Category Archives: News

Japanese ‘Raku’ Pit Firing Day

Les Simpson, Waterside resident has brought his much-valued enthusiasm and wealth of pottery making experience to others at Middleton Hall. Last weekend, he organised a ‘Raku’ pit firing day whereby people who had made pots in our Art Studio had the opportunity to try a new, Japanese derived glazing technique for themselves.

Thanks to Les for his hard work in bringing the day together and for the following account of the experience:

On Friday 4th October, eleven budding potters applying the Raku glazes to their bisque fired works of art. We were joined by some very experienced potters, including Carolyn Corfield, who previously helped at one of our workshops and is currently featured at the ‘East Meets West’ exhibition at the Oriental Museum, Durham.

The glazes, along with the kiln were provided by Carol Newmarch, another very experienced and well-travelled potter. A feeling of apprehension was in the air whilst glazing, not knowing how each glaze might turn out!

On the Saturday, the gas fired kiln was ignited whilst we waited for our pots to emerge – removed from the kiln using long metal tongs. The fired pieces were placed in to a large drum of sawdust to cool the pieces rapidly. Lots of sparks and smoke!

On cooling down, the pots were cleaned in water using a brush or metal wire. During the day, other interested parties came to watch, and in true potter style, we had an informal lunch. For information some potters even like to camp out. Not me! The weather was ideal for the day. Some of the pieces will be on display in the cabinet in the Spa.

Thanks to Carol and of course to Middleton Hall for having such delightful facilities. We are really lucky.

Celebrating BBC Music Day 2019

BBC Music Day 2019 celebrated the power of music. Right up our street! We know exactly how music cheers, soothes, relaxes and connects our residents on a daily basis.

Each of Middleton Grove, Court, Oaks, and Gardens put together their own playlists and had some fun. There was dancing and laughter, memories shared and impromptu sing-a-longs. And of course, the occasion called for some rather special cakes. Musical obviously.


Our popular annual luncheon in the marquee was once again a very popular ‘do’. Possibly our Grand Luncheon wasn’t what one might expect of an event in a retirement village, but our residents have bags of style and energy!

Following a glass of fizz or orange juice on arrival, guests enjoyed a resplendent buffet. The atmosphere was relaxed and sociable; this was a lovely opportunity to meet and re-connect with other people and staff members within the village. And then the waiters broke into song!

The ‘Singing Waiters’ were a surprise to say the least!.The perfect entertainment, they performed favourites such as Sweet Caroline, My Girl, I love you Baby and New York. Guests needed no encouragement and were soon up singing and dancing. It made for a wonderful and memorable event.









A record number – over 250 people turned out for the second year of our village show. It was wonderful to see residents from across Middleton Hall, their families, staff and the neighbouring Middleton St George community all getting involved in all the different categories and enjoying the entertainment.

Entries in over 36 competition classes were on show with a total of 206 entries, showcasing a wide range of skills and activities including fruit and vegetable growing, arts and crafts, cookery and children’s categories.

The much-anticipated Best in Show award went to Ninette Mate for her ‘Best of British’ flower arrangement. A further highlight was co-owner Nicola Patterson’s showstopper cake, inspired by the allotment theme.

There was enthusiastic support for the dog show which included awards for the best veteran, best puppy, waggiest tail and the dog the judges would like to take home.

Visitors also enjoyed entertainment including performances by the Texas Toe Tappers, Richmond Castle Clog dancers, and the Middleton Hall singing group.

A barbecue as well as a number of market stalls, tombola and information stands were also laid on for the day.

Michael Hodgson, Healthy Living Training Manager at Middleton Hall who coordinated the event, said: “The show went really well and it was even busier than last year.

“There was a lovely atmosphere and it was wonderful to see people from across Middleton Hall and our neighbours from Middleton St George and the surrounding villages joining in and enjoying the event. Roll on next year’s show!”


The Village Show – Saturday 7th September 2019      12.00noon – 3.00pm

Last September, we celebrated the birth of the Middleton Hall Village Show, an idea inspired by both residents and co-owners.   We were amazed by the number, the quality and creativity of entries in an array of classes.  Pride was in abundance with entries of magnificent specimens grown in gardens and allotments plus baking delights from the kitchens.  Beautiful arts and craft creations were on display and the sights and sounds of treasured pets delighted all with their agility, obedience and character (mostly… down Fido!!) Stalls offered a range of crafts and gifts to purchase plus visitors were entertained with live performances from the Texas Toe tappers.

Following on from this enjoyable day, we are pleased to say The Middleton Hall Village Show is returning this year, building on last year’s success.   Saturday September 7th is the date for the diaries between 12.00pm and 3.00pm and of course, everyone is welcome.

The PROGRAMME OF EVENTS details the 36 classes, how to enter plus a full timed schedule of events for the afternoon.

This year, the show will once again be in a marquee, but this year located by the Pavilion and bowling green at Middleton Hall. Access is of course wheel chair friendly.

There is something for everyone. We do hope you will join us for what should once again be a fun and enjoyable afternoon.

Look forward to seeing  you on the 7th.


Blooming with Pride

Blooming with pride…… this was the headline in the Northern Echo this week reporting on the first ever open garden event at Middleton Hall as part of the charitable National Garden Scheme. And not even the good ole’ British summer weather with its howling winds and squally showers could dampen spirits.

Over 120 visitors braved the weather to enjoy the extensive gardens and woodlands. Residents, NGS volunteers and co-owners were all on hand to guide visitors. Many commented on the scale of the gardens, enjoying the diversity of the planting. Some favourites were the community allotments, the butterfly beds, the Mediterranean garden and the Woodland Walks.

The Plant stall was popular with people commenting on the range of produce available: eggs from our hens, vegetables from the allotments and greenhouses plus an array of flowering herbaceous plants.

And of course the scrummy teas served in the Pavilion by Pam and our lovely volunteers, Sonia, Sharon, Sarah, Ruby and Molly. The pavilion looked striking, decked out with vintage bunting sewn by residents and the walls were hung with pictures, appropriately with a floral theme taken by our treasured photography group.

Returning from informative tours led by Thom, Head Gardener, visitors enjoyed their refreshments listening to the tunes of the Northumbrian pipers.

Nearly £900 was raised for the NGS charities on the day. Thank you to everyone.

Many visitors commented they hoped the gardens would open again next year. We hope so to.


A First! NGS Open Garden Event


Co-owners and residents are enthusiastically putting the last touches to preparations for another first – an Open Garden event as part of the National Garden Scheme programme.

We love and appreciate our gardens, woodlands, wetlands and ponds. Our whole estate is bursting with interesting corners to explore. For just one day this year, we thought we would invite others to enjoy what we have on our doorstep – and raise funds for an extremely good cause in the process!

Since 1927, the NGS has raised over £50 million for charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, MS Society and Parkinson’s UK, to name but a few.  There are over half a million visits to ‘gardens of character’ in England and Wales. It is a fantastic idea, enjoyed by many.

Please put the date in your diary and take this marvellous opportunity to experience what we treasure year-round. We have full access for people of varied mobility and plenty of seating points where you can sit and take in the surroundings. And we have scones!

Our Main Entrance Drive will be open from 10.00am in the morning until 4.00pm in the afternoon. The entrance fee is £5.00 (all proceeds to NGS nominated charities) with free entrance to under 16’s. Refreshments are £3.50 (tea, coffee or a soft drink with a cream scone) or £1.50 for just a drink.

For more details please phone reception on 01325 332207 or see our entry on the NGS website. We very much hope to see you on the 10th August!



Our first ever arts festival has been hailed as a great success. Created and run mostly by residents the festival featured over 100 displayed artefacts including ceramics, jewellery, photographs, painting and drawings clearly illustrating the depth and breadth of creativity within the Village.

The Arts Festival was not only a magnificent display of talent, but it bought communities together and unveiled some fascinating stories, memories and emotions.

The workshops proved popular too, with some residents taking part in arts and crafts for the first time with everyone benefitting from the therapy of producing something creative. Such is the power of Art.

A highlight for many was the dramatic pit firing of over 50 clay pots, a method dating back over 30,000 years. This event organised by Les Simpson was coupled with a great get together at a festival BBQ. Joan Hardie, Editor of the Northern Potters Association newsletter commented “A most impressive undertaking that has completely changed my view of retirement villages!”

The event also attracted local media attention with BBC Radio Tees broadcasting live from the Hall.

Lovely stories were also uncovered. Ruby Barham displayed a fascinating embroidery. She worked on this in WW2 but was unable to finish it as she ran out of silks and these were no longer available. American soldiers based at her village, Stone-cum-Ebony in Kent, admired her craft work and had new silks sent over from US so she could finish it!

Alongside all the fabulous art exhibits, we were also grateful to Mary Burgoyne who shared a small collection of her fashion sketches and designs. A key London fashion designer in the 60’s, Mary designed outfits for many A-List celebrities. One, a silver knitted mini dress for Anita Harris was on display.

We’re already receiving calls for this to be an annual event, so like the Village show in September, it looks like it will definitely become another regular feature in the village’s calendar.


Veteran’s Badges Presented by Mayor

Thank you to Age UK North Yorkshire & Darlington, who secured veteran’s badges for 5 residents of Middleton Hall.

The deserving gentlemen were delighted to be presented with the badges by Mayor of Darlington, Councillor Nick Wallis. Councillors Doris and Brian Jones, and Managing Director Jeremy Walford also attended the presentation and were pleased to spend time chatting with the recipients and their guests.

Age UK work tirelessly to research on behalf of those men and women born before 1950 and who have served in any of the UK armed forces. It is excellent work that brings priceless results. Congratulations to all those involved.


Middleton Hall’s Arts Festival Workshops

Monday 24th June will see the triumphant opening of the inaugural Middleton Hall Arts Festival Week organised by residents, co-owners and external artists.

The Arts Festival Workshops and Taster Sessions are as follows:

Easter Sunday Lunch - 1st April

These sessions are free but numbers are restricted for these sessions so please contact reception on 01325 332207 to book a place.

The festival will be open to all visitors from Monday 24th to Sunday 30th June. However some aspects of the festival including the photography exhibition will be able to view by Middleton Hall residents, staff and their families until Friday 5th July.