Newton Manor, Gosforth: Interpretation Board

Newton Manor, Gosforth, Seascale, Cumbria: Interpretation Board

Greenlane Archaeology was commissioned to produce an interpretation board for Newton Manor, entitled ‘Newton Manor: from farmhouse to country house – the home of the Falcon-Stewards’. The first recorded property on this site was known as Low Ling Bank (or Low Lingbank), which was present from at least 1774. It is claimed to have been originally one of a number of manor houses built and owned by the Senhouse family, although it was occupied by farmers in the 1840s and 1850s. The manor of Newton and Seascale was purchased in 1841 by Anthony Benn Steward, a local magistrate from Whitehaven, after the death of Sir Humphrey le Fleming Senhouse, and it remained in the Steward family into the 20th century.

‘Low Lingbank’ is depicted in detail on the Ordnance Survey maps from the 1860s, but the house became known as Newton Manor after Anthony Benn Steward and his family moved in. The Steward family completely remodelled the site, building a Gothic mansion sometime in the late 19th century. The building passed through marriage to the Falcon family, who took on the name Steward. It is not known who designed the original building, but in 1907 the Falcon-Stewards extended it with the addition of a two storey block to the north-east side with a billiard room on the ground floor and two bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor, with designs produced by the Whitehaven architect G Nelson. It is clear that the Stewards and their successors did not always live at Newton Manor and it was often rented out. One of the last members of the family associated with the building, Commander Hugh William Falcon-Steward, had a distinguished military career. By the late 20th century it had become derelict due to water ingress through the roof, but in its heyday an advertisement from 1933 describes it as having oak panelling, a dining room, drawing room, smoke room, billiard room, 12 bedrooms, and three bathrooms with hot and cold water.

Prior to its demolition the building was subject to an archaeological building recording by Greenlane Archaeology, although the interior was largely inaccessible due to its poor condition. The main part of the building comprised a linear range orientated approximately north-west/south-east, with numerous projecting elements on the south-west side. The rectangular block to the north-east was connected to the main part by an enclosed walkway at first floor level. Both buildings were set over two storeys, although the detached block was built into the slope allowing a basement level corresponding with the ground floor of the main house. The entire structure was finished with red sandstone, with dressed blocks in neat courses for the majority and finely dressed details such as window and door surrounds and quoins, although the south-east end of the front elevation, the north-east elevation and all of the elevations of the detached block were finished with smooth render scored to give the appearance of ashlar blocks. The roofs were grey slate, finished with sandstone ridge tiles and occasional octagonal stone finials and the roof of the detached block was hipped. The chimney stacks were typically constructed from dressed stone with tall octagonal ceramic chimneypots.

The building recording revealed little evidence for any phases of activity predating the late 19th century, although a 12-light sash window of earlier form in the rear elevation suggested that some material had been reused in its construction. The exact date when the main part of the house was built is not known as there are no known architect’s plans or other records; however, the map evidence shows that it was constructed between c.1867 and c.1898. The main part of the building was built in a single phase and contained a number of Gothic Revival architectural details, including numerous faux-medieval elements such as the arched openings, false ‘arrow-slit’, ‘turret’, and heraldic shields, the decorated one of which has been incorporated into the mount for this panel. The check pattern is taken from the Steward family crest. A datestone on the detached block to the north-east of the main building shows that it was constructed or perhaps completed in February 1908; the initials appear to relate to the children of Williams Watts Curwen Falcon-Steward, the owner at the time. Inside, the house was extensively modernised in the late 20th century, which led to the loss of many decorative features such as the fireplaces, and a small timber outshut was added to the south-east end. The building came to be in poor condition once water got in through the roof and most of the internal floors collapsed.