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Tyne and Wear HER(3094): Penshaw, Earl of Durham's Monument (Penshaw Monument) - Details

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Penshaw, Earl of Durham's Monument (Penshaw Monument)




Commemorative Monument

Early Modern



In 1840, shortly after the death of John George Lambton, first Earl of Durham (1792-1840), (and Governor-General of Canada and Grand Master of the Order of Freemasons), a committee was established to build a monument paid for by public subscription (£6000), in his memory. Penshaw Hill was selected for the site of the monument, and the design of a Grecian temple (contemporary accounts say it was based on the Temple of Theseus at Athens) by John and Benjamin Green of Newcastle, was adopted. Built by Thomas Pratt of Sunderland. The dimensions of the structure are 100ft (30.5m) length, 53ft (16.2m) width and 70ft (21.3m) height. 4 x 7 fluted Doric columns. The foundation stone for the monument was laid 28th August 1844 by the Earl of Zetland, watched by over 10,000 spectators. The monument has been the property of the National Trust since 1939. Original plans were to roof over the pediment to adorn the monument with an equestrian statue - this was never done of course. Pevsner - subscribed for and dedicated by the inhabitants of the county to John George Lambton, first Earl of Durham, the great liberal politician and first Governor of Canada, died 1840. Erected in 1844. John and Benjamin Green based the design on the Theseum at Athens. Half its size, Greek Doric (but the columns are unfluted with a spiral staircase in one), of seven by four columns with entablatures and pediments but no roof or walls. The columns stand on a stylobate but there are no steps. From a distance, especially the east, the monument looms as an apparition of the Acropolis under hyperborean skies. Walkway around the parapet - closed in 1926 after a fatal fall. At the base of the foundation stone there is a National Trust plaque which replaces an eroded verse that was carved into the monument. The monument and woodland is owned by the National Trust. The hill may be the site of an Iron Age hillfort (HER 16664) although no definate dating evidence exists.




<< HER 3094 >> 1st edition Ordnance Survey Map, c.1855, 6 inch scale, Durham, 13 Tyne and Wear County Council, 1985, Penshaw Monument and the River Wear Leaflet; Department of National Heritage, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, 4/47; Paul Usherwood, Jeremy Beach and Catherine Morris, 2000, Public Sculpture of North East England, p 166-7; Archaeo-Environment Ltd, 2010, Historic Environment Survey for National Trust Properties, Tyne and Wear - Penshaw Monument; The Archaeological Practice Ltd., 2014, Penshaw: Not just a monument - Historic Village Atlas; Archaeological Research Services Ltd. 2015, Penshaw Monument, Chester Road, Penshaw, Sunderland - Watching Brief; Paul Perry and Derek Dodds, 2013, Penshaw - Radical Jack's Folly in Curiosities of County Durham,; [accessed 18th Feb 2016]

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