Washington Old Hall

Washington Old Hall is a manor house located in the Washington[1] area of Tyne and Wear, England, United Kingdom. It lies in the centre of Washington, being surrounded by other villages. The manor was the ancestral home of the family of George Washington, the first President of the United States.[2]

Washington Old Hall
Exterior view of the Washington Old Hall.
General information
Town or cityWashington, Tyne and Wear
Construction started12th Century
Completed17th Century (major renovations)
ClientWilliam de Hertburn


William de Hertburne, an ancestor of George Washington, assumed tenancy of the Wessyngtonlands from the Bishop of Durham for an annual fee of £4. Soon after, he changed his name to William de Wessyngton (later Washington). Although he used the Norman French spelling (based on a Middle English rendition of the original), the estate is of Anglo-Saxon (specifically Anglic) origin, originally being "Hwæssingatūn", meaning "estates of the descendants of Hwæssa" (Hwæssa being rendered Wassa in Modern English). In 1613 the Washington family moved south to Sulgrave Manor in Northamptonshire, and the manor was sold to the Bishop of Durham.

The Hall continued to be used as a residence until the 19th century, when it became tenement flats and gradually fell into disrepair. In 1936 the building was declared unfit for human habitation, and was rescued from demolition by Fred Hill, a local teacher, who created what is now the "Friends of the Old Hall" to press for restoration of the building. Restoration began in 1937.[3] Preservation work stopped during World War II, but was completed in 1955. The building was opened by the American Ambassador.[4] In 1957 the National Trust assumed responsibility for the building.[5]

As a result of these historic ties, Washington, D.C., and City of Sunderland have announced a "friendship agreement," hoping to create cultural and economic ties with one another[6] (see sister cities or town twinning).

The Wessyngton (Washington) Family had not owned Washington Old Hall since the early 15th century when Sir William Mallory married Dionysia Tempest, the last Wessyngton heir at the Hall. Dionysia was daughter of Sir William Tempest and his cousin, Eleanor Wessyngton. In 1613, Sir John Mallory (a descendant of Sir William Mallory and Dionysia Tempest) and Anna Eure, shareholders in the Virginia Company, sold the manor to the Bishop of Durham.



  • Margot Johnson. "Washington Old Hall" in Durham: Historic and University City and surrounding area. Sixth Edition. Turnstone Ventures. 1992. ISBN 094610509X. Page 40.

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