Close House was built in 1779 for the private use of the Bewicke family; however, it’s history dates back almost 800 years, to the early thirteenth century.
During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries there is evidence of a monastic house at the site, which was owned at the time by the Turpin family and then later by the Read Family. The property remained in the hands of the Read Family for several generations until George Read eventually sold the site to Robert Bewicke in 1626.
Robert Bewicke was a Merchant Venturer who was made Sheriff of Newcastle in 1615 and Mayor in 1628 and 1637. Thus began the long association of the Bewicke Family with Close House.
In 1779 it was decided that a new building was required and the present Close House Mansion was built for Calverley and Mary Bewicke. It is a Georgian style house with a balanced and symmetrical layout, of 2 and a half storeys,with 5 bays to the front and the two adjacent sides. The front aspect, the southern, has a slight 3 bay projection with a pediment and ionic columns supporting the doorhead. The old monastic house was pulled down to make way for the new building. The large bay window of the ballroom marks the site of where it stood all those years ago. The fireplace in the Cocktail Lounge bears a monogram of CMB, possibly that of Calverley and Mary. The conservatory to the west of the house is contemporary with the house and also has 5 bays, with Tuscan style columns.
It is thought that it is a William Newton designed house, and there is evidence that a much more ambitious landscape was planned, including an ornamental canal, than was eventually finished. The Bewicke family remained at Close House for many generations. However, wealth was dwindling, and by the early part of the twentieth century the property was mortgaged.
During this time the house was occupied by the Knott family, Sir James Knott, whose family tragedy during World War I led indirectly to the founding of the James Knott Settlement, which is still helping charities and individuals in the North East as the Sir James Knott Trust. During World War II the property was apparently used as a Nursing Training College, and at that time we are told that the Champagne Bar and Lounge was the bandaging room, the Ballroom the canteen, and the 1st floor rooms were dormitories!
The finances of the family never regained their original strength; so inevitably, much of the surrounding property was sold off between 1945 and 1953. This included Stephenson’s Cottage, High Close House and Heddon Quay. Finally the Mansion and estate were sold at auction in 1953 and bought for the sum of £13,190 by James Rutherford and Sons.
In 1960 they approached Kings College, Newcastle, with the possibility of their purchasing Close House; the asking price was now £20,000! A sale price was agreed of £19,500 and the sale proceeded. Kings College at this point was part of Durham University but became the independent University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1963. In 1994, Close House Mansion was refurbished at a cost of just under one million pounds. The House was used as a conference centre, with classrooms and offices, a botanical and agricultural laboratory site, together with an astronomical observatory to the north of the house.
In August 2004, Newcastle University sold Close House Mansion and golf course, together with the estate, to local business man Graham Wylie, who will develop it into the most sought after venue in the North East of England, offering a wider range of facilities than ever before. The property opened for business in March 2005. In 2007 Close House became a luxurious and tranquil retreat only 15 minutes from Newcastle City Centre offering, conferences, meetings and the finest quality golf.
2011 was one of the most notable years for the recent history of Close House. Lee Westwood, the No.1. golfer in the world at the time, opened the new 18 hole golfer course. Lee Westwood also became the official attached tour professional at Close House, putting Close House on the global golf map. This new 18 hole golf course was voted one of the top 100 golf courses in England shortly after it opened. The new No.19 clubhouse and restaurant opened the same year. The success of No.19 has led to the clubhouse becoming a destination restaurant. The focus at Close House was now very much on golf as the membership grew and Close House invested in the state of the art golf facilities.
2012 saw the opening of the Courtyard suite-style accommodation. The rooms provided the ultimate in luxury for Close House visitors and provided the perfect place to retire after a hard day on the golf course! The development continued in to 2013 with the opening on the new Terrace rooms enabling Close House to accommodate more golfers.
Lee Westwood endorsed the facilities by adding his name to the courses. Close House now offered the world’s only Lee Westwood golf courses. Further developments continued into 2013 with almost £1,000,000 investment in the Lee Westwood Filly Course. The renovation included the addition of new bunkers, greens, furniture and rerouting. The Lee Westwood Filly Course complements the Lee Westwood ‘Championship’ Colt course making Close House the perfect destination for stay and play visitors. Close House was also awarded the ‘service’ award from the North East Chamber of Commerce in this year.
The spring of 2014 saw the opening of the new 9 hole pitch and putt course to further enhance the golf facilities at Close House.