On high ground between the Tyne Valley and the Roman Wall, there is a wild empty landscape populated almost entirely by sheep. North of Newbrough and Settlingstones sits The Middle House, abandoned and alone beneath a vast Northumbrian sky.
It is visible long before you arrive; the rough track climbs out of Stonecroft and gradually peters out as it threads west from Park Dam and its solitary swans:
Information on the Middle House is sparse online but, this extract from an ancestry site peoples this abandoned space with the Mason family:
My direct line starts with the marriage of William MASON to Mary
RICHARDSON at Simonburn on 23rd June 1743, both shown ‘of this parish’. William
MASON was buried at Simonburn on 26 May 1774, of Middle House, Warden Parish.
Mary MASON died on April 5 1809, widow of William MASON, of Brokenheugh,
buried on 8 April 1809 at Newbrough, aged 97.
They had children baptised:
Ann MASON 24 June 1744, Simonburn (buried 5 December 1744, Simonburn)
Jane MASON 19 June 1748, Simonburn
*George MASON, 25 March 1750, Newbrough, of Page Croft
Ann MASON, 19 August 1753, Newbrough
Mary MASON, 5 December 1756, Newbrough
*George MASON married Sarah HILL at Warden on May 18 1778. They had
children, all baptised at Newbrough:
Jane MASON, 11 April 1779
Mary MASON, 21 May 1780
Sarah MASON, 7 April 1782
**William MASON, 3 October 1784
George MASON, 18 June 1786
Thomas MASON, 6 September 1789
Ann MASON, 5 February 1792
*George MASON died on 21 November 1809, of Middle House, Newbrough and,
surprisingly, left a will proved at York in 1810, where he is described as
of Middle House, Shepherd to Jasper Gibson of Newbrough Lodge. He names
wife Sarah, his sons William, George and Thomas.
**William MASON married first to Priscilla Soppit on 2 May 1807 at Warden.
They had children baptised at Newbrough:
Barbara MASON, 3 October 1808
George MASON, 18 November 1809
When the light dims in the west, it is not difficult to imagine the young Masons still running free across the high moors.