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Penshaw Monument – More Than Just A Folly

Penshaw Monument is more than just a folly – to the north east community, its a landmark that signals ‘I’m home’…

Built in honour of John George Lambton, the temple styled monument sits proudly on the summit of Penshaw Hill and can be seen for miles, from County Durham, Wearside and even as far as the darkest Tyneside.

Proudly overlooking Herrington County Park Washington Wildfowl and the Wetlands, Penshaw comes from the old British word pen, meaning hill and shaw describes a dense wooded area.

The Grade l listed monument was apparently built in the form of a Greek temple, stands 136 metres above sea level. It is based on the design of the Theseion, the Temple of Hephaestus, in Athens. It was designed by Newcastle architects John and Benjamin Green and built by Thomas Pratt of Sunderland.

Penshaw Monument

The Monument is made of gritstone from the quarries of the then Marquess of Londonderry. Steel pins and brackets held the gritstone blocks together, but over the years these deteriorated. As a result of deterioration and settlement caused by nearby mining, the Monument was underpinned in 1978.

Penshaw Monument

In 1979 the entire western end of the Monument was dismantled block by block in order that damaged lintels could be replaced by new reinforced concrete lintels, these have artificial stone facings and are recognisable by their buff-yellow colour.

Though the Monument is modelled on the Theseion, Penshaw has different dimensions:

• 100ft (30 metres) long x 53ft (16 metres) wide
• 70ft (21 metres) high
• 18 columns – 6ft 6ins (2 metres) in diameter


To this day Penshaw Monument remains a popular meeting point for thousands of local visitors, many of which live within a few miles.