I thought about calling this 'The Wages of War', given that Cragside was built by William Armstrong, owner of a large munitions factory that shaped the west end of Newcastle for decades.
He was a lawyer with an engineering mind and Cragside was the first house in the world lit by hydro-electricity.
Funny that 'wage' means both the payment for services and the action of engaging in...
Armstrong engaged in supplying the tools of war and it paid exceedingly well.
Not only is there a grand house to tour, the gardens - stuffed with rhododendrons and conifers - attract thousands of visitors.
A couple of years ago Vivien and I visited another WI and the speaker was a volunteer at Cragside.
My notes said 'rhods best 1st wk Jun'; I put this on my calendar and forgot about it.
When Jane and Chris (Bill's sister and brother-in-law) were here last week we meant to visit Seaton Delaval Hall, but it wasn't open when they were here, so we went to Cragside instead.
I'd been before, but forgotten how impressive it was. The tour seems to emphasize the engineering, hydro-electric features of the house and downplay the source of this man's money.
One of the many volunteers said he looked upon his role as one of 'defense and deterrent'.
I still wonder if his gardens are large enough to bury all the bodies resulting from his business.
Fortunately that wasn't my leading thought while wandering around his house. I was just thinking of all the beautiful objects I saw.
Of course the house itself and the gardens are also stunning. Somehow this provokes me to obsessive photo snapping, as though if I take enough pictures I might somehow own some of this beauty.