Poets, Painters and Literary Greats

Durham’s landscapes, industry and people have inspired poets, writers and artists throughout the ages. It’s almost 200 years since romantic poet Lord Byron was married here, and as the anniversary draws closer, we take a look at some of the county’s fascinating links with renowned painters, poets and literary greats
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Master painters JMW Turner and John Sell Cotman visited Durham towards the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th Centuries, painting many of the county’s beauty spots after being inspired by the breathtaking landscapes and buildings they visited. From High Force to Raby Castle, and from Durham Cathedral to the meeting of the waters and many more, you can follow in Turner’s footsteps with our new trail.

Master painters JMW Turner and John Sell Cotman visited Durham towards the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th Centuries, painting many of the county’s beauty spots after being inspired by the breathtaking landscapes and buildings they visited. From High Force to Raby Castle, and from Durham Cathedral to the meeting of the waters and many more, you can follow in Turner’s footsteps with our new trail.

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The great Charles Dickens visited Barnard Castle in Teesdale in 1838 when researching his novel, Nicholas Nickleby. A meeting with a headmaster and a visit to a local boy’s grave are said to have inspired the characters Wackford Squeers and Smike. During his visit Dickens also visited William Humphrey’s clock makers shop and enquired about a certain clock. The owner informed the great author that his son had, and soon after a new weekly was published, titled “Master Humphrey’s Clock”.

The great Charles Dickens visited Barnard Castle in Teesdale in 1838 when researching his novel, Nicholas Nickleby. A meeting with a headmaster and a visit to a local boy’s grave are said to have inspired the characters Wackford Squeers and Smike. During his visit Dickens also visited William Humphrey’s clock makers shop and enquired about a certain clock. The owner informed the great author that his son had, and soon after a new weekly was published, titled “Master Humphrey’s Clock”.

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In January 1815 Lord Byron Byron married at Seaham Hall, a Georgian country house in the harbour town of Seaham on the Durham Coast. Nowadays Seaham Hall is a five-star luxury spa hotel just minutes from the sea front.

In January 1815 Lord Byron Byron married at Seaham Hall, a Georgian country house in the harbour town of Seaham on the Durham Coast. Nowadays Seaham Hall is a five-star luxury spa hotel just minutes from the sea front.

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JMW Turner painted many of Durham's beauty spots, including High Force waterfall in the Durham Dales

JMW Turner painted many of Durham's beauty spots, including High Force waterfall in the Durham Dales

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Sir Walter Scott frequently visited his friend JS Morritt at Rokeby Hall, a Palladian-style building in the Durham Dales. Scott was fond of exploring Teesdale, and the hall provides the setting for Rokeby, his epic poem from 1813.

Sir Walter Scott frequently visited his friend JS Morritt at Rokeby Hall, a Palladian-style building in the Durham Dales. Scott was fond of exploring Teesdale, and the hall provides the setting for Rokeby, his epic poem from 1813.

You will find hand painted mural on the wall of the ‘Dickens Bar’ at the Morritt Country House Hotel in the Durham Dales, depicting a Dickensian scene of life in the 17th Century. find out more about the Dales' links with Charles Dickens.

You will find hand painted mural on the wall of the ‘Dickens Bar’ at the Morritt Country House Hotel in the Durham Dales, depicting a Dickensian scene of life in the 17th Century. find out more about the Dales' links with Charles Dickens.

JMW Turner painted many of the beauty spots in the Durham Dales and The Bowes Museum in the Durham Dales is home to three Turners.

JMW Turner painted many of the beauty spots in the Durham Dales and The Bowes Museum in the Durham Dales is home to three Turners.

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