Title: Jane Cowen, Stella House, c1919
Reference Number: GL005904
Item Description: Traditionally, a convent stood on the site of this ancient estate. In 1143, the land was granted by the Bishop of Durham to the nuns of Newcastle but briefly taken away by Bishop Pudsey who gave it to William the Moneyer and his son. It later returned to the nuns until the Dissolution. It was then granted to William Barrantyne but in c1600 it was granted to Nicholas Tempest by Queen Elizabeth I. Eventually the estate passed in marriage to William, Lord Widdrington who took part in the 1715 Jacobite rebellion.
In late 17thc, the house was rebuilt with two wings. At the rear was a long wing with mullioned and transomed windows. Inside, were secret rooms reportedly used to hide catholic priests. In the mid 18thc the front windows were altered by adding Venetial windows in arched frames and pedimented winows on the first floor. The Hall was screened at each end with ionic columns and the coved ceiling had rococo plasterwork. The library had a screen of fluted Doric columns with a frieze of triglyphs and paterae above. The drawing room had plasterwork design of swags and garlands, an oval niche framed with palms and a framed landscape in plaster with a shooting star.
Eventually, in 1850, the hall and park were sold to Sir Joseph Cowen, newspaper and coal millionaire. The hall remained in the Cowen family until Jane Cowen’s death in 1946. It was owned briefly by Durham University before being demolished in June 1954.
Here we see Jane Cowen entertaining World War One veterans.
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