ONE of Richmond’s most curious homes has just gone on the market for £500,000.

It is a converted ballroom behind Swale House at the foot of the Market Place.

The ballroom was built by Owen Pease, of Darlington’s famous family – his father was mayor of Darlington in 1875, and his elder brother was mayor and MP during the 1920s.

The Northern Echo: Cleveland Car Company.

The Cleveland Car Company on the corner of Darlington's Grange Road and Victoria Road. Now the roundabout above Sainsbury's is on its spot, although the entrance to the billiard hall on the extreme right is still standing

Owen founded the Cleveland Car Company, which was one of the first motor dealers in the area which had a half-timbered showroom in Grange Road in Darlington.

The 18th Century Swale House had been the home of James Tate, the headmaster of Richmond Grammar School, and pupils boarded with him, including in 1844 young Charles Dodgson from Croft, who would become Lewis Carroll.

The Northern Echo: Swale House, recently council offices, but Lord Gainford's childhood home

Owen Pease bought Swale House (above) intending it to be his family home, adding the ballroom to it in 1908. The ballroom was warmed by a large fireplace which featured his coat of arms on the chimneybreast – as Quakers, the Peases were pacifists, and so the arms feature a dove of peace holding a peapod of peace in its beak. This emblem can be seen on many of their buildings, and fountains, in Darlington.

The Northern Echo: The Ballroom, Love Property

The fireplace in the ballroom has the Pease's coat of arms on it. Picture: Love Property

However, Owen died aged just 33 in 1912, and Swale House and its ballroom were bought by his cousin, Joseph, the great-grandson of the Pease who stands on the statue in the middle of Darlington.

When he married, Joseph, brought his new wife, Veronica, to Swale House. In her memoirs written in the early 1970s, she recalled: “This was a rather splendid affair, with two huge baronial fireplaces which smoked incorrigibly. It was difficult to heat but with its beautifully spring floor, was perfect for dances and parties.”

In the Roaring Twenties, Veronica and Joseph made Swale House the centre of the Richmond social scene, with hunt and charity balls being held regularly in the ballroom.

Their two eldest sons, Joseph, born in 1921, and George, born in 1926, had Swale House as their childhood home.

The Northern Echo: George Pease as a baby with his parents, Veronica and Joseph, and older brother, Joseph to whom the Radio 4 bongs are dedicated, on steps in the grounds of Swale House, Richmond, in 1927

Veronica and Joseph Pease with baby George and his older brother, Joseph, on steps in the grounds of Swale House, Richmond, in 1927

George, who followed his brother and became the 4th Lord Gainford, only died last month, and remembered the parties of his childhood.

“The principal feature of the house was (to me) a very large ballroom, extending into the garden, where parties were held, including our birthday parties,” he wrote in his memoirs. “On one of these I had been given a blue pedal car, which was commandeered by my guests, much to my chagrin, who simply drove it around, paying no attention to my pleas for a chance to have a go myself.

“My father gave Joseph a working O gauge model steam engine of The Flying Scotsman, then the most famous of the London North Eastern Railway’s locomotives. The model was fired by methylated spirit and run without its track on the ballroom floor until my mother banned it for the damage done to the wood blocks by its wheel flanges and spilt – and sometimes burning – meths!”



The Peases lived in Swale House until the economic recession of the 1930s bit, and they sold up and bought the remote Taynish peninsula on the west coast of Scotland.

The Northern Echo: The Ballroom, Love Property

The windows at the end of the ballroom overlooking a terrace outside. The Peases held fireworks parties, with Joseph Pease setting off the pyrotechnics on the terrace and the guests inside safely watching from the windows. Picture: Love Property

After the Second World War, Swale House became the headquarters of Richmond council, with the ballroom pressed into service as the council chamber. When the council moved in the 1970s, the ballroom was sold off and from a very disused state is has been converted into an extremely intriguing one-bedroomed home, with a fabulous Pease fireplace, in a lovely location.

It is on the market with Love Property of Catterick Garrison.

The Northern Echo: The Ballroom, Love Property

The illuminated ballroom was a council chamber and a Peases place of play