North East Connected

New book reveals secrets of historic County Durham building

A new book has revealed the secrets of an historic building in County Durham.  ‘Hidden in Full View’ tells the story of the Grade II* listed 18th Century Manor House in Sedgefield and has been written and published by Ean Parsons, who owns the building with his wife Vivienne, with artwork and design by locals Kevan Stevens and Neil Edmundson.  The book has been a labour of love for Ean, who took on researching the history of the building in 2016, having bought it two years earlier.

Built in 1707, the Manor House has been a prominent feature in the centre of Sedgefield for over 300 years and has had many functions during its lifetime.  Despite its size and position, few residents have been aware of what lies behind its classic Queen Anne façade until recently.  However, since the building changed ownership in 2014, it has been developed into a thriving business and events hub and now plays a full role in community life.  A keen history buff, Ean Parsons started researching the history of the Manor House and gradually unearthed a wealth of material that ended up forming the basis for Hidden in Full View.

From rural mansion house, to council offices and magistrate’s court, the Manor House has been put to many uses in its 300 years, and these are recorded in detail in Hidden in Full View.  More than that though, the book explores the building’s origins and how it came to exist in the first place.  It tells the story of the people who have lived and worked in the Manor House, starting with Judge Robert Wright, the man who had it built.  The narrative takes readers from County Durham to as far afield as the Carolinas in the USA, but it always returns to Sedgefield.

As well as the written history of the Manor House, Hidden in Full View is packed with illustrations, photographs and data from original research and the archives that complete the tale.  Local artist and copy-setter Kevan Stevens helped with the layout and publishing while Sedgefield designer Neil Edmundson interpreted Ean’s vision into an evocative cover that offers an insight into the content of the book.

Ean Parsons comments: “Despite its prominent position in the centre of Sedgefield, the Manor House had faded into anonymity.  Those who had been in Sedgefield long enough, remembered it as a magistrate’s court – some had even spent time in the cells!  And those who were a bit older were aware that it had housed council offices, but no-one seemed to know anything else.  I felt honoured to own such an outstanding building, but wanted to find out about more than its bricks and mortar.  It has been an amazing journey and it quickly evolved from one of mild curiosity to one driven by fascination.

“As I delved further, it became very clear that the full story – insofar as I could establish it – needed to be told.  I am grateful to the local people who contributed their anecdotes of their time in the Manor House which are included in the book, and to Kevan and Neil who helped me bring the book to life.”

Hidden in Full View retails at £12.99 and is available to buy now.  Members of the public are invited to a free launch event in the Manor House, from 6:30-9:00pm on Thursday 15 November.  During the event, Ean Parsons will give guests a full tour of the Manor House (relating it to the narrative of Hidden in Full View), which retains many original features that are listed in their own right, plus later additions such as graffiti scratched on the cell doors in the basement.

For more information about Hidden in Full View, contact Ean Parsons on 07771 828 568 or  Kevan Stevens is owner of The Art Room North East Ltd and can be contacted on  Neil Edmundson is the owner of Edmundson Design and can be contacted on  To find out more about the Manor House in 2018, visit

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