Bernard Porter looks at the Victorian capitalist who made his fortune from dealing in weapons of war and constructed a Northumberland haven with the proceeds.
Cragside, near Rothbury in Northumberland, is a magnificent Victorian pile. For once ‘pile’ seems entirely appropriately. From most aspects Cragside looks a mass, a jumble, rather than a single integrated building. It has a wonderful skyline, a superb setting, magnificent rooms, and some delectable details, but little apparent architectural logic or unity. Even if we did not know we would probably guess that it was the house of a bourgeois, without any particular artistic typical manifestations of the process known as middle-class ‘gentrification’ in the nineteenth century; the home of a self-made manufacturer who, by dint of his wealth and the use he made of it, became a lord.