A HISTORY group has been drafted in to help chart the life of a popular stately home.
Norma and Haydn Neal and Barbara Leo were asked by Sir John Hall to write a book about the history of his home, Wynyard Hall, on the outskirts of Hartlepool.
Sir John approached the trio, who are all members of Sedgefield Local History Group, to write the book after they met him during a visit to the grand country house.
The home dates back to medieval times, around 1230, but it was originally a much smaller manor house.
The earliest known family to live there were thought to be called Chapell.
Frances Anne Vane Tempest, born in 1800, inherited the home from her father, Sir Henry, who owned a number of collieries, including Seaham, Penshaw and Rainton.
When she was 19, she married Irish nobleman Charles Stewart, who later inherited the title, the Marquis of Londonderry.
In 1822, the Marquis commissioned the home to be rebuilt.
But a fire in the chapel in 1841 meant work to the interior had to re-start.
Eight years later, the Wynyard Hall as we know it today was completed.
For at least 170 years, it was home to the Londonderrys, until Sir John bought the house from the ninth Marquis of Londonderry, Alastair Londonderry, who now lives in Dorset.
It was acquired by the Army during the Second World War.
It was also a teacher training college from 1946 until 1961, as there was a shortage of teachers following the Second World War.
Former Manor College and Catcote School teacher Norma, 62, who is originally from Hartlepool but has lived in Sedgefield for 40 years, said: “We are very proud of the book, I can’t get enough of Wynyard now.
“It’s a real achievement on Sir John’s part – if he hadn’t bought it I’m sure it would have gone into dereliction.”
Sir John said: “This was a really interesting project and one which dates right back to the 12th century.
“I think it will be a great piece when it is completed, a lot of hard work has gone into it and there are some fascinating stories about the place.
“Wynyard Hall is a very important building in the context of the Tees Valley.
“It is seen as a tourist attraction now, but it is important not to forget about the history of the place.
“This book is a fascinating read, and to be honest I thought I knew all about the history of Wynyard but I’ve unearthed some things I had not been aware of.”
The 150-plus-page illustrated book, called Windows on Wynyard will be available in hardback or paperback from Wynyard Hall.