The History of Matfen Hall
- By Matfen Hall
- June 26, 2023
Sitting proudly amongst some of Northumberland’s most well-known landmarks, including Hadrian’s Wall, Sycamore Gap and Hexham Abbey, our magnificent estate has a remarkable history of its own.
In 1832, construction on Matfen Hall began on the site of the manor of West Matfen. Sir Edward Blackett, 6th Baronet Blackett of Newcastle in the County of Northumberland, commissioned renowned architect Thomas Rickman to design and build the estate. A successful architect himself, Sir Edward soon grew frustrated with Rickman and fired him, before continuing to have the hall built in accordance with his original designs. As part of the construction of Matfen Hall, Sir Edward also successfully designed Holy Trinity Church in Matfen.
Completed in 1836, Matfen Hall boasted a carved doorway, surmounted by the Blackett coat of arms and a Gothic-style entrance that opened up into the Great Hall. These features still exist today and are prominent elements of our stunning hotel.
Sir Edward decorated the estate with fascinating relics and works of art. A double-headed pellet that had been fired from the Spanish fleet onto Collingwood’s ship at The Battle of Trafalgar was on display, as was a sword originally owned by Sir John Conyers of Sockburn. Noted masterpieces from Caravaggio, Anthony van Dyck and Peter Paul Rubens were also on show throughout the hall. Furthermore, a fireplace originally ordered for Buckingham Palace was installed into what is now The Morning Room. Due to naked forms appearing on each pillar, it was deemed too risqué for King William IV and so, was transported to Northumberland.
The construction of Matfen Hall helped to shape and develop the local community, creating jobs for village residents as they found employment at the estate throughout every generation. This continued as the jewel in Northumberland’s crown was passed down from Sir Edward to his son, Sir Edward William Blackett and then, his grandson Sir Hugh Blackett.
From 1965 to 1994, our magnificent hall was used as a residential nursing home on behalf of the Leonard Cheshire Foundation. A health and welfare charity, the foundation supports disabled people to live and work as they choose and for almost 3 decades, some 30 residents were cared for at Matfen Hall, while employment continued to be provided to those who lived locally.
Throughout the years, the myth of a ‘grey lady’ ghost has continued to haunt our Northumberland paradise. Possibly a tall tale to scare new members of staff, no mention of it had been made for years, until 1995, when a photographer was hired to take promotional images. Though they didn’t see anything while there, the later-developed photos showed the clear figure of a lady in a long dark cloak, standing next to the fireplace in our Great Hall.
In 1999, Sir Hugh Blackett, the 12th Baronet Blackett, and his wife, Lady Blackett opened our Northumberland paradise as a country house hotel with 31 bedrooms, beginning a new life for Matfen Hall. During a phase of refurbishment in 2004, the number of bedrooms was increased to 53, while a spa and leisure facilities were also installed.
Our brilliant estate remained this way until 2020, when it was purchased by Walwick Estate Group. A program of further refurbishment commenced, significantly elevating the property and guest experience while ensuring a sustainable future for one of Northumberland’s historic assets.
As a country house hotel, spa and golf estate, Matfen Hall utilises its 19th Century grandeur and parkland effectively, making it the ideal destination for an unforgettable experience. Guests can enjoy personalised tours of our estate during their stay, learning more about the history of our fantastic estate.