Swansfield House

Swann’s Field, near Clayport Bank, was an ancient field, part of the possessions of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem. The old house, built in the late 17C or early 18C, is mentioned in 1769 as being held by Richard Grieve, who sold it to Henry Collingwood Selby Esq., the Duke’s steward.

Selby carried out extensive alterations to the house from 1823 onwards, the work being done by Robert Hall, mason of Alnwick, to the designs of John Dobson, the Newcastle architect.

Swansfield House – from an engraving by James Kerr

The house sat within extensive parkland which today is occupied by the Alnwick Castle Golf Club. At the park’s highest point is a prehistoric settlement, which gives the area its name of Camphill. It is roughly circular and measures 40m by 30m, though the ramparts are much eroded. Although no artifacts have been found, sites like this usually belong to the Iron Age.

Within the settlement’s ramparts is the Swansfield Peace Column. Erected by Henry Selby, it commemorates what was thought to be the end of the Napoleonic Wars, following the 1814 Treaty of Paris.

The column was designed in accordance with ‘Vetruvius’ plan’, referring to the Roman architect who proposed certain proportions as being aesthetically ideal.

It was originally intended to have been topped by a statue of Peace and Victory, made from Coade Stone.

The peace was, however, short-lived, with Napoleon re-establishing his rule of France, before being finally defeated at Waterloo. The idea of topping the column with the Peace and Victory figure was abandoned, with the finishing feature instead being the simple ball we see today.

The Coade Stone ‘Peace and Victory’ figure was erected on the lawn of the old Swansfield House and can be seen on the engraving above. There is no trace of it today.

In 1975, following a serious fire, the house was demolished and replaced by the house we see today.