The Penshaw monument

On a hilltop in County Durham sits the Penshawi monument, a nineteenth-century folly built to commemorate the late Earl of Durham. It’s always been on my bucket list, but it’s a bit of a pain to get to via public transport, and i’d never found the time — last week, though, i found myself with some time off and decided to make the trip. I’ll let the pictures do the talking from here…

A panoramic view of a sprawling country park, with some noticeable barriers put up for a race. In the distance, upon a hill, lies a building rather resembling an old Greek temple.
A view of the monument from the nearby country park. As you can see, there was a motorbike race on at the time, which somewhat dampened the otherwise-peaceful atmosphere. Tut tut.
On the top, the same building from before, now pictured from a rather closer distance, on a punishing set of stairs. Its façade is black with soot. On the bottom, a pristine ancient Greek temple, surrounded by a row of hedges.
The monument was based on Athens’ temple to Hephæstos, though in a rather scaled-down format (see the lack of any kind of roof).
The sun shines through the monument's columns.
We weren’t allowed inside the naos, as they were busy setting it up for that night’s Lumiere festival.ii (They did let some of the people walking their bulldogs up — perhaps because they were too scared?)
The country park also has this neat little henge, with viewfinders pointing towards some well-known County Durham sites — that little black square you can make out is Durham Cathedral.

Information for visitors

  • Address:
    Chester Rd, Penshaw, Houghton le Spring DH4 7NJ
    .
  • Accessibility: Getting up to the monument requires a steep hike up a hill; if you have impaired mobility, you may want to think twice before going.
  • Getting there: The hill is served by the A183 road and the 2, 2A, and 78 buses. The nearest train station is Chester-le-Street, five miles away.
  • The National Trust sometimes offers tours of the top of the monument, though those are currently suspended.

1 thought on “The Penshaw monument

  1. Pingback: My favourite things of 2021 | The Garden

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