Baroque Seaton Delaval Hall gets £3.7m lottery boost

Image source, National Trust
Image caption,
Work on the hall began in 1718 and took 10 years to complete

A Northumberland stately home, once known for its outrageous parties, has been given a £3.7m restoration grant from the National Lottery.

The 18th-Century Seaton Delaval Hall, which is run by the National Trust, was the venue for the theatrical Delaval family's lavish balls and plays.

Guests would also be victim to elaborate practical jokes.

The funds will go to revamp areas damaged in the 19th Century and improve facilities for visitors.

Image source, National Trust
Image caption,
The Hall's circular staircases are in need of urgent repairs

The larger-than-life "Gay Delavals" were among the most outrageous of all Georgian partygoers.

Guests would sometimes awake to find their rooms had been turned upside down with furniture fixed to the ceiling.

A mechanical bed would also give way to drop the sleepy occupant into a bath of freezing water and walls would disappear just as guests were undressing.

Completed by Sir John Vanbrugh, architect of Blenheim Palace, in 1728 for Admiral George Delaval, the hall was badly damaged by a fire in 1822 and parts fell into disrepair.

Image source, NAtional trust
Image caption,
The Delavals were known for hosting lavish parties

The National Trust acquired it in 2009 and has been carrying out crucial repairs to ensure the survival of one of Sir John's greatest works.

The lottery grant will allow further urgent conservation works to be done on the roof, basement and circular staircases.

It will also allow the Trust to install new visitor facilities and work with artists to develop new exhibitions.

Ros Kerslake, chief executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: "This final architectural work of Sir John Vanbrugh, Seaton Delaval Hall, is a particularly fine example of Baroque architecture in England, with an equally rare and important designed landscape.

"Plans to create a more welcoming experience for visitors, including highlighting the hall's reputation for theatrics and parties and involving local students in the restoration, make it thoroughly deserving of National Lottery support."

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