IT was great to see Rockliffe Hall hosting the England football team and now Scotland have moved in. Rockliffe, of course, was built by the great Victorian Gothic architect Alfred Waterhouse in the 1860s for the Darlington banker, Alfred Backhouse.

There was a great picture this week on Twitter showing England stars Harry Kane and Declan Rice watching a cricket match played on the Rockliffe Park ground in front of the hotel.

The ground was created in 1918 by Lord Southampton, the owner of the hall who had such a big staff that they could select a cricket team to play against local villages.

His lordship undoubtedly cared about the welfare of his workers, but his real motivation for allowing a cricket ground to be placed in such a visible place may not have been entirely altruistic.

His son and heir, Charles, was a bit of a tearaway and disliked his father's strict ways. To escape, he would shimmy down the drainpipes from his prison-bedroom and sneak off for illicit liaisons with actresses appearing at Darlington Hippodrome.

So Lord Southampton built the cricket pitch in the hope that Charles would exhaust his youthful energies in bowling maiden overs rather than in bowling over maidens from the Hip.

It didn't work, because on occasions Charles was found sleeping rough amid the warmth of Neasham's brick kilns, and in 1964, he disinherited his title and went to Malta, where he died in 1989.

CROSSING the river into Croft-on-Tees which we visited a couple of weeks ago to look at the lost Halnaby Hall. It was built by Sir Mark Milbanke of Newcastle in 1661, and was where Lord Byron had his infamously unhappy honeymoon in 1816.

"The local pronunciation always left the 'l' in Halnaby silent so it was "Harnaby"," says Ian Hillary. "That might be dying out now, just as Neasham has changed. Twenty five years ago, the old biddies on the bus used to say "Neesam" for the village."

The last resident of Halnaby was Lady Catherine James Crawford Wilson-Todd who died in 1948. Audrey Chapman, of Dalton, very kindly sends us the sale catalogue from April 1949 when, over four days, all of Lady Catherine's possessions were sold off.

Audrey's parents, who lived at North Walmire Farm, were present in hope of buying a souvenir, and wrote down the price of the items as the hammer fell.

And so we know that in bedroom number four, known as "Lord Byron's room", the 5ft 6in mahogany poster bed with canopy top, silk damask draperies and a spring mattress with hair and wool overlay, sold for £25. Perhaps it was the one that the romantic poet slept in after scandal had forced him to marry Annabel Milbanke.

The most expensive lot in the sale was No 1,523, a 1938 Lanchester 14 four-seater saloon motor car, Reg No ETV 68, which sold for £425 – an amazing price as it had probably cost £50 less when it was new ten years earlier.

Sadly, no one could found to take on the hall itself and it was demolished in 1952. A ceiling from it may have been salvaged and is now in Wycliffe Hall, near Barnard Castle. Can this be true?