The name Dalemain means ‘manor in the valley’, there has been a settlement in it’s position since the time of the Saxons.The first recorded mention of a building on this site, is of a fortified pele tower in the reign of Henry II; one of a line of towers built to protect the country against the marauding and barbaric Scots to the North.
In the 14th century a manor hall was added, with a second tower and during the 16th century two wings housing kitchen and living quarters, one on each side of the main building were built. These various building works provide a glorious confusion of winding passages, quaint stairways and unexpected rooms in the house that stands today; the Fretwork Room particularly has a magnificent sixteenth-century plaster ceiling and beautiful oak panelling.
In 1679, Sir Edward Hasell bought Dalemain thanks to a legacy from his employer Lady Anne Clifford. Sir Edward acted as ‘Chiefe Officer’ to Lady Anne Clifford until her death in 1676. As thanks, he was given various gifts from Lady Anne, including her portrait by Bracken and her Diary of 1676 both of which are on show.
Although he made minor changes to the building it was not until later when his son, Edward, built an impressive Georgian front in 1744. This enclosed a central courtyard between the new and the old parts of the house and the house became much grander with public rooms including the breath-taking Chinese Room with its original eighteenth-century, hand-painted wallpaper, riotously alive with birds, insects and flowers.
There have been no major alterations since that date and the interior has thus gradually developed slowly. In 1920 much of the house was modernised by Gertrude Hasell, wife of Major Hasell, who introduced electricity, central heating and redecorated many of the rooms.
The house was opened to the public in 1977 but remains very much lived in by the Hasell-McCosh family where rooms are used throughout the year. There are interesting collections of fine furniture, family portraits, ceramics, dolls’ houses, and old toys.