Narrowgate at the time of a royal visit  in 1908, when a narrow gate was erected, possibly near the site of an original.

Number 1 Bailiffgate is a definite potential candidate for the BBC programme “A House through Time”, as it has a long and fascinating list of occupants. These include several notable Alnwick Victorians whose portraits are already on this website- James Russell, Jane Russell, Elizabeth Stamp and F.R.Wilson and his wife Sarah.  The history of this house goes back much further, however. The earliest record unearthed to date is 1728, but given its prominent position it may be assumed that there has been a building on the site for well over 300 years. In much more recent times-see below- the house was also the birthplace of two characters known throughout the UK and far beyond.

A casual observer might assume that “Bailiffgate” begins at the broad expanse of tarmac overlooked by the main entrance to Alnwick Castle. In fact Number 1 Bailiffgate is located a small distance inside the narrow stretch of road that links the town centre to Bailiffgate, the whole length of which is commonly considered as “Narrowgate” ,which may simply mean narrow street. Another suggestion, however is that there was an original “narrow gate” into the town set slightly back from the end of the street, between what is now No 1 Bailiffgate and what was until recently the Oddfellows Pub. If this were so, then it would explain why Number 1 is located outside the rest of Bailiffgate, but beyond the old narrow gate.

The current owners of No 1 Bailiffgate, Carl and Michelle Watson who took over from Roger and Juliet Wakefield have kindly provided for us the chart below of all the known previous owners of this extremely historic property. This chart is based on their own research (but please share with us any suggested additions/corrections) of all the known previous owners of this extremely historic Grade II* property –click here for the Historic England listing.

Pre-Sept 1728 TBC Being researched!
Sept 1728 George SWINHOE



John SWINHOE rented the property out several times including to a relative, Thomas SWINHOE (Oct 1736). George SWINHOE was a businessman from the Sunderland area.
Dec 1741 John SWINHOE



The property transferred to Ralph ARCHIBALD (via trusts) and then following Ralph’s death the property ultimately passed to his only surviving child, his daughter, Elizabeth BURN (née ARCHIBALD) the widow of physician Dr. John BURN.
Dec 1796 (via will) Elizabeth BURN (née ARCHIBALD)


David HUME & Jane HUME (née BURN)

Following Elizabeth’s death in 1796, the property subsequently passed to her only surviving child, her daughter, Jane HUME (née BURN) the wife of a David HUME of Edinburgh.
May 1798 David HUME & Jane HUME (née BURN)



[Needs further research as original documentation unclear of property transfer(s) at this link to Richard CRAWFORD]
April 1812 (via will & trust) Richard CRAWFORD


Joseph HARDY & William MORRISON

Richard CRAWFORD stipulated in his will that the property be left to named trustees. The surviving trustees (Joseph HARDY and William MORRISON; and with the other trustee, Matthew KELL, having pre-deceased Richard), following Richard’s death in April 1812 took ownership of the property.
June 1827 Joseph HARDY & William MORRISON



Joseph HARDY and William MORRISON then sold to James RUSSELL, an Alnwick solicitor, in 1827.
Feb 1860 James RUSSELL


Barbara RUSSELL and Jane RUSSELL

James Russell was indebted to his sisters Barbara and Jane Russell and so sold the property to them to pay off part of those debts. Barbara died leaving her share to Jane. When James died intestate in 1865 probate was granted to both Jane and Elizabeth STAMP Jane RUSSELL & Elizabeth STAMP (née RUSSELL) the widow of Edward STAMP, an Alnwick banker and the other sister of James.
April 1862 & March 1872 (via wills & trusts) Jane RUSSELL


Elizabeth STAMP (née RUSSELL)

in trust to

John TATE; William DICKSON and Patrick Sharp DICKSON; and William DICKSON and George Pringle HUGHES

Jane died in Feb 1870 establishing a trust for Elizabeth for her lifetime to the proceeds of the property and left ownership of the property to Jane’s friends as trustees: John TATE; William DICKSON and Patrick Sharp DICKSON. Elizabeth STAMP’s interests in trust were held by William DICKSON and George Pringle HUGHES.
April 1874 John TATE; William DICKSON and Patrick Sharp DICKSON; and William DICKSON and George Pringle HUGHES


Frederick Richard WILSON


In April 1874, Fredrick Richard WILSON (who was living at the property) bought it at auction from a group of beneficiaries of Mrs. Elizabeth STAMP fo £550 (see note). On FR WILSON’s death in May 1894 the property passed to his wife Sarah WILSON. On Sarah’s death in March 1915 the interest in the property was then split between her 6 children with agreements between them resulting in February 1918 in a son and daughter of FR WILSON sharing joint ownership: Marmaduke Temple WILSON and Rosamund WILSON. Rosamund pre-deceased Marmaduke but they both left their interests in the property to a Geoffrey Edward LLOYD-WILSON who was the owner of the property following Marmaduke’s ultimate death (Oct 1942).


In the meantime, in Dec 1937 Marmaduke sold land at the west end of the garden to Walter WILSON.

Nov 1957 Geoffrey Edward LLOYD-WILSON


Donald Gareth ADAMSON & Jean ADAMSON

Geoffrey sold the property to the authors and illustrators of the “Topsy & Tim” children’s books, Gareth and Jean Adamson, in November 1957. The Adamson’s wrote the books whilst living at the property.
Aug 1967 Donald Gareth ADAMSON & Jean ADAMSON


Major William Francis TUTHILL, T.D. & Laura TUTHILL

In 1967 the Adamson’s moved to Cambridgeshire and sold to the Tuthill family.
Aug 1993 Major William Francis TUTHILL, T.D. & Laura TUTHILL


Roger William WAKEFIELD & Juliet Raye WAKEFIELD

Following Major TUTHILL’s death, his wife, Laura TUTHILL, owned the house and having been taken into a residential care home refused to sell the house in the hope of one day being able to return. As a result, the property became derelict and fell into severe disrepair (see album of Will Wakefield showing the state of the property when he purchased it in 1993).


During the Tuthill’s ownership (in June 1969), they re-purchased the west end of the garden that had been sold to Walter WILSON in 1937, restoring the property to its original footprint.

June 2021 Roger William WAKEFIELD & Juliet Raye WAKEFIELD


Carl & Michelle WATSON

Following years of work and meticulous restoration, the Wakefield’s moved to East Sussex in 2021 to be closer to their adult children and the property was purchased by Carl and Michelle.


Compiled: August 2021


    See Above under 1957

In an interview with The Guardian, Jean Adamson said that she and her future husband had been trained as book illustrators at Goldsmiths College. They decided to get married and quit their jobs in order to write and illustrate their own children’s books. Their approach was shaped by a visit to a children’s bookshop in Newcastle where they realised that there were few books depicting actual contemporary children. She explained that the books were also influenced by the post-war mood:

At that time, not so terribly long after the end of the war, England was just waking up, bright colours were coming in, there was a lovely optimistic feeling in the air. So I said “Why don’t we do books with real live little children in, with the little adventures and so on that they have in the house?
 Source Wikipedia