Unlike his father and grandfather, Sir Edward Blackett, 6th Bt., preferred to devote most of his time and considerable energy to his Northumberland estates, though he kept a substantial town house in London. In 1829, shortly before his first marriage, he decided to build what he described as a “shooting box” on his lands to the north of Hadrian’s Wall. That description is akin to referring to an Aston Martin as a “runabout”: the shooting lodge had eight bedrooms plus large servants’ quarters, a dining room, drawing room and study, together with a coach house and stables.
After initial teething problems with the roof, Sir Edward came to stay at Bonny Rigg each August for the shooting season, a tradition that was maintained down the generations. The 1914 edition of Kelly’s Directory of Northumberland refers to Bonny Rigg Hall as “the residence during the shooting season of Sir Hugh D. Blackett bart. of Matfen Hall, who is the lord of the manor.” The tradition, seems to have died out in the early 1930s however, before being revived in the 1950s and continued until the sale of the property in the late 1960s. The house was severely damaged by fire in 1985 and subsequently demolished. Only two cottages, formerly the stable block, remain.