“Are you one of the famous Wighams of Coanwood?”…….is not a question I’ve been asked before, or indeed thought about in much detail until this month.
Although I make my living being peppered with difficult questions this one did catch me slightly off guard.
I was very much ‘off duty’ (although still in Northumberland) at the visitor centre for Hadrian’s Wall on a family trip to one of the UK’s most unique world heritage sites.
Despite being born and bred in Northumberland, albeit with a long stint in London, and having a key role in promoting the county I’ve never been to Hadrian’s Wall before (yeah I know).
So, on my first visit there I was a bit surprised that the woman on the till wanted to know if I was a long, lost member of some famous, historical family.
“Yes, of course I am” is my current position on this one and I’ve already instructed my lawyers to reinstate my family title and large estate forthwith.
As soon as I got home I set about the research, and by research I mean a cursory glance at Google three days later. Sure enough, I’m basically the missing Lord Wigham and about fifth in line to the throne.
According to the internet:
“The Wighams are a well-known family in this part of Northumberland. Although their name is first mentioned in 1539, their early history becomes clear only a century or so later. Records indicate that in 1659 Cuthbert Wigham bought both manors of East and West Coanwood for £300 in 1659.”
I was even more pleased to read that:
“There is a record that this Cuthbert, in his early years, took pleasure in loose and unprofitable company, delighting in vain sports”
More than 200 years later little has changed.
I suppose my overall point is that you’re never far from history in Northumberland and on that same day – while I was connecting with my inner Lord of the manor – tourists from all over the world were salivating over one of the most spectacular views in the country.
The one thing you are guaranteed up here is a visitor experience that goes beyond the landscape or the history and you never know, maybe you will be descended from blue blooded stock too.
Hadrian’s Wall is just one of the big attractions that we’re lucky enough to have in the county and we’re currently working with a group of different people on the #bestNland campaign.
It’s trying to find the best of everything from castles to coast and what makes that experience individual to each visitor.
You can read more about it and see some fantastic photography on the Visit Northumberland website or via twitter @visitnland
Please do check it out – it comes with his Lordship’s official seal of approval.