We are delighted to have been appointed by the Dobson Family Trust to support them in the development of an Estate Strategy for Brancepeth Castle, Durham.
Brancepeth Castle is Grade I Listed and has a long and fascinating history. Although it has Anglo Saxon origins the first recorded reference to Brancepeth is in 1216. It has been through several phases of extensive remodelling over its lifetime, the first of which was led by the powerful Neville family during the 14th century. The Castle remained in the ownership of the family until the 16th century when it was seized by the Crown following their involvement in the ‘Rising of the North’, an infamous and ultimately doomed plot to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I.
In the late 18th century Brancepeth Castle was bought by William Russell, a Sunderland banker. The Russell family oversaw the second and third phases of remodelling; much of what is visible today is their legacy. The second phase of restoration took place around 1818, led by John Paterson, who trained with Robert Adam. The third phase was overseen by Anthony Salvin, an expert of medieval buildings and architect, between 1864-75. Salvin was famed for his somewhat over enthusiastic ‘restoration’ of medieval structures and remains a controversial figure.
More recently the Castle was used during WWI as an hospital and later the regimental headquarters of the Durham Light Infantry; Margaret Dobson bought the castle in 1978 to house the Dobson Books publishing stock and it remains in family ownership today.
The family are working closely with Historic England to deliver a programme of urgent repairs as the Castle is currently on the Historic England Heritage At Risk Register. We are thrilled to be commissioned to complement this work by developing a sensitive Estate Strategy to help ensure a viable and sustainable future for the site.