Book tells se­cret story of historic build­ing


Sunday Sun - - News - By Dar­ren Kelso dar­ren.kelso@reach­ @Kel­soDar­ren

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

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