About Belsay Horse Trials


Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens are open to the public and managed by English Heritage; while the surrounding Grade 1 listed parkland that will be the venue for the horse trials, is maintained by The Belsay Trust, which has given the event its whole hearted support.

Belsay has a wonderful equestrian heritage. The Middleton family, which has owned the estate for more than 800 years, bred and trained racehorses here in the 18th and 19th centuries and even won the St Leger at Doncaster in 1859 with a horse called Gamester.

The beautiful stables at the Hall are still in evidence as is the old Stallion Park, situated at the bottom of Bantom Hill adjacent to the Castle.

Belsay Horse Trials is organised by Laura and Peter de Wesselow, who live at Belsay and represent the current generation of the Middleton family, alongside a committee of volunteers.

Our thanks must go to all of our very generous sponsors, whose financial support has been so crucial in setting up Belsay Horse Trials. We are also extremely grateful to all the doctors, veterinary surgeons, farriers, judges, starters, timekeepers, jump judges, scorers and the many volunteers who give up their time so generously and without whose help running this event would not be possible.


History of Belsay

Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens are the creation of the Middleton family, over more than seven centuries.


First came the castle, still dominated by its massive 14th-century defensive ‘pele tower’. Built as a refuge at a time of Anglo-Scottish warfare, it was also designed to impress: it still displays rare traces of elaborate medieval wall paintings. In more peaceful times a Jacobean mansion wing was added: here the family lived until Christmas Day 1817, when they moved into Belsay Hall

Belsay Hall is an austerely classic Greek Revival Villa, now displayed without furnishings to reveal the fine craftsmanship of it’s construction.

Begun in 1807, it was designed by Sir Charles Monck (formerly Middleton), a man inspired by Ancient Greece and the buildings he had seen on his honeymoon in Athens. Yet despite its austere façade, it had a comfortable interior, arranged round its amazing central two-storey ‘Pillar Hall.’

The vast gardens which provide a magnificent setting for the castle and Hall are also largely Sir Charles’s work.


Sir Charles’s romantic Quarry Garden, created where stone was cut for his hall, has ravines and sheer rock faces inspired by Sicilian quarries. His grandson Sir Arthur Middleton, a pioneering plantsman, further embellished the Quarry with the exotic species which thrive in its micro-climate, and also added the Winter Garden, Yew Garden, and Magnolia Terrace.


Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens are open to the public.




Today, English Heritage is responsible for looking after the Hall, Castle and Gardens at Belsay which are all open to the public and enjoyed by visitors throughout the year. The Grade 1 heritage parkland, together with other historic buildings around the estate, is looked after by the Belsay Trust.