A park and gardens probably laid out in the mid to late C18 with lodges of mid to late C19 date.
The park was probably laid out in the years which followed the erection of the Hall in c 1760 for Newcastle merchant John Simpson, and alteration followed in the mid to late C19.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Bradley Hall lies c 1.3km south-east of the village of Wylam in a rural and agricultural setting. The c 42ha site is on land which slopes gently down to the south. The steep sides of Bradley Dene run along the eastern edge of the site. The boundaries are formed by the old line of the A695 to the south, where there is a short section of wall and C20 fencing, a fence along the line of a track to Bradley Farm to the west, the edge of woodland on the eastern edge of Bradley Dene, where there are stretches of cast-iron fencing, the line of Sled Lane to the north-east where there is a wall, and fences dividing the park from farmland to the north and north-west.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
There are two main entrances, both with lodges probably of mid to late C19 date which are not shown on the 1857 OS map. On the north side of the site a drive runs south from Sled Lane; North Lodge lies on the east side of the drive c 100m south of the entrance gate. The drive continues south through woodland, with Bradley Dene immediately to the east, to the Hall and stables, as shown on the 1857 OS map. On the south side of the site South Lodge is located beside a gated entrance from which a drive, not shown on the 1857 OS map, runs north to join with the north drive. Other access points to the site are informal paths and tracks.
Bradley Hall (listed grade II*) was built for John Simpson c 1760 in neoclassical style and altered by John Dobson for the first Lord Ravensworth in 1813. James Paine has been credited with the design but it is thought that he is unlikely to have been involved, except possibly at a preliminary stage, and William Newton is a possible candidate for the architect (Leach 1988). The Hall is on a platform at the top of a slope with the principal front facing south over gently falling land. It is in use (1998) as a private residence.
There are stables and ancillary buildings arranged around a courtyard which adjoins the rear (north) side of the Hall which are in use (1998) as residential accommodation.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
There are gardens on all but the north side of the Hall. A path leads from the drive and runs west in front of the Hall and continues into the pleasure grounds to the west. South of the Hall there is a grassed terrace giving views over the parkland from which it is divided by a ha-ha (C18, listed grade II). A second grassed terrace, running at right-angles to the first, lies immediately to the west. A wall with a herbaceous border along its inner face is attached to the west side of the Hall and set back c 30m from the front forming a rectangular area on this side of the building. This area is shown on a planting plan of c 1842 by J Cook, at which time the wall appears to be aligned to run slightly north-west, as is also suggested on the 1857 OS plan. Some 80m north-west of the Hall there is an orangery (late C18/early C19, listed grade II) of brick with multi-paned full-height windows along its southern elevation divided into six bays by simple pilasters. Views from the orangery over the park and lake are obscured by tall shrubs. Pleasure grounds to the north and west of the orangery consist of woodland with shrubs and specimen trees. Some 100m north-west of the Hall there is a tumulus in the woodland with an icehouse (C18, listed grade II) in its north side. West of the icehouse the land falls away to the west as a wooded slope.
On the east side of the Hall there are gardens with informal planting and some mature trees. A gravel turning circle in front of the entrance on the east front was laid out in the late C20 when the drive was re-routed to the east.
There is open parkland with scattered mature trees to the south, where there is ridge and furrow, and to the west of the Hall. A lake, consisting of an elongated stretch of water aligned north-east/south-west lies c 250m south-west of the Hall. This is on the site of an oval fishpond marked on the 1857 OS map, which shows two rectangular ponds to the south-west which seem to have been incorporated in the present lake.
Bradley Dene runs along the east side of the site immediately to the east of the drive, from which it is divided by cast-iron fencing. The steep-sided Dene is wooded, and the Bradley Burn runs along the bottom. There are paths through the woodland, including one shown on the 1857 OS map which led across a footbridge to Sled Lane and the kitchen garden.
The kitchen garden lies c 200m north-east of the Hall on the other side of Sled Lane, on land overlooking Bradley Dene to the west. The gardens are sub-rectangular and walled with red bricks with the former gardener's house against the inner north wall, much as shown on the 1857 OS map. The garden is currently (1998) in use as a commercial garden centre.
N Pevsner and E Williamson, The Buildings of England: County Durham (1983), p 113
P Leach, James Paine (1988), pp 168, 232
F Green, A Guide to the Parks and Gardens of Tyne & Wear (1995), p 19
J Cook, Planting Plan, c 1842
OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1857
Description written: April 1998
Register Inspector: CEH
Edited: September 2000