Bessie Surtees - who famously eloped with a coal merchant's son by clambering out of the first floor window of her parents' house in Newcastle's Sandgate - has been inspiring our girls' group to put pen to paper.
 
The group, run by our Young People's Service, enjoyed several sessions inside Bessie Surtees House learning all about the spirited adventuress who made her daring bid for freedom to avoid being married off to a man almost 40 years her senior.
Michelle Tomes, from Historic England, the organisation that cares for the building, gave them chapter and verse on Bessie, whilst Mase Letsie, Bekki Redshaw and Stephanie Ampofo, from 'Shout Out Loud', an exciting new youth project run by English Heritage, did creative writing and performance activities with the girls, inspired by Bessie’s story. 
Their 'Letters to Bessie' now form part of a temporary exhibition currently on display at the Jacobean property near the Quayside which visitors can see between 10am-4pm weekdays. It was also part of the Late Shows: Newcastle & Gateshead Culture Crawl in May. One of the letters, by girls' group member, Serena, says:
 
What you did was completely understandable. It showed me that you should always choose the right path for you. You were a brave individual, and I will always envy the lengths you went to, to avoid unhappiness and unfairness in your life. I do think that leaping out the window was slightly reckless, and maybe impulsive. But I also think that you did it for your sake, and I admire that.
 
Bessie went against her father's choice of husband for her by running away to Scotland in 1772 with her lover, John Scott, where they were married. They wed again in Newcastle after their families were reconciled and Scott eventually went on to become Lord Chancellor of England.