Places to Go: Ellingham Hall
Places to Go is a monthly feature written by NationalRail.com’s stationmaster, Alex Nelson. His passion for the UK rail network combined with his desire to travel to new locations have inspired him to write a regular piece on UK tourism.
Most of my visits for this column are to towns and cities, but small rural stations sometimes yield useful places to visit. I was in need of a “writing day” and settled upon Ellingham Hall in north Northumberland for a day out, using the small station at Chathill only 1.5 miles away, and less if I had walked across the fields on 13th November (in the dark) which I did not!
Ellingham Hall is an exclusive wedding venue inland from Seahouses, with 18 well-appointed bedrooms and five rooms inside the Hall for weddings and corporate events, the largest accommodating 140 seated delegates. I arranged to go on a quiet day between weddings, and had use of the mezzanine floor in the former chapel, which had a good wifi signal and pleasant views. The dining room and drawing room, as well as the entrance hall can be used for events. Unsurprisingly, most people come by car.
They advertise rail access to Morpeth 28.5 miles away and Berwick 23 miles away, but Alnmouth is better for long-distance trains, and Chathill even closer but this only has one train (the “Chathill Flyer”) from Newcastle and back – more heavily loaded – in the morning peak, and one return trip in the evening.
The day did not start off too well. There was a serious incident at Killingworth and the 0555 from Newcastle was cancelled. I was put into a taxi which took me all the way to Ellingham so I still arrived on time. My local taxi firm estimated the fare at £80, whilst I had paid £18.30 (without railcard) for the return ticket. A much-needed cup of coffee, then an orientation tour of the building and its extensive facilities.
Later I saw some of the seven spacious self-catering stone cottages. I had three hours solid work time until I set off to explore the village and have a seafood salad lunch in the excellent Pack Horse pub. Since I was the only guest in the Hall, the kitchen was not unreasonably closed for the day.
I had free access to the whole building including the games room in the cellar but took a walk to visit St. Maurice’s church close by. The unlocked Anglican church features a fascinating stained-glass window featuring the four major building projects of the age which were, in order, the Ark in 2248 BC, the Temple at Jerusalem in 1012 BC, the building of Durham Cathedral in 1093 AD and the rebuilding of Ellingham Church in 1862!
I think Archbishop Ussher’s chronology, which dated the start of creation to the 22nd October 4004 BC at 6pm, was still in use in nineteenth century Ellingham. The churchyard, pictured, was interesting but I never found the way to St. Maurice’s Well, and returned to the Hall an hour after lunch for some more work.
By six o’clock I was ready to return home, although the staff were concerned for my welfare walking on dark roads back to the station with my little torch. I allowed an hour to get to Chathill but that was ample, and a young woman picked me up on the road, as they do in rural Northumberland, and gave me a lift to the station and its informative little waiting room.
The 1915 return train was on time, comfortable and almost empty, and arrived in Newcastle at 2016 with only one other passenger. It may not have been the easiest way to get to Ellingham, but it made for a memorable day. Thanks to Anthony Hunter (GM) and his team for their hospitality.
If you would like to visit the beautiful Ellingham Hall in Northumberland, book your train tickets to Chathill here.