|Albums > Heritage Open Days 2011 > Bessie Surtess House|
|Two Merchant Houses in Sandhill, Newcastle upon Tyne which have been carefully restored by English Heritage and named collectively as Bessie Surtees House but actually comprise of three distinct buildings. Those being Bessie Surtees House (number 41 Sandhill), Milbank House (Number 44 Sandhill) and a 1930's 'folly' called Maddison House which stands at the rear of Bessie Surtees House.|
Rich Merchants originally lived on the Quayside but they gradually went further up the hill to the higher parts of Newcastle. You can tell the owner of Bessie Surtees House was rich due to the number of windows as in those days there was a tax on windows!
Bessie Surtees and Milbank both date from at least the sixteenth century, with Milbank having been refaced with red bricks in the early 1700's. There is however evidence to suggest that houses have stood on the site from at least 1465 when Robert Rhodes had a house built there and some areas of the present buildings may have been amalgamated from that period.
Many of the early features of the buildings have been retained including what is considered to be an original seventeenth century plaster ceiling.
A long list of owners of the houses is recorded and many others have leased them. Perhaps the most famous occupants were the Surtees family who resided there in the 1700's.
Bessie Surtees was the daughter of Aubone Surtees who was a wealthy merchant. Bessie fell in love with John Scott from nearby Love Lane but Aubone Surtees disapproved as he did not consider Scott was from a high enough standing in society. This was despite the fact that Scott's father was a Hostman (coal merchant).
On 18th November 1772 both Bessie and John Scott eloped, with Bessie climbing down from a window at the front of the house. Away they travelled in a coach to Scotland and were duly married.
John Scott's social standing was to be much elevated in later life when he became a Lawyer, then Lord Chancellor of England and the title Lord Eldon. John Scott's brother, William also became a Lord with the title of 1st Baron Stowell. Both Scott's have subsequently been remembered in street and place names in Newcastle, Eldon Square and Stowell Street.
Bessie Surtees House is open to the public under the guardianship of English Heritage except on Sundays - free entry.