Bessie Surtees House (c) Michael Preston
Bessie Surtees House

A pair of historic 16th and 17th-century timber-framed buildings which are now home to English Heritage's regional offices. The buildings represent excellent examples of half-timbered merchant's houses so typical of the Jacobean period. The interiors of Bessie Surtees's house feature wonderful plaster ceilings and oak panelling, with period furniture on display.

Bessie Surtees

Bessie Surtees House is famous for one particular event. The eponymous young lady was the daughter of Aubone Surtees, a prominent Newcastle banker. She wanted to marry a young man named John Scott, but her family objected to the match. On 18 November 1772, Bessie eloped with Scott, escaping through a window of the house that now bears her name.

The young couple escaped to Scotland, where they were married. Scott became a lawyer and eventually rose to become Chancellor of England. Happily, the Surtees family was reconciled with Bessie, and actually settled money on her (a bit late for the wedding ceremony, but still ...). It is interesting to view the house today and guess which window it was that Bessie escaped through to join her beloved.