The Middle House

On high ground between the Tyne Valley and the Roman Wall, there is a wild empty landscape populated almost entirely by sheep.  North of Newbrough and Settlingstones sits The Middle House, abandoned and alone beneath a vast Northumbrian sky.

It is visible long before you arrive; the rough track climbs out of Stonecroft and gradually peters out as it threads west from Park Dam and its solitary swans:

The Middle House ...

The Middle House ...

Abandoned ...

Abandoned ...

Information on the Middle House is sparse online but, this extract from an ancestry site peoples this abandoned space with the Mason family:

My direct line starts with the marriage of William MASON to Mary
RICHARDSON at Simonburn on 23rd June 1743, both shown ‘of this parish’. William
MASON was buried at Simonburn on 26 May 1774, of Middle House, Warden Parish.
Mary MASON died on April 5 1809, widow of William MASON, of Brokenheugh,
buried on 8 April 1809 at Newbrough, aged 97.

They had children baptised:

Ann MASON 24 June 1744, Simonburn (buried 5 December 1744, Simonburn)
Jane MASON 19 June 1748, Simonburn
*George MASON, 25 March 1750, Newbrough, of Page Croft
Ann MASON, 19 August 1753, Newbrough
Mary MASON, 5 December 1756, Newbrough

*George MASON married Sarah HILL at Warden on May 18 1778. They had
children, all baptised at Newbrough:

Jane MASON, 11 April 1779
Mary MASON, 21 May 1780
Sarah MASON, 7 April 1782
**William MASON, 3 October 1784
George MASON, 18 June 1786
Thomas MASON, 6 September 1789
Ann MASON, 5 February 1792

*George MASON died on 21 November 1809, of Middle House, Newbrough and,
surprisingly, left a will proved at York in 1810, where he is described as
of Middle House, Shepherd to Jasper Gibson of Newbrough Lodge. He names
wife Sarah, his sons William, George and Thomas.

**William MASON married first to Priscilla Soppit on 2 May 1807 at Warden.
They had children baptised at Newbrough:

Barbara MASON, 3 October 1808
George MASON, 18 November 1809

When the light dims in the west, it is not difficult to imagine the young Masons still running free across the high moors.



  1. Cate Franklyn · March 13, 2015

    The old worn row boat next to the fire place seems somehow poignant to me. I love abandoned homes!

    • northumbrianlight · March 13, 2015

      My thoughts too Cate – I wondered why on earth there would be a boat on the farm but then remembered the lake at Park Dam about 0.7 miles to the east. I guess there may be brown trout in there.

  2. LaVagabonde · March 13, 2015

    I’m surprised it’s still standing. Is it on public land? It looks relatively untouched by vandals, too. Spooky and fascinating. Did you find any personal remnants in the rubble?

    In the early 1990s, I explored an abandoned house in rural Michigan with my sister and some friends. It was like the inhabitants just left everything in a hurry. Skillet on the stove, clothes strewn around the bedrooms. We found an eviction notice dated in the 1940s (can’t remember the exact year now). It was one of the most haunting experiences I’ve ever had. How could all of those things still be there after so long?

    • northumbrianlight · March 13, 2015

      It’s at the end of a public footpath/right-of-way but some good distance from ‘civilisation’/local hooligans. The outbuildings are still in use for storing hay so I imagine another local farmer goes up there fairly regularly. The images were taken through a broken window and the doors locked so we didn’t venture in.

      The Michigan house sounds fascinating did you take pictures? There is something a little disturbing about these empty places – the ghosts of lives abandoned.

      • LaVagabonde · March 13, 2015

        No, sadly, no photos. That was in the pre digital days and I think I was totally camera-less at the time. I wondered about it last time I was in Michigan, but didn’t know if I would be brave enough to go inside if I even managed to find it again.

  3. Malin H · March 13, 2015

    Melancholic and beautiful at the same time… Great work, Robin.

    Makes me think of an episode of The Little House on the Prairie (The Legacy). Very strong episode…

    • northumbrianlight · March 13, 2015

      Many thanks Malin – ‘melancholic’ – exactly the right word.

  4. restlessjo · March 13, 2015

    I wonder who pulled the boat inside? Yes, probably fishing in the lake to help feed the family. 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · March 13, 2015

      Perhaps they were planning for some bad weather …
      “Sam asked Noah what were his business
      And t’old chap went on to remark,
      That not liking the look of the weather
      He was thinking of building an ark.”

  5. suej · March 13, 2015

    Goodness, amazing it’s still untouched…what a place. A space clinging to it’s past…

    • northumbrianlight · March 13, 2015

      Fabulous isn’t it Sue – the range is probably still serviceable.

      • suej · March 13, 2015

        Very possibly!

  6. kiwiskan · March 13, 2015

    beautiful – so poignant – and the music is perfect

    • northumbrianlight · March 14, 2015

      Many thanks – glad you picked up on the music, I thought it was in perfectly tune with the mood of the place.

  7. littledogslaughed · March 16, 2015

    It is haunting, Robin-what a remarkable find indeed!

    • northumbrianlight · March 16, 2015

      Remarkable and lonely Meg – I would need Hubble for company if I was to spend any time out there 🙂

      • Janet Pritchard · May 4, 2019

        Came across your web page while searching for my ancestors William Mason born 1783 Goswick Farm Northumberland, he married a Eleanor Anderson bap.15/8/1776 Belford Scotch Church unknown date children Mary1808 Wooler, John 1817, Warenford, Barbara, Eleanor 1816, Thomas 1811. John Married a Jane Middlemiss 5/6/1841 and came to Australia. I am so disappointed I thought I found my William Mason’s baptism when I searching on the web, but it appears I am wrong again, as so many of them came from Warden Middlehouse Newbrough, Belford etc.
        Janet Pritchard, N.S.W. South Grafton Australia.

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