Washington Old HallAlexander Iles
Washington Old Hall is not the first thing you’ll think of when you hear the word Washington; likely, you’ll think of the Capital of the United States, the state or the famous man, George Washington. Washington in the North East today is more famous for the Nissan car plant, but in the centre of Washington you can still see an area that is reminiscent of an English country village. Its church’s foundation dates back to The Dark Ages and nearby is Washington Old Hall; the ancestral home of George Washington himself. The Washington’s were a part of the life of County Durham for centuries with a member of the family, John Washington, even having a memorial at Durham Cathedral having been prior at the cathedral from 1416-1446. The family moved into Washington Hall around the 12th century, at this point they changed their name from Hartburn to Washington to reflect the name of the property that they now resided within. This can be a surprise for some Americans, as there would be no Washington’s without Washington Old Hall. Even the American flag can be traced back to the Washington’s coat of arms with the stars and stripes coming from their family crest. Over time, the family moved to the New World for better opportunities and led George Washington to become the leader of the revolutionary cause.
The hall itself was purchased by Bishop William James in 1613 and inherited by his grandson, William, who renovated much of the house to the interior you see today. It also surprises people to find that, over the centuries, the building’s uses changed and became a residence for nine separate families from the late 1800’s through to 1933. In fact, if you visit Washington Old Hall (which is a National Trust venue) you can see ‘No.5 Old Hall’, which was the residence of the Bone family, with members of this family still being born there until the 20th century. A visit to Washington Old Hall will show you the home from where one of the world’s most influential families voyaged out to the New World and changed history forever.