Visit a 16th Century House in Newcastle

Journey back in time to the 16th century and resurrect the past at Bessie Surtees House in Newcastle! A home with a romantic history, this amazing, five-story merchants’ house is an incredible example of Jacobian domestic architecture, built towards the end of the timber-framing tradition. It would have had a shop or store at ground level with living accommodation on the floors above it. The commercial importance of the area was well established, and many prominent merchants owned property there. Head on down to Bessie Surtees’s house now and become a rich, 16th-century merchant for the day, with sections refurnished with amazing, Tudor-style furniture.

How old is the house? When was it built?

How old? Very! We don’t know for sure exactly when it was built, however, the earliest recorded reference to a house on the site is from 1465! However, carvings on the fireplace in a first-floor room record a wedding in 1657. So we know it’s at least 364 years old, but it’s potentially older than 556 years old!

Explore a fascinating exhibition on the first floor, illustrating the long and varied history of the house. Marvel at the finely carved oak panelling, elaborate plaster ceilings and carved fire surrounds. These splendid period interiors are open to the public and free to visit. As one of the last Tudor buildings in the Newcastle area, Bessie Surtees House provides an intriguing mix of architecture and romance, set against the backdrop of Newcastle’s medieval streets.

The Surtees house is perhaps best known as the scene of the elopement of Bessie with John Scott. In 1772, Bessie, who lived there with her father, eloped from a first-floor window with John Scott, a coal merchant’s son. They ran away to Scotland where they were married. If you recognise the name John Scott, that might be because he went on the become a successful lawyer and, eventually, Lord Chancellor of England! You can still see the timber-framed window through which Bessie Surtees eloped. A cast iron plaque below tells the story.

  • Open 10:00 to 4:00
  • Monday to Friday
  • Book at least 7 days in advance, by phoning or emailing
  • Completely FREE!

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