Penshaw Monument - History and Facts | History Hit

Penshaw Monument

Sunderland, England, United Kingdom

Sitting throne-like overlooking Herrington County Park in Sunderland, the Penshaw Monument was built in 1844 to honour John George Lambton, the first Earl of Durham and is a half-size replica of the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens.

Lily Johnson

18 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Penshaw Monument

Penshaw Monument is a folly that sits atop Penshaw Hill in Sunderland, and in the summer months can be climbed for fantastic views of the surrounding area.

Penshaw Monument history

The monument was built in 1844 in honour of John George Lambton MP, 1st Earl of Durham and the first Governor of the Province of Canada. He had died four years earlier in 1840, and for his relentless campaigning for radical reform was nicknamed ‘Radical Jack’.

Along with Lord Russell, Lambton helped to draft the monumental Reform Bill of 1832, which expanded the franchise and reformed the electoral system in the country.

Designed by Newcastle-based father and son architects John and Benjamin Green, and built by Thomas Pratt of Sunderland based on the Doric order, the Grade I listed monument is a half-size replica of the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens. Around £6,000 was raised by public subscription but the money ran out before the roof and inside walls could be added.

Penshaw Monument today

Looked after by the National Trust since 1939, the monument is 30 metres long, 16 metres wide and 20 metres high and is constructed from local gritstone from quarries owned by the Marquess of Londonderry. The views from the top of Penshaw Hill are exceptional.

The Penshaw Monument is such a prominent local landmark that it even features on the club badge of Sunderland FC. Visits are free and open all year but from Good Friday until the end of September you can climb to the top of the monument for £5 thanks to a spiral staircase hidden inside one of the columns. Bookings are taken through the National Trust website.

Getting to Penshaw Monument

Penshaw Monument is located on the A183 in Penshaw in Sunderland, and is 1 mile from the A19. The nearest train station is Chester-le-Street, 5 miles away, while a number of buses stop at or near the base of Penshaw Hill, including the 2, 2A, and 78.

Featured In