|"The ancient hall has crumpled stone by stone ;
Now but in fragments are its ruins found." - Joshua Lax.
WITHIN a mile to the east of Gibside, on the bank above Winlaton Mill and on the edge of a steep brow overlooking the Derwent Valley stand in ruins, the old Manor House of Hollinside. It is an interesting place, and possesses an interesting history.
The earliest mention of the place occurs at the beginning of the fourteenth century. In the year 1317 it belonged to a family of the name of Hollinside and on March 13th, 1318, Thomas Hollinside conveyed his manor of Hollinside, near Axwell, to William Bointon, or de Boyneton, of Newcastle, and Isolda, his wife, with all his demesne lands, and free service of his tenants, a watermill called Clokinthenns, situate upon the New Dene Burn, and his fishery in the Derwent.
The name Clokinthenns is still found in the neighbourhood, but in a slightly corrupted form as Clockburn. The mill mentioned as existing in 1318; is evidently a predecessor of the present Clockburn Mill which stands a little to the west of the Manor House.
Hollinside next passed into the hands of the Burdon or Burton fancily, and from thence by marriage to the Redheughs, a wealthy northern family whose name is still preserved in the Redheugh Bridge across the Tyne at Gateshead. From thence it passed to the Massams or Mashams, who were also possessors of part of Gibside, and from thence to the Harding family. About 1430, Roger Harding, a burgess of Newcastle, and a descendant of Sampson Harding, who was Mayor of Newcastle from 1396 to 1399 inclusive, and who was also M.P. for the same city, acquired the Hollinside Manor by marriage, and it remained in his family until about 1730, when owing to their shattered fortune; they had been obliged to mortgage their estates to the Bowes family of Gibside, and it passed to that family by foreclosure and subsequent conveyance. It still forms a portion of the Gibside estate.
When the present building was built, and when it ceased to be a residence is unknown. Judging from its architecture it probably dates from the thirteenth century. From the ruins which remain, we have an idea of its ancient strength and importance, the walls being of great thickness. It seems to have been a kind of peel and to have been built rather with a view to defence from enemies than with an object of comfort or convenience. At the time of its erection things were different from what they now are, for then each one had to depend on his own strength and fortress for protection.
The Manor House, which was of three stories, measures externally about fifty-two feet in length from north-east to south west. From the main building and in a line with the north aid south walls, a couple of wings project to the east, the space between them, about ten feet in width, being covered over by an arch, which springs from a height of about twenty-two feet from the ground, and forms a sort of entrance porch. This porch was evidently surmounted by a small tower or turret, and from the waterlines preserved on it we can see that both the main building and the wings were covered by one enormous roof of considerable pitch. On the west side a small turret or watch tower projects about ten feet, in a line with the south wall, which in consequence presents a front of about forty-five feet of uniform masonry. The north-east angle has, at no remote period, being strengthened by a solid buttress of good ashlar work.
On passing under the two mounted ribs which supported the vaults of the porch the. visitor conies to the square headed door of the house which, with the-thin wall in which it is placed is probably a late insertion. A noticeable peculiarity of this door is that it opened outwards. About three feet further in is a thicker wall, with, what there is every reason to believe was the original entrance, a doorway formed of two round stones. The space on the right, between these walls, is such, as is usually seen in buildings of this class, and may have been occupied by a straight stair leading up to the first floor. No traces of steps, however, are to be found, but high up in the inner wall is a small window or entrance, which would have no use otherwise if the outer, wall had always been there. It has been supposed that this hole may have been used by the defenders, when hard pressed by foes, to pour down boiling lead on their devoted heads. This was no unusual weapon in the olden days, and the explanation seems feasible. Instead of a permanent staircase it may have been that access was had by means of ladders only. The basement into which the inner door opens measures about forty-eight feet by seventeen feet. hear the south west corner are three steps leading down to the entrance of the basement of the square turret, or tower, and generally supposed to have been a kind of dungeon. Of the entrance only the door step is left. A low door, one jamb of which remains, led to a chamber within the south-east wing, which had, as the corbel shows, a wooden floor above it. The basement of the north wing is roughly vaulted over.
The first floor is also very interesting. At each end of the main building was a rude transomed window of two pointed lights, with an oval opening in the spandrel above. The northern window has been removed and replaced by a window of Jacobean architecture. The south window is intact. In the wall to tile right of the north window is a recess which contains a remarkably perfect shallow trough or sink the rough full lipped spout from which is to be seen from the outside. There is evidence of ii fireplace, apparently an addition at a late period, almost directly over the entrance to the basement. The southern window of the first story, which' is in the early decorated style of architecture of about the middle of the thirteenth century, is supposed by a good many, to be the window of an apartment, which has been used as a chapel. In the apartment over the vault in the north-east wing, there is a curious recess between one of the two little east windows, and a similar one on the south side. The majority of the windows in the manor house are small oblong or square holes.
Judging from appearances at the present clay the rooms in the basement have been used as store houses for the reception of goods, and, perhaps, of cattle only; the upper stories being the dwelling rooms.
A little to the north are the ruins of an outbuilding, which has been erected at a date later than the manor house, one room of which has been a kitchen, which possesses above the fireplace, a solid block of carved masonry of the Tudor period of workman-ship. Formerly a slab bearing the initials R.H., and the coat-of-arms of the Harding family - Gules, three greyhounds current or, collared azure; hung over the mantle of the kitchen, but it was removed in the early part of the nineteenth century, when the house was rapidly falling to ruin, by a descendant of the Harding family, who yet retain the family relic.
At the close of the "eighties," Lord Strathmore, on whose grounds the ruins of the old manor house stand, had them cleared of the rubbish within the walls, and every care is now taken of them,