Most of my visits for this column are to towns and cities, but small rural stations sometimes yield
useful places to visit. I was in need of a “writing day” and settled upon Ellingham Hall in north
Northumberland for a day out, using the small station at Chathill only 1.5 miles away, and less if I
had walked across the fields on 13th November (in the dark) which I did not!
What is Ellingham Hall?
Ellingham Hall is an exclusive wedding venue inland from Seahouses, with 18 well-appointed
bedrooms and five rooms inside the Hall for weddings and corporate events, the largest
accommodating 140 seated delegates. I arranged to go on a quiet day between weddings and had
use of the mezzanine floor in the former chapel, which had a good wifi signal and pleasant views.
The dining room and drawing room, as well as the entrance hall can be used for events.
Unsurprisingly, most people come by car.
They advertise rail access to Morpeth 28.5 miles away and Berwick 23 miles away, but Alnmouth is
better for long-distance trains, and Chathill even closer but this only has one train (the “Chathill
Flyer”) from Newcastle and back – more heavily loaded – in the morning peak, and one return trip in
The day did not start off too well. There was a serious incident at Killingworth and the 0555 from
Newcastle was canceled. I was put into a taxi which took me all the way to Ellingham so I still
arrived on time. My local taxi firm estimated the fare at £80, whilst I had paid £18.30 (without
railcard) for the return ticket. A much-needed cup of coffee, then an orientation tour of the building
and its extensive facilities. Later I saw some of the seven spacious self-catering stone cottages. I
had three hours of solid work time until I set off to explore the village and have a seafood salad lunch in
the excellent Pack Horse pub. Since I was the only guest in the Hall, the kitchen was not
unreasonably closed for the day.
St. Maurice’s Church
I had free access to the whole building including the games room in the cellar but took a walk to visit
St. Maurice’s church close by. The unlocked Anglican church features a fascinating stained-glass
window featuring the four major building projects of the age which were, in order, the Ark in 2248
BC, the Temple at Jerusalem in 1012 BC, the building of Durham Cathedral in 1093 AD and the
rebuilding of Ellingham Church in 1862! I think Archbishop Ussher’s chronology, which dated the
start of creation to the 22nd October 4004 BC at 6 pm, was still in use in the nineteenth century
Ellingham. The churchyard, pictured, was interesting but I never found the way to St. Maurice’s
Well, and returned to the Hall an hour after lunch for some more work.
By six o’clock I was ready to return home, although the staff was concerned for my welfare walking
on dark roads back to the station with my little torch. I allowed an hour to get to Chathill but that
was ample, and a young woman picked me up on the road, as they do in rural Northumberland, and
gave me a lift to the station and its informative little waiting room. The 1915 return train was on
time, comfortable and almost empty, and arrived in Newcastle at 2016 with only one other
passenger. It may not have been the easiest way to get to Ellingham, but it made for a memorable
Thanks to Anthony Hunter (GM) and his team for their hospitality.
Contact Lynn Sanderson, Sales and Marketing Manager 01665 568118
Written by Alex Nelson, Stationmaster, Chester-le-Street and Eaglescliffe
For more information on the Places to Go series, and train tickets around the UK, visit the NationalRail website here.