Monkton Hall Hospital

Project Profile

Project Title :

Monkton Hall Hospital, Jarrow

Client :

South Tyneside PCT

Type of Work :

Building Recording, Evaluation, Planning Advice

Project Gallery 

Sundial on main elevation   Ogee arch design  
Staircase at Monkton Hall   Balustrade  
Modillion cornice decoration   Georgian elegance the front facade of Monkton Hall  


Monkton Hall Hospital

Monkton's genteel past

'Modern-built MANSION HOUSE fituate at Monkton, in the County of Durham, the Rooms whereof are neatly Pannel'd with fpacious Kitchen, Garden, Coach Houfe and every other Convenience neceffary for a Gentleman's Family'

Monkton Hall is a fine example of a late 18th century Georgian mansion. It is located at the western end of the village and originally stood in substantial grounds, although now much reduced. The Grade II listed building today forms part of a residential hospital run by the South Tyneside Primary Care Trust.

Monkton has a long history dating back to the early medieval period. The first documentary evidence of settlement is a land grant, dated 1074, made by Bishop Walcher to the monks of Monkwearmouth-Jarrow who were working on the rebuilding of the monastic church of St Paul's, and it was reputedly the birthplace of the Venerable Bede (673-735). This connection with the church continued after the Reformation, the Dean & Chapter of Durham Cathedral still retaining ownership of much of the surrounding land, including the 'half tenement' associated with the later hall.

The current hall was constructed around 1760 by William Burn. However, it seems that he occupied the property for only a short period of time. It is unclear what fate befell him but a newspaper article dated to 1770 details the sale of the newly built Hall described as a 'modern-built mansion house' with every convenience necessary for a gentleman and his family. It was bought by the Major family who retained it until the mid 19th century when it passed to William Snowball, a local industrialist. During this period the Hall underwent considerable expansion with new extensions added to the north (rear) and east of the property.

After passing through the hands of a number of tenants, including George Carins, a local ship owner, the Hall was finally bought in 1903 by Francis Scott, a market gardener. He cultivated the grounds around the building but opened out the Hall as a home for mentally handicapped boys, some of whom helped him work the land. In 1907 the 'Monkton Hall Hospital for the Feebly Minded' was officially founded. It remained a charitable organisation until 1948 when it was taken over by the newly formed National Health Service. Minute books from the hospital, surviving in the Northumberland Record Office, paint an evocative picture of life in the institution and the village during WWII. Following the war, the site underwent considerable change including the construction of four new blocks in the grounds immediately to the west of the Hall and housing developments to the north and northwest.

Despite its chequered past, Monkton Hall has retained a large number of original internal and external features including cornices, window cases and shutters, panelling, skirting, door surrounds, quoins and parapet banding; all typical of the period. Of particular note are the central staircase and a series of rather unusual Gothick features including an ogee arch on the first floor, an ogee window overlooking the staircase and an arched door to the rear. These features may represent the gradual transition being undertaken in architectural form during this period, moving from the Palladian reserve which is so evident in the front fa´┐Żade of the building, to the more whimsical forms of the Picturesque. The building also has important historical connections and reflects a series of social, cultural and political changes which have influenced the development of the region over the past 200 or so years including the way space was used within the public and private areas of the house; the accommodation of servants and services; changing social requirements reflected in the need for expansion; the nature of tenurial rights as administered via the Dean & Chapter; the rise of the new middle or 'professional' classes, and, not least, the operation of philanthropic institutions like the Trust as opposed to the work of the more municipal asylums.

In November 2010, NAA were commissioned by South Tyneside PCT to conduct a programme of Archaeological Buildings Survey (EH Level 2) in support of a planning and Listed Building Consent application to restore the Hall. The intention was to record the building prior to any intervention and assess the cultural significance of the heritage asset with the intention of informing the subsequent restoration plans.

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