First Impressions: The Power Of Dramatic Driveways
Let’s talk first impressions. They say you should never judge a book by its cover so it stands to reason that you should never judge a home by its driveway. This is exactly why it is so important for homes to have that elusive “curb appeal”, with imposing facades and grand entrances that invite people to take a closer look. This curb appeal culture is best demonstrated by England’s magnificent stately homes and the one trick they all use is the installation of an impressive driveway. Of all the UK’s magnificent mansions and striking estates, arguably it is the homes and driveways in and around Newcastle which are among the best.
Axwell Hall, Tyne And Wear
Nestled alongside the River Derwent is Axwell Park. At its heart is a Grade II listed mansion that casts the mind back to another time with its handsome Palladian façade and peaceful parkland surroundings. Originally belonging to the Clavering family, Axwell Park is one of the jewels in Tyne and Wear’s architectural crown but it sadly stood empty in a state of deterioration for many years until developers acquired the property in 2006. Despite the obvious signs of neglect on the building there is still a feeling of grandeur as you approach the property along its tree-lined avenue, the kind of driveway that builds your excitement the further down it you go.
Gibside Hall, Tyne And Wear
Amongst the Derwent Valley’s peaks and slopes sits the country estate of Gibside Hall. The former family home of the Bowes-Lyon clan, this Jacobean mansion which is famous for its chapel and grounds has stood empty since the 1920s and now sits a shell on the estate. One look at the sprawling architecture and its rural Northeast backdrop is enough to conjure images of how grand this abode once was. The best way to observe the Hall and get a sense of its former grandeur is on the approach, when you see this historical National Trust treasure get ever closer as you come up its long, teasing driveway.
Hylton Castle, Tyne And Wear
In the sprawling rural landscape of Sunderland stands a ruined stone castle, built on the foundations of the original wooden castle which was constructed on the site shortly after the Norman Conquest. The stone structure appeared in the late 14th century and was later Gothicised. Acquired by several new owners since the 19th century, the castle is now owned by English Heritage and some of its outbuildings (like its chapel) are Grade I listed whilst the park’s grounds are maintained by a community organisation. Despite being abandoned and technically classed as a “ruin” Hylton Castle remains as breath-taking as ever.The stunning winding driveway breaks through the wooded surround andis the perfect vantage point to give an unspoiled view of the property.
Whilst the buildings themselves are the focal points and their surroundings act as frames, it is the driveways that lead the eye and mind to these stately homes that really create the all-important first impression.