My first visit to Morpeth was as the light failed late on a December afternoon – 2009, presumably – and it began to snow as I walked up the high street to Oldgate – a vivid image still in my mind, but not so good in a photograph. I’m not sure when these photoss come from, as I’ve been back quite a few times since.
Morpeth was famously the home Collingwood longed for when he was away – outside the noise and bustle of Newcastle, where he could dig his garden and walk by the river and read by the fire.
The house now belongs to the local Catholic church, who do open it to visitors occasionally.
The house is on a road running down to the river, where there’s now a solid bridge – which isn’t nearly as old as it looks. In Collingwood’s day I think it would still have been a ford, before even the first of several footbridges, but the street names suggest that it was the main route to the west at one time – this is Oldgate, while the road now skirting the north of the river is Newgate.
Collingwood’s garden is mostly under the grounds of the church now – which does at least mean that there’s some kind of access to where he would have had his ‘quarterdeck walk’ along the riverbank.
From the opposite bank you can see the remains of the poop deck summerhouse – in the centre, with the gardens running off to the right.
And here’s the view over the river from the poop deck itself – still a peaceful view. The stepping stones are traditional, although this set are modern!