Cragside – National Trust

1128 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

March, 2019

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Product city

Travelled with

On your own

Reasons for trip

A splendid wooden staircase leads to the upper floors. A corridor to the left leads to the bedrooms and the morning room.

The red bedroom overlooks the rock gardens and still retains its 1930s decoration with pale coloured walls. These were intended to make the bedroom feel lighter when the conifer planted in the rock garden had started to make the bedroom feel dark. Next to it is a small dressing room with two doorways, so the maid could enter and set out the clothes for the day without disturbing anyone.

The bamboo bedroom at the end of the corridor has bamboo wallpaper and furniture is carved with bamboo shoots.

Next to it is the morning room, which was originally another bedroom until it became Lady Armstrong’s sitting room and private retreat. The Latin inscription above the door translates as “it is not those who ask but those who are asked that I admit” . It is a large and attractive room with a splendid plaster ceiling and comfortably furnished. There is a beautiful fire screen made out of peacock feathers.

A short flight of stairs from the main staircase, leads to the gallery and drawing room. This was the last part of the house to be built and is built into the solid rock face.

Originally the gallery was intended as Armstrong’s study and a place to keep his collection of scientific, geological and natural history specimens. Once the drawing room was built, it became a display area for his paintings and sculptures. It is a long narrow room lit by fanlights in the roof. Sculptures line the walls and there are display cabinets with shells. A small room off is used to display Armstrong’s collection of water colours.

A short staircase leads from the gallery to the owl suite in the tower. This was used for the five day visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1884. There are two bedrooms, dressing room and private lavatory. The beds have carved owl finials at the corners.

The main bedroom is an impressive room with a barrel ceiling. The window looks down onto the Debdon Burn and the Iron Bridge. Furniture is made from American black walnut and there is a half tester bed. There is a wash stand and sitting area at the far end of the room. The smaller bedroom has a sunken bath, complete with plumbed in hot and cold water.

At the far end of the gallery is the drawing room which was completed in time for the royal visit, when it was used as a banqueting hall as there were too many guests for the dining room. It is the most impressive room in an already remarkable house. It is a huge room, formal and ostentatious, and intended for grand gatherings.

It is dominated by the massive carved marble fireplace at the far end. This weighs 10 tons and the room is built on the solid rock of the hillside, the only way it could support this weight. The fire was mainly decorative as the room was heated by below from its own boiler and pipe system.

Apart from a small window set in a bay at the far end, the room is lit by a large skylight.
Round the base of the skylight is a decorative plaster frieze. Walls are covered with deep red wool damask, giving the room a warm and cosy feel, despite its size.

Beyond the drawing room is the billiard room which is very much the gentlemen’s retreat. It is a dark room and, being built into the rock face, the only light is from the skylight. Walls are panelled around the base with dark green wall covering above. At the far end is a wooden fireplace set back in an archway with pillars.

Beyond the billiard room is a small room described as Armstrong’s laboratory. This has a display of scientific equipment in wall cabinets. In the centre are different push button experiments illustrating some of the different aspects of electricity.


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