Seaton Delaval Hall is arguably one of the best surviving works of architect Sir John Vanbrugh, who was commissioned to create it in 1718. Although it was damaged by fire in 1822 and has significant conservation needs, it remains true to his original vision, with no major alterations overlying or obscuring his design for the hall or its associated designed landscape.
The Vanbrugh-designed buildings and landscape is rare as a whole. The Central Hall together with its service wings and garden sit high on Vanbrugh’s bastioned platform, at the heart of the designed landscape. Other 18th Century elements of considerable significance include the Grade II listed ‘netty’ building, the ice house, the brew house and the walled garden with its Grade II orangery. In the wider landscape, key features include the Grade II mausoleum of outstanding significance, and the egg pond.
Vanbrugh built Seaton Delaval Hall for Admiral George Delaval, MP, industrialist and naval hero. Later his nephew oversaw completion of the place and filled it with a charismatic family that became known as the ‘Gay Delavals’. They were renowned for staging theatrics, playing practical jokes and hosting masquerade balls, establishing their reputation for high spirits and high jinks.
Following the National Trust’s acquisition of the Hall, gardens and grounds in 2009, a program of urgent structural works was completed to make the building stable and watertight. Following detailed surveys and research, the National Trust is now embarking on a three-year £7.8 million project to undertake key conservation works to save the Hall, surrounding buildings and significant landscape features at greatest risk. The National Trust will also create new visitor facilities and learning and engagement opportunities to bring Seaton’s history to life.