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Bicentenary weekend draws visitors to Ford

Lady Harriet Joicey, churchwarden Jimmy Mole and the Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Rev Christine Hardman, who took the Sunday morning service at the church of St Micheal and All Angels in Ford.'Picture by Jane Coltman
Lady Harriet Joicey, churchwarden Jimmy Mole and the Bishop of Newcastle, the Rt Rev Christine Hardman, who took the Sunday morning service at the church of St Micheal and All Angels in Ford.'Picture by Jane Coltman

Several hundred visitors flocked to Ford at the weekend where the bicentenary of the birth of Louisa Waterford was being celebrated.

Open days were held at Ford Castle, St Michael & All Angels Church and Lady Waterford Hall.

Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford, lived at Ford Castle from 1860 following the death of her husband, until she passed away in 1891. She is buried in Ford churchyard.

Lady Waterford did much to improve the living conditions of the local people and built the school, now called Lady Waterford Hall.

Her most lasting legacy is the murals decorating the walls of the hall which she painted between 1862 and 1883 and which visitors from home and abroad come to see and admire.

Over the weekend, the castle, normally closed, opened its doors to the public with a range of fascinating exhibitions, tours and talks throughout the two days from Berwick Records Office, Bernicia Archaeology, TillVAS and Gary Parkin metal detectorist.

On Saturday evening, the hall hosted a celebration ceilidh and was open on both days, with guided tours of the hall and to the grave of Louisa Waterford.

The church was filled with beautiful displays of spring flowers and guides were on hand to offer information about the church and its history.

On Sunday, the congregation was delighted to welcome the Bishop of Newcastle who took the morning service.

Lady Joicey, trustee of the Lady Waterford Hall Trust, said: “We felt it was important to commemorate the life and legacy of Louisa Waterford, who made Ford her home and did much to help those who lived here.

“The hall, which she had built as the school, gives a sense of what she was about. We hope that people will continue to visit the hall, enjoy Louisa’s art and learn something of the remarkable person behind it.”

As a further celebration of Louisa Waterford’s life, an art competition is being held involving local schools and an exhibition of the work will be exhibited at The Watchtower in Berwick, by kind permission of Kate Stephenson, from May 26 to June 8.