History of Harnham Hall

Harnham Hall is first mentioned as a fortalice (fortress) in the 1415 Harleian Manuscripts, with the house being added approximately 100 years later. The tower and house are built rather daringly on the edge of the crag surrounded by terraced gardens.

One of Harnham’s most famous inhabitants was Katherine Babington, whose husband was a captain in the Northumberland Militia and eventually went on to be Governor of Berwick. Katherine was said to be one of the most beautiful women in England;  it was reported that the streets of the towns she visited became impassable due to the crowds of people trying to catch a glimpse of such a beautiful lady. In an attempt to ease the congestion, a law was passed in Newcastle that she should only be allowed to eat in the back rooms of inns and hostelries to prevent people gathering in the streets.

Her strong will matched her beauty, both she and her husband were non-conformists of the time and in 1666 whilst the vicar was mid sermon, he was pulled from his pulpit by the son of the blacksmith who was acting under the orders of Katherine Babington.

She was promptly prosecuted and ordered to serve a prison sentence. To avoid going to gaol, this was served at Harnham in the tower, where she remained until her death in 1670.

The vicar at Bolam refused to allow her burial in consecrated ground, so her husband had a tomb hewn from the solid rock of the cliff below Harnham Hall. Years later the tomb was raided and her remains scattered. Her remains were later gathered and placed in the tomb where an inscription, written by Katherine reads:

My time is past as you may see,
I viewed the dead as you viewed me,
‘or long you’ll lie as low as I,
And some will look on thee.

Due to ongoing restoration, it is currently not possible to visit the tomb or its garden at present.

The dragon crest of the Babington family was installed in plaster on the ceiling of the parlour at Harnham Hall – since then the room has been known as the Dragon room.

Harnham Hall Timeline

What Our Harnham Hall Guests Say

Warm and friendlyly welcome. Beautiful house and location with plenty to explore locally. Excellent food prepared by host. Very good value.

A lovely house in a brilliant location with an amazing view. Jules is an excellent host; friendly, efficient and a very good cook – his breakfasts are fantastic! I’d say Harnham Hall is amongst the best B&B establishments I’ve stayed in and would recommend it without reservation.

Wow. An exceptional place. Beautiful scenery, luxurious room, delicious food and a warm welcome. Nothing was too much bother and the place was immaculate. Highlights were the extremely comfortable bed, the snug with a real fire, the view from the garden and being brought tea and coffee when we arrived so we instantly felt relaxed. We will be back.

A gem! Stunning peaceful location. Super attentive hosts even whilst they’re running a working farm! Well appointed, tastefully decorated room with extremely comfortable beds. A haven of calm. Hearty breaksfast using local quality produce. Jules also offers an evening meal which hits the spot too.

Wonderful overnight stay. If ever there was a 5* B&B this is it! John & Jules made us so welcome. The bedrooms, Dragon room and snug are extremely comfortable and very tastefully decorated. Harnham simply has a very magical feel of its’ own and is a place you’ll remember for a very long time.

Beautiful location & fantastic rooms. Decor was amazing, great hosts & we felt totally spoilt on our stay.