January 1, 1980
Whitburn Hall, built in the 16th century was built for Richard Kitching, who sold it to Rev. Leonard Pilkington, rector of Whitburn Church in 1672.
The hall passed to Anna Carr in 1672.
Sir Hedworth Williamson purchased the estate in 1719. It remained the family home of the aristocratic Williamsons for over 200 years. During that time the building was added to / improved several times.
Sir Hedworth Williamson (5th Baronet) inherited. He and his wife divided their time between Whitburn Hall and her home Millam Castle.
He was succeeded by his son, Sir Hedworth Williamson (6th Baronet) , race horse owner (He won the Derby twice with Ditto 1830, Pan 1808, both horses trained on Whitburn sands.)
Sir Hedworth Williamson 1797-1861 (7th Baronet from 1810)
High Sheriff 1840-1861
Mayor of Sunderland 1841
Grand Master of Province of Durham until 1845
MP for Sunderland 1847 and again 1852.
Sir Hedworth took a keen interest in village affairs, improving housing and education, providing funds to build the village school. Lady Williamson also concerned herself with the heath and well being of the villagers. When Sir Hedworth's son came of age in 1851, the whole village joined in the celebrations; a sheep was roasted on the village green.
Sir Hedworth Williamson 1872-1900 (8th Baronet from 1810)
High Sheriff 1861-1880
MP for Sunderland 1864-74
Married his cousin Elizabeth Jane Liddell ( D. of 1st Earl of Ravensworth and second cousin of Alice Liddell, Lewis Carrol's "Alice in Wonderland". Wedding celebrations included a tea party at Whitburn Hall for all the over 60s. He was one of the school managers, and he and his family took a personal interest in the school, and the school log book gives an account of the treat he arranged for the schoolchildren on the occasion of his daughter's wedding. All children in both schools were taken to the cricket field where they provided a good tea. Balloons were sent up, the weather gloriously fine a very happy day was spent.
1880. The Duke of Edinburgh stayed the night while on a tour of inspection of coastguards, and Edward VII when Prince of Wales visited on more than one occasion.
There is a story that Whitburn Hall was the birthplace of Lawn Tennis. Guests at the Hall hoping to play tennis were disappointed to find that there was no indoor tennis court. Sir Hedworth Williamson had an improvised tennis court laid out for them on the smooth lawns. If the story is true- Lawn tennis was invented on what is now Whitburn cricket ground.
In 1898 Sir Hedworth paid for a new classroom to be built onto the infants school. He and Mrs Barnes together funded the building of the Barnes Institute, the centre of village life for the whole community for many years. Like his father, this Sir Hedworth took an interest in the village; people knew him and his family.
Sir Hedworth 78th Baronet played cricket, and it was he who gave permission in 1862 for part of his garden to be used as a cricket field. He was for 30 years foreman of the grand jury of Durham Assizes and entertained the judges at Whitburn Hall during summer assizes. A Sunday cricket match between the circuit and Whitburn club was a regular event.
1900. Sir Hedworth died and the great days of Whitburn Hall were over. His successor was unmarried, died 1942. Succeeded by nephew unmarried 1946. Sir Nicholas may still be alive. He lived near Reading, never came to the hall.
The Hall was occupied by the army during the war. In 1978 the house was severely damaged by fire and it was demolished in 1980.more