Dalemain House & Gardens, Cumbria

The History of Dalemain Cumbria

The name Dalemain means ‘manor in the valley’, and there has been a settlement in its position since the time of the Saxons.The first recorded mention of a building on this site, is of a fortified pele tower in the reign of Henry II; one of a line of towers built to protect the country against the marauding and barbaric ‘border reiver’ Scots to the North.

In the 14th century a manor hall was added with a second tower, and during the 16th century two wings housing kitchen and living quarters were built, one on each side of the main building. These various building works provide a glorious confusion of winding passages, quaint stairways and unexpected rooms in the house that stands today; the Fretwork Room particularly has a magnificent sixteenth-century plaster ceiling and beautiful oak paneling.

In 1679, Sir Edward Hasell bought Dalemain thanks to a legacy from his employer Lady Anne Clifford. Sir Edward acted as ‘Chiefe Officer’ to Lady Anne Clifford until her death in 1676. As thanks, he was given various gifts from Lady Anne, including her portrait by Bracken and her Diary of 1676 both of which are on show. Sir Edward Hasell bought Dalemain from the Layton family, and it has remained in his family ever since.

Although he made minor changes to the building it was not until later when his son, Edward, built an impressive Georgian front in 1744. This enclosed a central courtyard between the new and the old parts of the house and the house became much grander with public rooms including the breath-taking Chinese Room with its original eighteenth-century, hand-painted wallpaper, riotously alive with birds, insects and flowers. The Georgian facade is the first view of Dalemain for most visitors, an impressive sight from the road, before the courtyard and medieval structures comes into view.

There have been no major alterations since 1744 and the interior has thus gradually developed slowly. In 1920 much of the house was modernised by Gertrude Hasell, wife of Major Hasell, who introduced electricity, central heating and redecorated many of the rooms.

The house was opened to the public in 1977 but remains very much lived in by the Hasell-McCosh family where rooms are used throughout the year. There are interesting collections of fine furniture, family portraits, ceramics, dolls’ houses, and old toys.
Images thanks to Cumbria Tourism
History of Dalemain -Curtesy of Dalemain.com
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