conditions. The hollies were arranged in groups and although this was thought to be a somewhat formal arrangement ..... still, with their immediate neighbours and the surroundings taken into account, the eye even of the stickler for Nature doing it's own work in its own way is so far satisfiedThe Gardeners' Chronicle June 16 1894 p.751.

8.4.11 Rhododendrons and Azaleas
Rhododendrons were planted in clumps and interspersed with white lilies also Lilium lancifolium and Lilium auratum.
The Pontica and Ghent Azaleas were planted in large numbers providing a show of colour and strong scent, the autumn foliage was also showy. The azaleas were also underplanted with Lilium lancifolium. The rhododendron beds provided a suitable framework for the lilies to grow up through without the need for staking. Large numbers of Lady's slipper orchids also abounded here.(see fig. 31)

8.4.12 Yews
Both green and golden yews were planted especially along the margins of the Ouseburn.

8.5 Summary list of trees, shrubs and plants described in Jesmond Dene in 1894

Trees and shrubs
Andromeda polifolia Bog rosemary (Heardy heath)
Acer Pseudoplatanus Sycamore
Aucuba japonica cvs. Spotted laurels
Arundinaria japonica Bamboo
Betula pendula Silver Birch
Berberis darwinii Barberry
Calluna vulgaris cvs. Heather
Castanea sativa Sweet or Spanish Chestnut
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana Lawson's Cypress
Cotoneaster spp. Cotoneasters
Crataegus oxycantha Hawthorn
Crateagus oxycantha 'Paul's Scarlet' Paul's double thorn
Erica spp. and cvs. Heath
Erica herbacea Winter or snow heath
Erica herbacea multiflora alba Winter heath
Fagus sylvatica Common Beech
Garrya eliptica Garrya
Gaultheria mucronata Pernettya
Gaultheria shallon Salal or Shallon
Genista sagittalis Winged broom
Hebe brachysiphon Shrubby Veronica
Hypericum calycinum St. John's Wort
Ilex x altaclarensis 'Hodginsii' Holly
Ilex aquifolium cvs. Holly (gold, silver and green)
Ilex aquifolium 'Watererana' Holly (golden)
Mahonia aquifolium Oregon Grape
Menziesia spp. Dwarf shrubs resembling heaths.
Philadelphus spp. and cvs. Mock Orange
Pieris floribunda Pieris
Pinus mugo Mountain pine
Pinus nigra Austrian pine
Platanus occidentalis Western Plane or Buttonwood
Prunus avium 'Plena' Double Cherry or Gean
Prunus padus Bird Cherry
Pyrus communis Common or Garden Pear
Quercus robur Common or English Oak
Rhododendron hirsutum Rhododendron
Rhododendron luteum Pontica azalea
Rhododendron cvs. Ghent azalea
Sambucus nigra 'Aurea' Golden Elder
Sorbus aria Whitebeam
Sorbus aucuparia Mountain Ash or Rowan
Sorbus domestica Service Tree
Spiraea spp. and cvs. Deciduous and herbaceous
Taxus baccata Common Yew
Taxus baccata aurea Golden Yew
Ulex minor Dwarf gorse
Ulmus glabra Wych Elm
Veronica traversi syn. Hebe brachysiphon - Shrubby Veronica
Weigela spp. and cvs. Weigela


Asplendium scolopendrium Hart's tongue fern
Bellis perennis Daisy
Convallaria majalis Lily of the Valley
Crocus spp. and cvs Crocus
Cypripedium calceolus Lady's slipper orchid
Cypripedium reginae Lady's slipper orchid
Dactyloriza maculata Spotted orchid
Dipsacis fullonum Teasel
Empetrum nigrum Crowberry
Gentiana spp. and cvs Gentian
Geranium spp. and cvs. Geranium
Herdera helix 'Hibernica' Irish Ivy
Iris spp. and cvs. Iris
Lilium auratum Japanese lily
Lilium lancifolium Lance leaved lily
Linnea borealis Twin flower
Nuphar lutea Yellow pond lily
Nymphae alba Native waterlily
Orchis maculata Hand orchid (native)
Polstichum setiferum Soft Shield Fern
Potentilla spp. and cvs. Potentilla
Primula x polyantha Polyanthus
Saxifraga x urbium London Pride
Saxifraga spp. and cvs. Saxifrage
Scilla spp. and cvs Squills
Sedum spp. and cvs. Stonecrop
Typha angustifolia Bulrush
Umbilicus rupestris Succulent sim. to houseleek
Vaccinium vitus-idaea Cowberry
Vinca spp. and cvs. Periwinkles

8.6 Management of Jesmond Dene woodland 1905
When the pleasure grounds at Jesmond Dene were created Lord Armstrong made use of existing woodland in conjunction with introducing exotic trees and shrubs. By the turn of the century many of the older trees were over mature. The principal of Armstrong College and Mr.W. Wilson were asked to report on the condition of the woodland in Jesmond Dene.
As requested by the City Engineer in connection with the Jesmond Dene re-afforestation scheme I beg to submit a report as to the condition of the old trees growing in the Dene and future renewal. Very many trees particularly the Ash and Sycamore are now in decline of them being very much decayed. Therefore some new trees should be planted. Clearing os the useless underwood to be made and planted with Ash, Elm, Sycamore, Chestnut and Mountain Ash, also Aucuba Rhododendrons, Holly and berberis. On high recreation ground (Paddy Freeman fields) he thought a few more groups of trees could be planted at the north end of the lake. The field at Deep Dene might be suitable for experimental purposes as Armstrong College needed land for testing out trees and shrubs as to their suitability for the area.
A further report of the dene mentions the way in which the dene was formed and treed before it was adapted by Lord Armstrong. The report details events since the dene was laid out. There is little doubt that Jesmond Dene differed little from , if at all, from the ordinary denes of the district previous in the last fifty years or so, when it was laid out much in it's present form by Lord Armstrong. The work then done appears to have chiefly consisted in the formation of walks and paths along the face of the banks, in planting trees and shrubs here and there, and in alterations to the bed of the stream near the mill. Since then, the only additional work done has been in the way of planting a few trees and shrubs here and there in the more open places, and in forming beds of shrubby and herbaceous plants under or between the trees. In this work considerable skill and taste have been shown, and it cannot be said that the ideas and views of the original improveer have been departed from since the Dene was handed over to the Corporation of Newcastle.
Suggestions were made for replanting such as not be too many tall trees put in at the bottom of the dene as they would exclude light ...... The most appropriate course to follow was to keep the tops of the banks thickly planted this would help add depth to the planting and also allow for the effects of light and shade.... also ..Where the surfaces of rocks showed they could be kept bare as features. It was also proposed that each plant should be properly labelled as an arboretum. Finally it was reiterated that great care was taken in this report to make sure that they did not deviate from the original intentions4.12.1905 TWA MD/NC 26 / 4 (see figs.57,58)

Back to top

9.0 Features

9.1 Landscape Features

9.1.2 Colman's field
Thought to be a field once used by Mr. Colman to raise geese and ducks which were sold at Grainger MarketDonald, J Not just bricks and mortar. A letter from Wm. Coleman to the Council indicated that he leased Dene House in 189926.6.1899 MD/NC 144 / 2 (gazetteer 9) (see fig.39)

9.1.3 Grottos
The large naturalistic grotto adjacent to the waterfall was an important attribute to Jesmond Dene (gazetteer 10). The 1898 OS shows the grotto approached by a path through an area which is secluded by shrub planting. This conscious departure from the 'outer' landscape prepared the visitor to descend into another world which would stimulate the imagination and provide a place for quiet contemplation. Stone from this small quarry may have been used to build the artificial waterfall. The sound of water rushing over the nearby waterfall would have added to the atmosphere in the grotto.
Elsewhere in the dene there were smaller grottos which provided features which could be viewed from the path. These were created at the bottom of steep rock faces where hollowed stone allowed small pools to form. The surrounding rocks were planted with ferns and plants with a creeping habit such as Periwinkles. (see figs. 15,16,17,40,41)

9.1.4 Pet's corner
Pets corner was established during the 1970s opposite Millfield House and has expanded over the years. A pet's cemetery is located in Colman's Field (see fig. 45)

9.1.5 Quarry Garden
It is not known who built the quarry garden as it was part of the pleasure grounds to Jesmond Dene House (gazetteer 11) . When Mackenzie described the gardens in 1825, before Lord Armstrong built Jesmond Dean, he did not mention a quarry garden specifically but indicated the virtues of the site The situation is low and well sheltered, and the view which it commands, though confined, is peculiarly rich and variegated. When the gardens, plantations, and pleasure grounds assume the aspect intended, the whole will present a scene at once rich, luxuriant and romanticMackenzie,E A descriptive and historical account of the town and county of Newcastle upon Tyne 2. vols. Mackenzie and Dent 1827 . (see fig.18,43,44)

9.1.6 Recreation field
This small field at the north end of Jesmond Dene was described in 1894 as ... a park where cattle browse, is put at the service of 'trippers' for games or other recreative purposesGardener's Chronicle June 16 1894 p.751 (see fig..46) (gazetteer 12)

9.2 Water features

9.2.1 Boating Lake
The boating lake was formed at Paddy Freeman's field by improving a pond which had been used previously to provide a head of water for the organ in the Banqueting Hall (gazetteer 13) . The lake is shown on the 1884 plan and 1898 OS.
In 1913 the Heaton and District model boat club requested a boat house to accommodate the larger boats. To bring the facilities in line with other clubs in the district also wished for the corners to be removed from the west side of the lake14.10.1913 TWA MD/NC 26/5. (see fig.19)

9.2.2 Cascades
The cascades in the dene have a subtle effect on the course of the water as it descends through the valley. The frequency of these structures allowed variety in points of interest which the visitor could juxtapose with other experiences such as views of buildings or displays of woodland planting. The cascades were often located near bridges providing interest in the foreground before the eye was drawn up to the wider views (see fig.56 ).

9.2.3 Waterfall
Comparisons between the paintings of Jesmond Dene Mill (figs.4,5) and photographs taken after the waterfall was constructed show a significant difference in the form of the landscape around the building. Lord Armstrong's fascination with water was sustained by the revision of the manner in which water passed through the whole length of Jesmond Dene. The broad tranquil expanse of water where the river was widened acted as a contrast to the crashing waterfall beyond. Through the introduction of a waterfall he was able to add drama to the water and force it to rush over numerous cascades which he also introduced. The combination of the sound of rushing water and effects of the play of light added great depth and contrast to the experience of the pleasure grounds. (see figs. 20, 21,47,48)

9.3 Buildings

9.3.1 Banqueting Hall (listed Grade II)
Following Government rejection of Armstrong's guns due to poor performance in the third China War Lord Armstrong reorganised his enterprise and joined the munitions with the engineering interests he then addressed the potential of selling overseas. The Armstrong Elswick works became a phenomenal success through sales of guns to both sides fighting the American Civil WarSaint, Dr. Cragside, Northumberland National Trust 1992. Coupled with the success of the engineering firm Lord Armstrong became a leading national figure and consequently was required to entertain international clients. Jesmond Dean was too small for large scale entertainment and Armstrong commissioned the celebrated Newcastle architect John Dobson (1787 - 1865) to build a Banqueting House in 1860 (gazetteer 15). The building included an ante room which was used as a gallery for Lord Armstrong's art collection and this room also had a pipe organ which is said to have been powered by a head of water piped down from the pond now in Paddy Freeman's fields. Once the Armstrong's moved to Cragside the Banqueting House was used as a facility for the park and used for the needs of 'trippers' to permit the eating of food brought with them in a comfortable way, vastly appreciated in inclement weather.

In 1903 discussions were held by the Parks Committee regarding a proposed memorial tablet to Lord Armstrong which was to be placed at the Banqueting Hall26.10.1903 TWA MD/NC 144 / 2. In 1970 the structural condition of the Banqueting House was giving cause for concern. The building was vacant and local press were questioning how much longer it would surviveJournal 13.6.1970 (see fig.49 ).

9.3.2 Castle Farm
This extraordinary group of buildings is located at the north end of the dene on the east side. The original gateway to the stockyard was converted to a folly during the 19th century, (gazetteer 15) possibly under instruction from Lord and Lady Armstrong (see fig.50 ).

9.3.3 Crag Hall
In 1844 Crag Hall was the site of the discovery by a gardener of two graves which contained Cists, sealed food vessels one held human remains (gazetteer 16)Dendy F.W. An Account of Jesmond.(1904) Archaelogia Aeliana 3 Series. Vol 1..

9.3.4 Davison's Mill
The corn mill was converted to Heaton Cottage (1858 OS), later called Deepdene House (1898 OS) and now the Fisherman's Lodge restaurent. Whilst owned by Lord Armstrong the converted cottage was occupied by his higher management staff such as Andrew Noble who lived there before moving to Jesmond Dene HouseDonald, J Not Just Bricks and Mortar (see fig.22 ) (gazetteer 17).

9.3.5 Gatehouse to Banqueting Hall (listed Grade II)
The Gothic style gatehouse was built as an addition to the Banqueting Hall by R. Norman Shaw in 1869 -70 (gazetteer 18) (see fig. 23).

9.3.6 Glasshouses
These were located in the nursery area which was only linked by footpaths to the dene.

9.3.7 Heaton Dene House
This was near Millfield House and is now the site of Pet's Corner. Heaton Dene House is thought to have been previously Coleman's Poultry FarmDonald, J ibid. (gazetteer 19).

9.3.8 High Heaton Farm
The farm was managed by the Freeman family who were associated with Jesmond Dene Mill.

9.3.9 Jesmond Dene House (listed Grade II)
The house was designed by Dobson and built in 1822 for Thomas Headlam. In 1870 Captain Andrew Noble purchased the property and lived there until he died in 1915. The pleasure grounds were developed to cover both sides of the Ouseburn and the quarry garden at the north end of Jesmond Dene would have been part of this. Mackenzie described the gardens in 1825, When the gardens, plantations, and pleasure grounds assume the aspect intended, the whole will present a scene at once rich, luxuriant, and romanticMackenzie, E A descriptive and historical account of the town and county of Newcastle upon Tyne 2. vols. Mackenzie and Dent 1827 . The same year an account of the dene was published by Robert Gilchrist Some may consider the situation to be rather low, but by this many parts are seen to the utmost advantage. The remains of a quarry for instance have been converted into a most delightful and romantic spotNewspaper Cuttings relating to Newcastle Vol.2 p.59.
The pleasure ground to Jesmond Dene House also extended into the dene and now appears as a culmination of the Armstrong's pleasure grounds. Although Noble worked for Armstrong it is not known whether his garden was developed in collaboration with his employer. When his wife died in 1930 Newcastle Council bought the house and part of the grounds were added to Jesmond Dene. The famous Jesmond 'real tennis court' was built in the grounds of this houseDonald, J ibid. (gazetteer 20).

9.3.10 Jesmond Dene Mill
See (4.7) (gazetteer b7)

9.3.11 Jesmond Park
The large house and pleasure grounds were built for Armourer Donkin (1779 - 1851) in 1828 (gazetteer 20). He was a close friend of Lord Armstrong having trained him in law and left his estate to him when he died.

9.3.12 Jesmond Towers (listed Grade II)
Formerly West Jesmond House the property underwent alterations in 1817 and 1823 - 7 by John Dobson for Sir Thomas Burdon. By 1869 it was owned by Charles Mitchell, Lord Armstrong's partner and patron of St. George's Church. Today (1999) the building is occupied by La Sagesse school (gazetteer 2).

9.3.13 Lodges

High South Lodge
This was built as one of Lord Armstrong's conditions on handing over Jesmond Dene and is illustrated on the 1894 OS (see 6.1)(gazetteer 21).

North West Lodge ( )
This lodge was built between the 1858 and 1894 OS (see fig.51) (gazetteer 22)

North Lodge ( )
This lodge was also built between the 1858 and 1894 OS (see fig.52) (gazetteer 23)

South Lodge ( )
This lodge was also built between the 1858 and 1894 OS (gazetteer 24)

9.3.14 St. Mary's Chapel (listed Grade II*)
See 4.5 (gazetteer 5)

9.3.15 St. Mary's Well (Scheduled Ancient Monument)
See 4.6 (gazetteer 6)

9.3.16 Stotes Hall
The hall was built on the site of an existing farmhouse in 1607. Sir Richard Stote purchased the hall in 1658. Stotes Hall was located on the east side of Jesmond Dene Road and is thought to be the first non-fortified manor to be built outside Newcastle City WallsFaulkener, T and Waterson, P Lost Houses of Northumberland and Durham (gazetteer 25).

9.4 Bridges

9.4.1 Armstrong Bridge (listed Grade II)
Armstrong Bridge spans a deep ravine which must have posed considerable problems to traders transporting goods into Jesmond and Newcastle from East Jesmond. The bridge was designed and constructed in 1876 - 8 by W.G Armstrong & Co. using W.E.F Jackson as masonry contractors. The bridge was built with eight wrought iron lattice girder spans and these made an overall length of 552 feet (168 m). The girders were supported on seven pairs of box section columns. The individual sections allowed for thermal variation causing expansion and contraction. The bridge has recently been restored 1980's however, use has been restricted to pedestrians since 1960. On Sundays the bridge is used for an arts and crafts market. (gazetteer 26)

9.4.2 Castle Farm Bridge (listed Grade II)
Also referred to as Dene Bridge on the 1894 OS the bridge was built in 1850 to allow access to the farm from the west (see fig. 53) (gazetteer 27)

9.4.3 Bridge to west of Jesmond Dene Mill (listed Grade II)
The bridge was constructed with rock faced sandstone c. 1862 and was built into a high arch of rusticated wedge shaped segments. (gazetteer 28)

9.4.4 Footbridge north east of Banqueting Hall (listed Grade II)
Built c.1870 in sandstone and was formed with an arch of rusticated wedge shaped segments (see fig 54) (gazetteer 29).

9.4.5 Footbridge crossing the Ouseburn south of Red Walk (listed Grade II)
The bridge was also built c.1870 in sandstone (gazetteer 30).

9.4.6 Other footbridges
The North West Lodge is connected to the east side of the dene by a footpath which leads down to a footbridge north of North Lodge. A pair of bridges link the recreation ground to the east of the park (see fig. Further south a footbridge connects to a path leading up to an entrance from Jesmond Dene Road . ( )

9.5 Furnishings
No descriptions or photographs of parks seats or other furniture in Jesmond Dene have been discovered to date..

9.6 Roads, Drives and footpaths

9.6.1 Footpaths
In 1906 during discussions regarding surfacing of footpaths in Jesmond Dene there was strong opposition from some committee members to a proposed change from red ash paths to black asphaltProceedings of Newcastle Council 29.3.1906.. Mr. Hildreth said On thing that people saw in Jesmond Dene was it's natural characteristics. It was not an artificial park in any respect. If they asphalted the path, they made it into an artificial path.

Part of a report on the condition of trees in Jesmond Dene commented on the footpaths. The public footpath was not attractive mainly because it was bordered by a paling fence. It was suggested that neat iron railings should be put up4.12.1905 MD/NC 26 / 4

9.7 Sports facilities
Little sport took place in Jesmond Dene owing to the nature of the landscape although cricket was played informally on the recreation ground as illustrated in a photograph c.1900. A request was made in 1902 to the Parks Committee for permission to play football in the recreation ground but this was refused29.9.1902 TWA MD/NC 144/2 . (see fig.26)

Back to top

10.0 Use of Park
Jesmond Dene is primarily used for walking. The numerous and varied paths allow acess to a wide variety of views to the Ouseburn, cascades, waterfall, woodland, builidngs and long views from the higher paths. (see fig.27)
Colman's fields have been used for open air concerts, but generally the lawns here and on the recreation ground at the north end, provide a popular location for informal summer recreation.(see fig.28)

Back to top

11.0 Comment - Historic Merit

The survival of Jesmond Dene has been safeguarded partly by the nature of the terrain on which it was laid out. The majority of the park is located on land so steep that it would be impossible to build on. The simple framework of paths running alongside the Ouseburn and up into the woodland has remained vitually unchanged since it was laid out. When Jesmond Dene was donated to Newcastle City Council the Parks Committee immediately voiced their concerns that they should adhere to Lord Armstrong's request that the style of the park should not be changed in any way.

Many denes in the north east were made into Victorian 'woodland gardens' to complement suburban houses built by wealthy industrialists. Saltwell Dene in Gateshead was first laid out as a private pleasure ground by William Wailes (1808 - 1881) and later became incorporated within a public park. The crags of denes and dramatic steep slopes, thickly planted with woodland added scale to the suburban estates built by industrialists of the region. Business required that principal residences of the owners should be near the factories and mines and families would then resort to summer residences in the country in areas such as Teesdale and Northumberland.

The design of Jesmond Dene was Lord and Lady Armstrong's response to the opportunity to create their own romantic landscape. The Dene was entirely private from the growing surrounding suburbia and the long narrow valley was ideal for the location of features such as the Banqueting House, artificial waterfall adjacent to the Old Mill, cascades, grottos, and exotic woodland planting. Armstrong Bridge was gifted to the city for practical purposes but the symbolism of Armstrong's industrial acheivments thrust across the Ouseburn valley, cannot be overlooked. The unique arrangement of features which reflect so many of Lord Armstrong's preoccupations is all the more intriguing when considering his subsequent monumental project of the pleasure grounds at Cragside.

Cragside gardens are thought to be the most successful example of a 'woodland garden' in England. Romanticism apart, the scheme for Cragside was quite outrageous and symbolic of the Victorian power lust. Although there was a requirement for a garden to provide escapism this 'woodland garden' was a symbol of man's triumph over nature, undaunted by scale the Armstrong's planted seven million trees and shrubs across almost 2,000 acres of their estate.

Examples of 'woodland gardens' in other parts of the country can be found at Dob Royd Castle, Todmorden which was laid out by Edward Kemp and Crag Wood at Rawdon, Bradford. A public park at Woodhouse Ridge in Leeds was laid out along the side of a romantic valley however the park was not overlaid on pleasure grounds. Similarly the public park at Roker Dene, in Sunderland was laid out in a dene but this land was only made available for public use after it been rejected for building development.

Jesmond Dene and Cragside are registered by English Heritage as parks of Special Historic Interest in England and both gardens have survived remarkably well. Lord Armstrong's acheivement in devising two landscaped gardens of national status is a tribute to his extraordinary vision and energy.

Back to top



1272 St. Mary's Chapel first mentioned in Assize Roll

1607 Manor house later known as Stotes Hall built

1790 Advertisement for sale of Busy Cottage and Forge

1810 Lord Armstrong born at Shieldfield

1820 Old Mill at Jesmond painted by TM Richardson (elder)

1820 Crag Hall built

1822 Jesmond Dene House built by John Dobson for Dr.T Headlam

1825 Description of Jesmond Dene published by local poet Robert Gilchrist

1828 Jesmond Park built for Armorer Donkin (1779 - 1851)

1832 TM Richarson painted watercolour of Busy Cottage

1835 Jesmond Dean built for Lord Armstong on his marriage the
same year.

1844 Two cists found in grounds at Crag Hall

1864 Banqueting House built in Jesmond Dene for Lord Armstrong
by John Dobson

1870 Lodge to Banqueting House built by Norman Shaw for Lord

1876 Armstrong Bridge constructed by WG Armstrong, and Messrs. WE
Jackson masons. The bridge was presented to Newcastle citizens in

1883 Jesmond Dene donated to the Corporation of Newcastle by Lord
Armstrong. Further land donated by him in 1884

1884 Armstrong Park, including Jesmond Dene, opened by Prince and
Princess of Wales.

1894 Article on planting in Jesmond Dene published in Gardeners

1899 Control of Jesmond Dene vested in Newcastle Corporation

1900 Lord Armstrong died

1905 Management plan produced for woodland in Jesmond Dene.

1927 Jesmond Grove demolished

1929 Jesmond Manor House demolished

c.1930 Jesmond Dene House purchased by Newcastle City Council Jesmond Dene extended by the addition of garden to this house.

c.1930 Jesmond Dean demolished

1953 Stotes Hall demolished

1982 St. Mary's Chapel and well site archaeological investigation.

1990 Millfield House opened as Information Centre and cafe

Back to Countryside site