Cragside House, Gardens and Estate

Picture is copyright Andy F and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.


Name: Cragside House
Address: Rothbury, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE65 7PX.
Telephone: 01669 620333

Center map

The Grade I listed Cragside House was once the home to the noted Victorian inventor and industrialist William Armstrong and is a home not only noted for its splendour inside and breathtaking exterior, but for the historic “firsts” that took place at Cragside. For example, Cragside was the first house in the world to have been lit by hydroelectricity.

William Armstrong bought Cragside in 1864 with the intention of using it as a weekend retreat and as such at that time the property was a modest size. Shortly after 1866, Armstrong hired the distinguished architect Richard Norman Shaw to increase the size and splendour of the estate and over the 15 years that followed, Cragside was turned into a large country mansion with a number of exquisite features. At one point Cragside included an astronomical observatory and a scientific laboratory.

In 1868 a hydraulic engine was installed which was a precursor to the Siemens dynamo that was added in 1870 to harness the power of the water from the lakes to become the world’s first small scale hydroelectric power station. The generators were continually added to in order to cope with the demand for the increase power requirements within the estate.

Armstrong was a powerful industrialist with a number of high profile customers and Cragside House was a retreat that he could be proud to invite some of his largest clients. It is known that among the noted guests that slept in the large carved black walnut bed which was created for only the most important of visitors was The King of Siam, the Crown Prince of Afghanistan and the Shah of Persia.

It would appear that Armstrong was the guiding force for the setting in which Cragside sits. The surrounding hillside was blasted to expose craggy rock formations leading it to become one of Europe’s biggest rock gardens. In addition there is 1,700 acres of grounds that were created by planting millions of conifers, rhododendrons and alpines on what were originally bare slopes.

Cragside House has been in the care of the National Trust since 1977 and in 2007 the property reopened after an extensive program of restoration by the National Trust.

What’s There?

  • Cragside House was the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectric power.
  • The estate contains one of the largest rock gardens in Europe.
  • See all of the ingenious gadgets in the house.
  • Spectacular views and walks through woodland and around lakes.
  • Stables tea-room.
  • Gift shop.
  • Plants for sale.
  • Children’s adventure play area.
  • Nelly’s Labyrinth (a network of tunnels and paths through the rhododendron forest).
  • Car park.
  • Baby change.
  • Children’s guides


Cragside House was the first property to be lit by hydroelectricity and it was home to the world’s first hydroelectric power station.
Cragside was featured in the Abroad Again in Britain documentary hosted by Jonathan Meades, episode 2 (2005).
BBC One’s Britain’s Hidden Heritage programme featured Cragside in the 21st August 2011 episode.


Admission to the house, garden and estate at Cragside is £13.20 per adult, £6.60 per child and a family ticket costs £33.

There is free admission for all National Trust members.

See more information on National Trust Membership.