LUNCH IN DECEMBER
The original Georgian house, designed by John Dobson – responsible for many of Newcastle’s handsome streets – was bought in 1871 by Captain Andrew Noble, a partner in Lord Armstrong’s Tyneside-based shipbuilding and armaments business.
As the business grew, and Armstrong took a back seat, Noble needed a grander house for business entertaining. He commissioned leading Arts and Crafts architect Norman Shaw, and local architect Frank Rich, to double the size of the house adding a west wing, billiard room, Gothic porch, Great Hall and a fleet of bedrooms, all in typically grand and eclectic Arts and Crafts style. The panelling, plasterwork, stone carvings, exuberant chimneys and stained glass date from this time.
Knighted in 1902, Sir Andrew Noble moved in high society. Chinese minsters and Japanese princes, admirals and ambassadors, Rudyard Kipling and Arthur Conan Doyle have all stayed or dined here. After Sir Andrew’s widow died, in 1929, the house was variously used as a college, Civil Defence establishment (tunnels still exist under the house), seminary and, most recently, as a residential school. It took 18 months to convert the empty building, Grade ll-listed, to a hotel which opened in 2005 becoming Newcastle’s first, independently owned, boutique hotel.