Brinkburn Priory & Manor House
near Rothbury, Northumberland

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perfect peaceful picnic place
I've passed the signpost for Brinkburn Priory on many occasion en-route to nearby Cragside House but my only previous attempt to visit inconveniently coincided with the gates closing time!  However on a beautiful sunny Sunday in late May we eventually managed a successful visit to what turned out to be one of the nicest, most peaceful places I've ever had a picnic.
The car park is set at the top of the road away from the Priory & Manor House and its a fair walk down an uneven road to get to the site. However it's definitely worth 10 minutes of gravely walk to reach this picturesque riverside haven.
Unusually for this type of property, the 12th century Priory has actually been renovated and is fully 'roofed' and 'windowed' after apparently being in a ruinous state for a couple of hundred years! There were many pretty and ornate stained glass windows on the priory and we were greeted by the tuneful songs of a local women's choir rehearsing for a show later that day which definitely added to our experience. But I have to confess that I prefer my priories to be ruins left to the mercy of nature and the elements and I prefer to guess what it might of been like in days of long ago, instead I found the Priory to little too 'churchy' and not being a particularly religious type of person the building wasn't as appealing to me in its 'restored' condition.

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Brinkburn Manor House
On the other hand the Manor House was fantastic! Previously the building had been totaly renovated in the 1800s and in its current state of partial ruin it was very interesting to see the layers of history visible in the brick work inside the house.
You could see the faded grandeur of what was obviously once a very substantial & impressive Manor House but as the plaster was stripped away in many areas you could easily see where 'other' things had been. The main parts of the house that impressed me the most was the initial entrance hall with its grand staircase & ornate door architraves, and then the huge 'range' fire place found on the lower floor, which was not only pretty but so intact it looked like it could be lit and reused at any given moment.
The overall site had a large grassy area with lots of wild flowers and the river, although fenced off (and I didn't notice a way to actually reach it!) runs alongside making it a very peaceful & relaxing place. We did find what looked like some kind of small tunnel hidden away in the trees, but we weren't too sure what that was all about..perhaps a troll lives there! There is also a pretty building at the bottom of the site right next to the river which was once a mill. Although totally changed in style and now owned by the Landmark Trust this building was once a thatched watermill and features in a painting by JMW Turner.
There were a few art installations, which I enjoyed, namely a large bell to the rear of the Priory and a huge cute bird to the side of the Manor House.
There was a holiday property situated just outside of the site boundary which I remarked I would love to stay in sometime and would be an ideal 'get-away-from-it-all' location.
All in all it was a lovely place and I would definitely picnic there again. Well worth a visit indeed!

 


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