Gibside is a former manor estate of the Bowes-Lyon family, the same family as the Queen’s mother, and has the same Georgian architecture and landscaping as when it was built in the 18th century. It is now owned by the National Trust who have restored much of the original buildings with ongoing work to restore other parts of the grounds such as the main hall.
The original land was established by the Bishop of Durham in circa 1200 but were later settled by the Marley family who set up mills for cloth and corn processing and built the first hall. In 1540 the grounds were passed onto the Blakiston name through marriage. In 1620, a new hall was finished. In 1713, Sir Francis Blakiston died with no male heir and so the Gibside property passed onto his daughter who had married into the Bowes family. This family through George Bowes (1701 – 1760) would become rich through coal found in some of his other properties, racehorse breeding and iron works he helped finance. He was a man of many interests, rich and influential and was for some years Member of Parliament for County Durham. George Bowes did much work to improve Gibside by hiring Lancelot “Capability” Brown, the famous landscape architect of the 18th century. George also commissioned a banqueting hall, a column with the statue of British Liberty, new stables and an extension to the existing hall. An Orangery was also built and used for growing tropical plants and fruits.
When George died, his daughter inherited his estates and later married John Lyon, 9th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne (a Scottish title), who later took the name “Bowes”, as a condition of the will of George Bowes, in order to inherit the Bowes estate. They formed the Bowes-Lyon family, one of whose descendants was the late Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, known in Britain as The Queen Mother. Hence, George Bowes would be the present Queen Elizabeth II’s great-great-great-great-great-grandfather. Out of respect for his late father-in-law, John Lyon built a chapel in the grounds as a mausoleum, in which Bowes was finally interred by his grandson and heir, John Bowes-Lyon, when it was completed it in 1812.
After various disastrous and unorthodox marriages within the Bowes-Lyon family the 19th century, the grounds were neglected in the first half of the twentieth century. Queen Elizabeth, the wife of King George VI and mother of the current Queen, nee Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, passed on the estate to the National Trust in 1966.
Today the National Trust have done much to restore this historic property and have made Gibside a popular tourist site with much to do, see and experience. We have been honoured to be able to stay at the accommodation in the old stables deep within the grounds surrounded by the great work of Capability Brown, ‘England’s greatest gardener.’ There is plenty of room for the kids to explore nature, history and play. This is a beautiful part of England with many educational and fun facilities nearby such as Beamish open air museum, Newcastle city and castles galore. Together with our capable staff, all this will facilitate the children to learn English without realising they are learning.