Lady Juliet Gray feels 'local' at Eggleston Hall, Teesdale
PUBLISHED: 16:54 31 March 2011 | UPDATED: 19:07 20 February 2013
Lady Gray, mother to two young children and stepmother to three others in their twenties, has had quite a journey to get to Eggleston Hall Words by Sue Campbell pictures by Andrew Smith
Sitting serene in her beautiful kitchen at Eggleston Hall in County Durham, you wouldnt guess that Lady Gray has had a quite a few interesting jobs in her life.
Married to Sir William Gray, mother to two young children and stepmother to three others in their twenties, Juliet Gray has had quite a journey to get to this lovely old house and grounds in depths of Teesdale.
Shes worked for a kitchen company, in farming, in a backpackers hostel luring in travellers to stay, and - perhaps the most unusual of the lot - inoculating thousands of sheep in New Zealand
Id never done it before, she smiled, and was only chosen to do it because I had some sort of medical background, though I dont think a degree in therapy radiography really qualified me.
Juliet was born in Harrogate, but came to Teesdale in 1975 when her parents settled in Romaldkirk, when they ran the Rose and Crown, the local hotel and inn.
Although I wasnt born in Teesdale, Ive been here a lot of years and now consider myself a local girl, she said.
It was when she finished her degree - one of two she obtained - at Newcastle University that she decided to go travelling.
I decided that I didnt want to work in radiotherapy. It wasnt
for me, but it taught me life was short and you had to make the most of it.
She had always wanted to travel and now seemed the right time, so with a she took off round the world for a year, then aged 22, taking in the US, Fiji, New Zealand and India.
Juliet talks fondly of a favourite place she stayed in New Zealand, Akaroa, where she remembers an amazing view.
It sticks in my mind - standing on a hill, with the sea at one side and a bay at the other, it was just beautiful.
Four the next four years or so she spent time working, saving and then travelling again.
Juliet then when back to university, where she gained a further degree in child psychology and childhood studies.
But a year into her degree, she met William, an architect who runs his practice, William Gray Associates, from the hall, and three years later they were married.
Now she is mother to Theo, aged 4, and Tilly, 16 months, and stepmother to William 24, Octavia 23, and Clem 21.
Eggleston Hall is a classical Georgian country house and was used as the location for the popular ITV series Ladette to Lady. But it is very much a home for Juliet and the family.
We use all of it, said Juliet. Its our home, although we share it with visiting shooting parties for three months of the year.
From the 1970s Eggleston Hall became increasingly well known for fine food and flower arranging and as a striking, wonderfully situated cookery school. The school closed in 1992, but the hall still hosts very popular
cookery and flower demonstrations.
Later this year on November 9 and 10 will see demonstrations by famous cookery writer, Mary Berry, well know for her baking skills, and on November 23 and 24 the noted UK and Italy based authority on Italian food and food culture, Valentina Harris, will be there.
The Hall also has a restaurant, open from April until October (closed on Mondays, except Bank Holidays), and a gift shop, which is open all year round.
Its beautiful walled gardens are well known through out the area and it is also open all year.
As well as a busy wife and mother, Juliet helps put together the Durham Shopping Extravaganza, which raises thousands of pounds annually for mainly local charities.
And she is director of the trading company at the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, and was involved in the recent development and refurbishment of the museum shop and cafe.
I know we have a shop and a caf here too, but I am of the view that the more good places we have in the area to visit, the better, she said.
The sentiments of a true local girl.
Details about cookery and flower demonstrations can be obtained by calling 01833 650553.