Book tells secret story of historic building
OWNER LOOKED BACK AT MANOR HOUSE’S PAST
Reporter THE secrets of an historic 18th-century building in County Durham will be revealed thanks to a new book.
Hidden in Full View tells the story of the Grade II* listed Manor House in Sedgefield. Built in 1707, it has been a prominent feature in the centre of the town for over 300 years but despite its size and position, few residents have been aware of what lies behind its classic Queen Anne façade.
However, since the building changed ownership in 2014, it has been developed into a thriving business and events hub and now plays a full role in community life.
Owner Ean Parsons, a keen history buff, started researching the history of the Manor House and gradually unearthed a wealth of material that ended up forming the basis for Hidden in Full View.
The book has been written and published by Ean, who owns the building with his wife Vivienne, and boasts artwork and design by locals Kevan Stevens and Neil Edmundson. It has been a labour of love for Ean, who took on researching the history of the building in 2016 having bought it two years earlier.
From rural mansion house, to council offices and magistrate’s court, the Manor House has been put to many uses during its 300 years, all of which are recorded in detail in the book. More than that though, it explores the reason the building came to exist in the first place. It tells the story of the people who have lived and worked in the Manor House, starting with Judge Robert Wright, the man who had it built.
The narrative takes readers from County Durham to as far afield as the Carolinas in the USA, but it always returns to Sedgefield.
As well as the written history of the Manor House, ‘Hidden in Full View’ is packed with illustrations, photographs and data from original research and archives to complete the tale.
Local artist and copy-setter Kevan Stevens helped with the layout and publishing while Sedgefield designer Neil Edmundson interpreted Ean’s vision into an evocative cover that offers an insight into the content of the book.
“Despite its prominent position in the centre of Sedgefield, the Manor House had faded into anonymity,” Ean said. “Those who had been in Sedgefield long enough, remembered it as a magistrate’s court – some had even spent time in the cells!
“Those who were a bit older were aware that it had housed council offices, but no one seemed to know anything else. I felt honoured to own such an outstanding building, but wanted to find out about more than its bricks and mortar.
“It has been an amazing journey and it quickly evolved from one of mild curiosity to one driven by fascination.
“As I delved further, it became very clear that the full story – insofar as I could establish it – needed to be told. I am grateful to the local people who contributed their anecdotes of their time in the Manor House which are included in the book, and to Kevan and Neil who helped me bring the book to life.”
Hidden in Full View is available to buy now priced £12.99. Members of the public are invited to a free launch event in the Manor House, from 6.309pm on Thursday, November r 15.
During the event, Ean will ll give guests a full tour of the building (relating it to the narrative of ‘Hidden in Full View), which retains many original features that are l listed d in their h own right, h plus l l later additions such as graffiti scratched on the cell doors in the basement.
From left, Ean Parsons, Neil Edmundson and Kevan Stevens in front of the Manor House. Inset, Hidden in Full View