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Delightful Delaval gets a chance to shine

Chris Jackson | 13:30 UK time, Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Seaton Delaval Hall

Seaton Delaval Hall and gardens

The North East's newest attraction is a bit of an antique, so it's rather appropriate that in July it will be swamped with nick-nacks, heirlooms and thousands of owners hoping they've been sitting on a fortune.

The Antiques Roadshow is coming to Seaton Delaval Hall. It's the National Trust's newest acquisition and as you'll know we did a behind-the-scenes film about how the staff and volunteers turned the place round in record time to open to the public.

With precious little cultural heritage to boast about in the south east corner of Northumberland it's great that millions of viewers will get to see the fabulous hall and its grounds.

The buildings were designed by Sir John Vanbrugh for Admiral George Delaval and were built between 1719 and 1732. The whole edifice jumps out at you as you drive between Seaton Delaval and the coast.

The family, which can be traced back to the Norman conquest, has been beset by tragedy down the ages.

  • One of the Delavals recklessly spent the family fortune
  • Neither Vanbrugh nor his patron saw the hall completed in their lifetime. George Delaval fell off his horse but was reputedly caught in the stirrup and was dragged along to his death.
  • The central part of the Grade I listed building was later gutted by fire.
Fiona Bruce on the Antiques Roadshow

Despite the internal damage the charred statues have an eerie presence. The beautiful gardens are tucked away behind the grand hall and will make a great backdrop for the TV show.

I'm sure Fiona Bruce will really enjoy her time at Seaton Delaval.

The programme makers usually expect 1,500 to 2,000 visitors to turn up to see if the experts will take a shine to their prized possession or car boot bargain.

I'm told everyone who comes does get seen by one of the pundits. If you want to be one of them you need to get to along on Thursday 14 July 2011.

Just as this 18th Century architectural treasure had been pretty much hidden for far too long we can only hope one of the artefacts brought along from someone's loft will also turn out to be hidden gem worthy of the limelight.

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