Monday, 21 May 2012

A Brief History of Doxford House - site of action!

The site of some of the action from my almost completed 4th Steele novel 'A Changed Reality'. Even as a child growing up within half a mile of the place there was a mysteriousness that was hinted at rather than given voice to. 

 The estate was once part of the Silksworth Hall manorial lands owned by the Robinson family. It was separated from the main estate before the 1600s. The history of the Robinson estate can be found in Surtees book ‘The History of County Durham’. A medieval Chantry chapel lie’s under the ground at the side of the house - hence the name of the area - Chapel Garth.
In 1775 - 1780 William Johnson decided to build the mansion house at Silksworth, the fine moulded ceilings date from this time and is still visible and carefully preserved in the house today. William Johnson then tried to let the property, according to an advert in Newcastle papers in 1783. He died in 1792 leaving the property to a friend, the lawyer Hendry Hopper of Durham.
Charles Doxford, with the help of his Head Gardner Henry Samuel Whitely extensively laid out the gardens and lake before the 1st World War. Henry Whitely came from Lowther Castle and was responsible in 1885 for the displays and floral decorations for the visit of Kaiser William II Charles Doxford’s ship building company was then at its height and he was a very wealthy man. His son Charles Junior lived at Burdon Hall, whilst his daughter Aline Doxford continued to live at Silksworth/Doxford House after her father’s death in 1935. Her mother had died many years before (they are both buried in St. Matthew’s, Silksworth where I worshipped as a child).

The conservatory that is featured in the book as a point of access by Patrick Steele and Naomi Kobayashi - photographed in 2006.

God Bless