Streatlam Castle shown within County Durham
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Streatlam Castle was a Baroque stately home located near the town of Barnard Castle in County Durham, England. Owned by the Bowes-Lyon family, Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne, the house was one of the family's three principal seats, alongside Glamis Castle in Forfarshire, Scotland and Gibside, near Gateshead. Streatlam incorporated some 1,190 acres (4.8 km2) of land, along with an estate consisting of some twenty farms. The last occupant was Lord Glamis, who later became the 15th Earl, although the estate was owned by his father, the 14th Earl, at the time.
The House came to the Bowes family in the mid-Eighteenth century. For much of the nineteenth century, it was owned by John Bowes, the eldest son of the 10th Earl of Strathmore who was illegitimate under English law as his parents married after he was born (and under Scottish law as they had no Scottish domicile), but was able to inherit a life interest in the family's English wealth and properties. During his tenancy, Streatlam was described as consisting of twenty-four bedrooms, two oak drawing-rooms, the yellow drawing room, the great dining room, the billiard-room, the study and the gentlemen's room.
Following his death without issue, the estate was reunited with the Earldom in 1885. Unlike the fate of other properties which belonged to the Bowes-Lyon family, such as Gibside (which lay within a major coalfield near Gateshead and so was considered spoilt by pollution from the surrounding coal mines), Streatlam sat amidst the beautiful countryside of the Durham Dales.
Decline and demolition
The last occupier was Lord Glamis, heir to the Earldom, who had been living there since at least 1915. The Earl of Strathmore was determined to sell off the house and the land, however, and the bulk of the estate was sold to private tenants, with the remainder fetching £100,000 at auction.
Some see it as little surprise that the Earl of Strathmore chose Glamis Castle over Streatlam, the house being considered architecturally "awkward and unsatisfactory" (as was claimed in Country Life Magazine in 1915). Also, as the aristocratic titles of the last owner and occupant would suggest, Streatlam was less important in historical terms. Another possible reason is that, for much of the nineteenth century, the Scottish and English estates had been split, with Streatlam and Gibside owned by John Bowes and his wife, which meant that that Scottish branch of the Bowes-Lyon family, namely the Earls of Strathmore, had not been in ownership or residence at Streatlam for from 1820 to 1885, thereby becoming more focused on their Scottish estates. The English estates only reverted to the Earl and his descendants when John Bowes died without issue, leaving his fortune to his first cousin once removed, the 13th Earl, in 1885.
Although there was no pressing financial need to sell at the time, with the family still earning a substantial income from the estate's coal mining holdings, in the end the house was simply considered superfluous. The Earl also owned Wemmergill in County Durham, St Paul's Walden Bury in Hertfordshire and the Gibside estate in Gateshead. It was also a time when many aristocratic families were seeking to cut back on ostentatious displays of wealth following the destruction of the nobility in the Russian Revolution, plus there was a shortage of domestic servants following the First World War.
Lady Strathmore, though ill at the time, hurried down to Streatlam to rescue as many items as possible, many of which were taken to Glamis Castle. The armorial ceiling, installed at Streatlam by John Bowes, were moved to the Bowes Museum, which he had established.
- Thackeray, William Makepeace (July 1841). "Notes on the North What-d’ye-Callem Election". Fraser’s Magazine (London) 24 (134): 357.