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Great days out.

Bessie surtees' HOUSE

Just a few steps from the Quayside in Newcastle lies a hidden gem. Two 16th and 17th century merchants' houses lurk there, one of them a rare example of Jacobean architecture.

They are owned by English Heritage who have opened one of these amazing houses to the public.

This building was originally owned by none other than the father of Bessie Surtees.

She became famous for jumping from a window to elope with a young local boy, John Scott, who was later to become Lord Chancellor in 1771.

In later life he was an extremely wealthy landowner and was given the title of Lord Eldon.

He was very prominent in the city and Eldon Square shopping centre is named after him.

An exhibition explaining the history of the two houses is available on the first floor.

Overall the buildings provide an informative short trip with a hint of mystery as you can try to guess from which window Bessie jumped.

Entry is free and it is open 10am-4pm Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays.

BAMBURGH CASTLE

This stunning castle has its beginnings in the sixth century when King Ida the Flamebearer conquered Northumberland.

His grandson, Ethelfrith, gave

the settlement to his wife, Bebba, and it was then named Bebbanburgh in her honour.

This has been corrupted through the centuries to the modern form of the name.

Back then the castle looked nothing like the fortress we see today.

It was not until the Norman Conquest of England, (1066 and all that), that skilled fortification builders started work on the imposing structure.

The castle passed through several owners before it was bought by Lord Armstrong. The Armstrong family still owns it today and it remains the family home.

Being nearly 1,000 years old, the stone structure has taken a battering over the years.

But extensive restoration work carried out in the 18th and 19th centuries ensures that it is still an impressive sight.

To truly get a feel for the building, join the public tour which guides visitors around the main points of interest in the castle as well as providing information about its history.

Some of the highlights include the beautiful wood-panelled great hall and the dungeon where children have fun learning about the gruesome punishments handed out to criminals in the past.

Also worth a look is the Armstrong Museum in the old laundry building in the north ward of the castle.

This gives a fascinating insight into the engineering work of the first Lord Armstrong who excelled in many fields, including ships and arms.

In the same building you can find relics from the entire history of aviation, with artefacts from both world wars making up a large part of the exhibition at the Bamburgh Castle Aviation Artefacts Museum.

The castle is open daily in 2005 until October 31, from 11am to 5pm.

Last entry is at 4-30pm, but allow lots of time to see all the attractions.

Adult admission costs pounds 5.50, children are pounds 2.50 and seniors pounds 4.50. Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more. http://www. bamburghcastle.com/ tel: 01668 214515
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 30, 2005
Words:526
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