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The Committee

Archaeology at DilstonChapel and new GalleryThe portrait, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, shows James Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater, with his Countess Anna Maria and son John

Richard YoungRICHARD YOUNG (Chair) first became involved with HISTORIC DILSTON in 2007 when as a buildings historian he was invited to date some of the architectural fragments unearthed on the dig being carried out by North Pennines Archaeology.  Richard stayed on as a volunteer archaeologist for the following three summers and after joining the FoHD Committee continued to spend time at Dilston as volunteer custodian and tour guide, producing the aerial perspective drawings for the self-guided tour leaflet.

Richard, a keen walker, is author of The ’15 Walks (published by FoHD in 2015 for the Tercentenary of the 1715 Rising), the book offering ramblers of all ages and ability the chance to follow in the footsteps of the Northumbrian Jacobites. He gives regular talks to local history societies and special interest groups on a range of topics covering all aspects of architectural history and has also worked as volunteer archaeologist on the Stanegate Project and Dukesfield Arches and is currently involved with the reconstruction of Joe the Quilter’s Cottage at Beamish Museum.

From 2015 Richard has led negotiations with CAMBIAN on behalf of FoHD to regain public access to HISTORIC DILSTON.


Leo GoochLEO GOOCH (Vice-Chair) has been a member of FoHD since its inception and had links with Dilston since the publication, in 1995, of his book The Desperate Faction? The Jacobites of North-East England 1688-1745.  In 2000, he initiated the setting up of THE ’FIFTEEN, The Northumbrian Jacobite Society, the inauguration of which took place in Dilston Chapel on 7 October of that year.  He was Chairman of THE ’FIFTEEN from 2000 until 2003.

Leo Gooch is author of A Northumbrian Recuscant Gentry Family – The Radcliffes of Dilston in the Long Seventeeth Century, (Dilston Paper No.1) published by FoHD in 2007.  He has published widely on the history of northern England in the 18th and 19th centuries and currently serves on the Executive Committee of the North East Catholic History Society as Editor of the society’s journal Northern Catholic History.

Frances DickinsonFRANCES DICKINSON (Secretary) initiated the restoration of Dilston Castle & Chapel; from 1993 working with past principals of Dilston College (then in the ownership of MENCAP) towards this end. Her work, aimed at raising a wider awareness of Dilston and its important historical associations, included mounting annual exhibitions in the chapel, giving talks to special interest groups across the region and participating in fund-raising pursuits.

From 2000, Frances worked with North Pennines Heritage Trust, playing a key role in the setting up of HISTORIC DILSTON and founding FoHD in 2007.  She wrote and compiled the HISTORIC DILSTON Guide & History and is author of a number of publications on the Radcliffes of Dilston and the Jacobite Cause.  These include: The Castle on Devil’s Water, The Reluctant Rebel and Tracking a Legend.


Robert MacFarlaneROBERT MACFARLANE (Treasurer) was born at Dilston and has always maintained a connection with the parish.  He was Secretary of FoHD Committee from 2007 until the closure of HISTORIC DILSTON in 2012 and participated, as a volunteer, in the Dilston dig run by North Pennines Archaeology between 2007 and 2010.

Robert is a founder member of Heart of England Genealogists (1969) and has published several transcripts of the Northumberland 1841 Census, including 1841 Census of Hexham, Bellingham, Corbridge, Acomb & St John Lee.  He is currently leading a project, on behalf of FoHD, to restore the Derwentwater Memorial Cross that stands in the forecourt of St Mary’s RC Church, Hexham.

Mary-Rose RidleyMARY ROSE RIDLEY (Membership Secretary) has held this office since the setting up of FoHD in 2007. She has played an important practical role at Dilston from 1995 when, as part of the Historic Dilston Group, she began working with Frances Dickinson and ex-Planning Officer John Lodge – providing invaluable assistance with fund-raising events and the selling of Dilston merchandise. Fascinated with Dilston and its history from being a girl, she has an in-depth knowledge of the genealogy of the Radcliffe family and is an avid collector of books, pictures, prints, relics and other memorabilia connected with Dilston, the Derwentwaters and the Jacobite Cause.

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