Date: 12th December 1978 Location: Bramlington Grange, N Yorkshire
Security on Arrival
Bramlington Grange is situated in the Yorkshire Moors, just outside Kildale. By road it is reached by turning east off the B1257 at Kirkby on to the unclassified Batterby Road to Kildale and then one mile further on to the east. Turn left, 20 yards past the “Pig and Bells” public house, on to a narrow track. There is a security checkpoint about 50 yards down the track, behind the hedges. If you are coming by public transport then travel to Middlesbrough and call from there, saying whether you are at the Bus or Railway station. Max Flowers will come out to collect you. If you do take a Taxi ask to be dropped at the “Pig and Bells” in Kildale, because the local taxi drivers do not know that we are here. Security is strict so please make sure you bring your FO passes with you. A dry stone wall surrounds the 200-acre estate. You are welcome to wander around the grounds but please keep to the marked paths and away from the perimeter wall other than at marked gates.
I welcome you to Bramlington Grange, the country home of the Foreign Secretary. This beautiful house, which dates from the mid 19th century, was the country home of the Julian family. Sir Henry Julian, the 8th Lord Aberavon died in 1968, without leaving an heir. The house passed to the state in settlement of Estate Duty. It became the country home of the Foreign Secretary in 1970, when the previous house, Arnley Court was restored and donated to the National Trust. This house had been fully modernised by the Julian family, who liked to entertain in comfort whenever family and friends could visit. The only changes that have been made for our benefit are the modern alarm system and the Foreign Secretary’s study bedroom. We also renamed the guest accommodation.
Each of the bedrooms has its own story to tell, but you can really only appreciate it by looking around, or ideally staying, in it. I shall just give you a few of the many stories told about the different rooms.
The Wellington Room was the favourite of Sir Julian Julian, the Second Lord Aberavon. He was a real eccentric who never married, but loved to entertain the young maids in this room, much to the chagrin of his mother, the Dowager Lady Clarissa Aberavon. It is said that the sounds of girlish giggles can still be heard in the still of the night. By tradition the clergy never stay in this room.
The Walpole Room used to be the small entertaining room next to the master’s bedroom. It was only converted into a separate bedroom in the 1960’s. An original Stubbs “Sir Jasper” hangs on the north wall.
The Disraeli Room was the prime guestroom of the Julian family. In 1844 it was used by the young Queen Victoria and Prince Albert when they were guests of the family. They stayed overnight on their way from Windsor to Glasgow where they were to embark on HMS Dreadnought on a visit to India.
The Pitt Room is of interest for its collection of oriental knives and daggers, amassed by Sir Godfrey Julian, the fifth Lord Aberavon. The room was traditionally used by the eldest son of the household, with all eight Lord Aberavons having used it.
The other bedrooms were originally servants’ bedrooms and were sub-divided. There was room for a butler, housekeeper, cook, six footmen and eight chambermaids. The area currently occupied by the bathroom in the Baldwin room was originally a secret room put there by Sir Percy Julian, the sixth Lord, who used it to hide from his creditors after he lost a fortune gambling.
The Lounge was the main entertaining room, used for all the family entertaining. The Metson Grand Piano dates from 1820. It has been played by many famous musicians when the family held their renowned soirees. Lady Annabel Julian, daughter of the fourth Lord Aberavon was an accomplished pianist who played before the ageing Queen Victoria at the opening of the Albert Hall in London. The fire screens are Chinese, the heavy stone desk lamp is Russian and the pair of swords over the fireplace is Arabian. The fifth Lord Aberavon claimed that they were execution swords that have been used.
The Study was the family’s room, containing many photographs and mementoes of trips abroad. Paintings of family members hang all around the walls. Only the second Lord, Sir Julian Julian is missing from the group. He refused to have his portrait painted; claiming that artists stole the souls of their subjects.
My Study Bedroom was originally the Lord’s estate office. It is not open for viewing.
The Dining Room is of interest for the Chippendale table and sideboard, the Mesk chairs and Spode Crockery. The family used the crockery up to the death of the eighth Lord. We decided to stop using it and display it instead when the Inland Revenue valuation exceeded £100,000. We do still use the silverware, which is all 17th century English manufacture.
The Garden is south-facing garden and in my view one of the finest features of the house. The Rose Garden, surrounded on three sides by high hedges is a haven of tranquillity and colour for most of the year. In winter the evergreen hedge with red berries provides a backdrop of colour. Spring sees the prelude, when all manner of bulbs bloom in front of the rose bushes, while summer brings out the main course of colour from the roses. In autumn, dahlias and chrysanthemums complete the feast. In the centre of the roses is a fountain with a statue of Eros. Well worth an afternoon with a good book, with only the cattle in the lower fields to see you. Or why not spend an hour or two in the Orangery looking out over the lawns. For the more energetic there is the tennis court, originally grass, but now converted to an all weather surface, or if that is too much there is always croquet in the lower garden. Mr and Mrs Flowers can provide you with the equipment you need. If you wish to enter the garden via the side gate to the left you will need to know the combination, which is changed at 6pm every Saturday. The current combination, which lasts until 18:00 on Saturday 13 December 1978 is 2189.
The Garage was a stable block for up to four horses, a carriage and jaunting cart. All this has been cleared away to give us room for six cars. The Victoriana Museum in York has two carriages that came from Bramlington Grange.
In the event of fire / emergency
Bramlington Grange has been fitted with the latest emergency technology to cater for anything from fire to terrorist attack. Throughout the downstairs are a series of push–button panic alarms and upstairs are “break-glass” fire alarms. These are all linked together. When activated they ring alarms throughout the house. In the event of any emergency activate the alarm. On hearing the alarm proceed via the nearest useable exit to the Tennis Court and await further instructions.
The introduction of the highly sensitive fire alarms has forced us to go away from any form of naked flame. We us electric cooking and oil fired radiators. The boiler is situated in the garage so that the pilot light will not set off the alarms. We have also had to introduce a complete smoking ban. We believe this provides a much healthier atmosphere. If you wish to smoke please go out into the grounds, as the no smoking rule is strictly applied.
Treddar Jones May 1974