Category Archives: DEMOLISHED HOUSES

ACKTON HALL

A house with a fine reputation and family links to Nostell Priory. The advent of the industrial revolution altered its history and eventual loss.

Ackton Hall - AA Lamb
Ackton Hall, Featherstone. A rare photograph of the house in better times. A.A. LAMB.

According to Eilert Ekwall, in ‘The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names’, the name of ‘Ackton’ refers to an ‘oak-tree farmstead’. This appears far-removed these days, and a far cry from those days of the Victorian industrial revolution when Ackton was at the forefront of coal production. The hamlet grew up between Wakefield and Pontefract, then in the West Riding, but it was Ackton Hall that became the focal point for the area.

The first mention of Ackton Hall appears to have been in the Featherstone Parish Register in 1570, belonging to the Frost family and later passing by marriage to the Beckwiths, who sold it in 1652 to Langdale Sutherland for a price said to be £5,000.¹

The Winn family
The mansion passed to Edward Winn, the younger son of the second baronet of Nostell Priory, binding the two country houses together. Ackton Hall passed to his heir, Thomas Winn (1714-1780), who inherited a much larger house in 1765. Thomas married Mary Duncalf, daughter of Humphrey Duncalf, in 1753, and his only child was Edmund Mark Winn (1762-1833).²

The family of Winn was descended from a cadet of the house of Gwydir, who left Wales in the sixteenth century and settled in London. The immediate ancestor of this branch was George Winn, draper to Queen Elizabeth, who had issue Edmund Winn, of Thornton Curtis in Lincolnshire, who died in 1615, having married Mary, daughter of Rowland Berkeley of Worcester, sister to Sir Robert Berkeley, Knt, one of the Judges of the King’s Bench, by whom he had three sons.

George Winn, the eldest son and heir, whose residence was at Nostell Priory, was created a baronet by King Charles II in 1660. The title passed down the line until Sir Rowland Winn, High Sheriff of Yorkshire  in 1799, who died unmarried in 1803. The title was then devolved upon his cousin, Edmund Mark Winn of Ackton Hall.³

Ackton Hall - The Featherstone Chronicle
Ackton Hall, Featherstone. The date on this photograph is unknown. The house was rebuilt in 1765. THE FEATHERSTONE CHRONICLE.

History portrays Sir Edmund Mark Winn as “a truly worthy country gentleman, with all the politeness of the ancient school, and all the consideration of the kind landlord.” ⁴ He died unmarried in 1833 and Ackton Hall passed to his niece, Mary, eldest daughter of Colonel Duroune of the Coldstream Guards.

She had married Arthur Heywood (1786-1851), the son of Benjamin Heywood of Stanley Hall, in 1825. The Heywood family were descended from Nathaniel Heywood who settled in Drogheda. He had three sons, Arthur, Benjamin and Nathaniel, who all returned to England.

Arthur Heywood Snr, settled at Liverpool and, with his brother Benjamin, founded a bank, Heywood and Co, and by his second wife Hannah, daughter of Richard Milnes of Wakefield, a principal member of a distinguished Non-Conforming family, had four sons, two of whom settled at Liverpool and two at Wakefield.  Neither of the Liverpool sons had children, but Benjamin Heywood of Stanley Hall left a son, Arthur Heywood, who became Mary’s husband.⁵

The death of Arthur Heywood in 1851 was arguably the end for Ackton Hall as a rural mansion. His widow, Mary, remained until her death at Great Malvern in 1863. The estate was put up for sale and the sale catalogue describes the hall as an attractive stone built mansion on a moderate scale seated on a hillside and surrounded by a richly wooded and undulating country.

“Extending on the south and east is a tract of rich park-like land studded with noble oak and other trees of large growth and great beauty. The lawn and pleasure grounds slope gently to the south-west and are well-arranged with retired shrubbery and shaded walks embracing extensive views over luxuriant meadows and a magnificent country.

“In the ground floor are the entrance hall, inner hall, dining, drawing and morning rooms, and a library. On the first floor are a drawing-room and two large bedrooms, and on the second floor are another five bedrooms and three servants’ rooms. There are two water closets. Outside is a stable yard with accommodation for ten horses, a double coach house, a dovecote and farm buildings for the 42 acre farm. There are two kitchen gardens, a conservatory and a vinery, and the hall also has its own spring water supply.”¹

Despite the best efforts of the sales catalogue to find an occupant there was no chance that the hall was going to retain its charm.

Ackton Hall - Yorkshire (Featherstone in Pictures)
Ackton Hall, Featherstone. The mansion was later converted into flats. FEATHERSTONE IN PICTURES.


George Bradley and the price of coal
The surrounding area was now ripe for industrialisation, and coal was the valued prize for ambitious entrepreneurs. The Ackton Hall estate was bought by George Bradley, of the Castleford firm of Bradley and Sons, Solicitors, who had seen the potential for exploiting the mineral assets of the land. It is suggested that he bought the hall and estate in 1865 for £23,400, with another £20,300 used to buy additional land. The cash was borrowed from the University Life Assurance Society, a transaction he would later regret.

Before arriving at Ackton Hall he had been living with his father at Leeds. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1853, but his practice had gradually dwindled due to falling business. As well as the Ackton Hall estate, he later purchased freehold land in Essex, Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Rutland and Yorkshire.

Initially, George Bradley leased Ackton Hall land to John Shaw†, who opened a colliery called Featherstone Main that soon became the largest pit in England. Encouraged by Shaw’s success, Bradley sank two of his own shafts to the Stanley Main Seam and opened his own colliery called Featherstone Manor. It was later extended to the Warren House Seam and at its peak was extracting about 200 tons each day.⁶

“The next and future returns cannot fail to give a much larger quantity, seeing that several very important estates with large areas of coal are now being opened out.” Sheffield Independent. 2 April 1870.

However, George Bradley’s coal-mining aspirations were hindered by lack of finance. In 1888, his dream ended when a writ was issued by the High Sheriff of Yorkshire on Ackton Hall. Bradley had been living in the mansion, but mounting debts were leading him into trouble.  His miners hadn’t been paid, he had defaulted on payment of rates and more importantly, he was behind on mortgage payments.

Ackton Hall north side - Featherstone in Pictures
The north side of Ackton Hall in happier times. FEATHERSTONE IN PICTURES.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - 9 Aug 1890 - BNA
A sale notice from the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. 9 August 1890. THE BRITISH NEWSPAPER ARCHIVE.


Samuel Cunliffe Lister, Lord Masham
In the summer of 1890, it was rumoured that Messrs Lister and Co, of Manningham Mills, near Bradford, had purchased the Ackton Hall estate, including the Manor Colliery, adjoining Featherstone Station on the Wakefield branch of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. The estate had been due to go to public auction, but the sale by private treaty was believed to have been £180,000.⁷

In the end, it turned out that the estate had been bought in a private capacity by Samuel Cunliffe Lister, and not on behalf of the shareholders of the company. He had bought the greater part of the estate, about 1,200 acres, and carried with it all the mineral rights. George Bradley could remain at Ackton Hall and kept some adjoining land, but the mineral rights right under the house had been acquired by Mr Lister. According to the Yorkshire Post, the output from the Ackton Colliery had been comparatively small owing to the want of development, but now that the property had come into the hands of a man of such well-known enterprise and energy as Mr Cunliffe Lister, a guarantee was at once forthcoming that a great change in this respect would shortly take place.”⁸

Ackton Hall Colliery - Author Unknown
Ackton Hall Colliery. It became a thriving colliery under Lord Masham. AUTHOR UNKNOWN.

Samuel Cunliffe Lister was one of the largest landowners in the North Riding, and in the previous nine years had expanded upwards of three-quarters of a million in purchasing the Swinton Park estate, near Masham, from the heirs of Mrs Danby-Vernon-Harcourt, Jervaulx Abbey from Lord Ailesbury’s trustees, and the Middleham Castle property, which he had bought a few months previous.

In time, George Bradley moved to Rectory House in Castleford and was declared bankrupt in 1897. The following year, the conveyance for Ackton Hall passed to Mr Middleton of Leeds, a transaction that was later brought before West Riding magistrates. In January 1906, four Leeds men were charged with having stolen a quantity of lead from Ackton Hall. It was also stated that the defendants had also engaged in removing furniture from the mansion. Thomas Middleton, a Leeds jeweller, told the court that he and his brother were the owners of the hall as trustees under their father’s will. Middleton stated that the defendants did not have permission to remove the lead. However, the case was most unusual due to the fact he claimed George Bradley had never asserted that he had a right to live at the hall, neither did he set up a right to the property. He said his father had taken possession of Ackton Hall after advancing George Bradley money. The case of theft was dropped due to insufficient evidence, but the affairs of George Bradley appeared ever more curious.⁹

Ackton Hall Colliery - Healey Hero (1)
The colliery took its name from the grand old mansion. HEALEY HERO.

The acquisition of Ackton Hall by Samuel Cunliffe Lister (1815-1906) was purely for commercial reasons. He was a rich man, born at Calverley Hall,  the son of Ellis Cunliffe Lister-Kaye, who had assumed the name of Lister on taking possession of the Manningham estate, near Bradford, under the will of Mr Samuel Lister of Manningham Mill.

He was one of the greatest Victorian industrialists, a man who went against his family’s wishes to enter the church and started out in the counting house of Messrs Sands, Turner and Co in Liverpool.

Samuel Cunliffe Lister - Lord Masham - NPG
Samuel Cunliffe Lister, 1st Baron Masham (1815 – 1906). NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY.

On attaining his majority, young Lister prevailed upon his eldest brother to enter the worsted spinning and manufacturing business at Manningham, where their father erected a mill for them. It was here that the attention of the future was directed to the problem of machine wool combing, which at that time was in the embryonic stage. Failures to construct an efficient machine wool-comb had been so numerous that any idea of an invention capable of supplanting the labours of hand-combers was regarded as a major obstacle.

Samuel Cunliffe Lister, however, was of a different opinion, and, finding that a machine upon which an inventor named Donisthorpe was working, although at the time in a very imperfect state, gave the greatest promise of success, he bought the machine for a good round sum, and then taking Mr Donisthorpe into partnership, set himself to work out the idea of the apparatus. In this task the partners succeeded after years of labour and the expenditure of many thousands of pounds. The success of the invention practically placed the wool-combing industry for a time in Mr Cunliffe Lister’s own hands, although to begin with he had to encounter litigation in connection with his patents.

This was typical of the man and during his lifetime patented over a hundred inventions which revolutionised the silk and wool trade; to carry out his ideas, he spent a fortune of £600,000 and was more than once on the brink of ruin. In due course, however, the patents brought in a great financial harvest, and for some years before the Manningham Mills were floated as a company, the average net profit was £2 million a year.

Few men lived a life of steadier application to business, and on one occasion he publicly stated that for twenty-five years, he was never in bed later than five o’clock in the morning.

Ackton Hall Colliery - My Featherstone Collieries
By 1924, Ackton Hall Colliery was at its peak employing 1,940 men underground and 636 on the surface. MY FEATHERSTONE COLLIERIES.

It was characteristic of the man that he should not care for public honours, and probably none of his intimate acquaintances were surprised when he declined to accept a baronetcy on the Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1877. The Peerage was not conferred until 1891, when the veteran inventor was in his seventy-sixth year.¹⁰

In addition to investing large sums in landed property, the new Lord Masham successfully turned his attention to the working of collieries. He ploughed significant amounts of money into Ackton Hall Colliery and it soon became one of the most successful pits in the country. He began to provide social facilities and housing for the miners, and the new town of Featherstone was developed in the field between Ackton and Purston as a mining town with good quality housing and social services.¹¹

However, in this industry he had an unfortunate experience with his workpeople, and it was remembered that in the dispute in the coal trade in 1893 the military fired on rioters who were destroying property at the Ackton Pit Colliery.*

Ackton Hall Map - NLS
NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SCOTLAND.
Ackton Hall Map - NLS 1
The old map shows the site of Ackton Hall. The house and colliery have long since disappeared. The modern-day satellite image shows that the site of the house has now been grassed over. GOOGLE MAPS.

Decline and fall
The rise of Ackton Hall Colliery also led to the demise of the mansion. Its proximity to the workings rendered it undesirable, the views obscured by the workings,  and it was eventually split into flats. The new town of Featherstone quickly developed in the field between Ackton and Purston but, by 1969, the mansion had become so dilapidated that it had to be demolished.¹²

Ackton Colliery was the first pit to close following the end of the 1984-1985 national miners’ strike.

Ackton Hall before demolition - Featherstone in Pictures
Ackton Hall in a derelict condition that inevitably led to its demolition. FEATHERSTONE IN PICTURES.

Notes: –
† John Shaw (1843-1911), of Welburn Hall, Kirby Moorside, colliery proprietor, chairman of the South Kirkby, Featherstone, and Hemsworth collieries. Three times unsuccessful Conservative candidate for Pontefract, who died in 1911, only son of George Shaw of Brook Leys, Sheffield.

He went to Featherstone with his father in 1866, to open out the coal field. Subsequently the South Kirkby collieries were acquired, and in 1906 the Hemsworth collieries were added. The company became known as South Kirkby, Featherstone and Hemsworth Collieries Ltd. For some time, he lived at Newland Hall, near Normanton, but soon after he removed to Darrington Hall where he remained until about 1896, when he went to live at Welburn.

*In July 1893, a fall in the price of coal led to owners to stockpile output and ‘lock out’ their workers. In Featherstone, workers were increasingly restless and on September 7 rumours spread that coal at Ackton Hall was being loaded onto wagons and then transported to the owner’s mill in Bradford. An angry crowd gathered outside the pit and confronted Mr Holiday (the pit manager) and a work gang that was loading the wagons. Eventually troops were called in. Three officers and 26 men arrived from the First Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment. A local magistrate, Bernard Hartley JP, read the Riot Act. When the crowd didn’t disperse the troops were ordered to fire warning shots. The second volley of shots wounded eight people, two of whom died of their injuries. As a result of the debacle the Liberal Government lost much of its working class support.

¹ The Featherstone Chronicle – A history of Featherstone, Purston and Ackton from 1086 to 1885.
² The Peerage.
³ Leeds Mercury. 13 June 1891.
⁴ Leeds Intelligencer. 22 June 1833.
⁵ ‘The Rise of the Old Dissent, Exemplified in the Life of Oliver Heywood 1630-1702’ by The Rev Joseph Hunter, F.S.A. 1842.
⁶ Featherstone’s Three Collieries.
⁷ Yorkshire Evening Press. 21 June 1890.
⁸ Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. 20 August 1890.
⁹ Leeds Mercury. 13 January 1906.
¹⁰ Leeds Mercury. 3 February 1906.
¹¹ Wakefield Council. Featherstone Delivery Plan 2014-2016.
¹² ‘Lost Houses of the West Riding’ by Edward Waterson and Peter Meadows. 1998.

Further reading: –
Featherstones Three Collieries
The Featherstone Chronicle

BEAUPRE HALL

Nothing remains of Beaupré Hall, an unloved manor house, that was eventually abandoned. In the 1960s, developers replaced it with a housing estate.

Beaupre Hall 1963
Beaupré Hall, Norfolk. WILLIAM SMITH COLLECTION.

In the late 1960s, the owner of a new bungalow in the long-straddling village of Outwell, that lie on both sides of the River Nene in Norfolk, gazed out at the remains of a stone building in his back garden. What to do with them? In the years to come, these would presumably have been removed and the gardens landscaped to match the modern house. The stones might well have come in handy.

Over fifty years later, there are no traces of those ancient stone relics.

Once upon a time, this was a house called Beaupré Hall, erected in the early sixteenth century by the Beaupre family, who also held the manors of Sautrey, Wells, Norton, Hakbech and Thurning. The estates became the property of Edmund Beaupré, and eventually absorbed into the Beaupré estate.1024px-Beaupre_Hall_Outwell_Norfolk

The house was built between 1500 and 1530, added to later with a castellated gate house, and subsequently extended and altered by members of the Beaupré and Bell families. Dorothy Beaupré had married Sir Robert Bell in 1559 and succeeded to the manor. He was a speaker in the House of Commons of England and the Beaupré estate stayed in his family for generations.

Beaupre Hall - Norfolk - Lost Heritage (1)
Beaupré Hall, Norfolk. LOST HERITAGE.
Beaupre Hall - Norfolk - Lost Heritage (2)
Beaupré Hall, Norfolk. LOST HERITAGE.

By the end of the eighteenth century, the house had fallen into disrepair, the family fortune squandered by Beaupré Bell in the late 17th century onwards. He was said to have been a keen antiquary, more interested in collecting relics than spending money on the upkeep of the old manor house.

His son, also Beaupré Bell, died unmarried in 1741 and the house passed to his sister, Elizabeth, and her husband William Greaves. They made repairs to the house and demolished those parts beyond restoration. It was inherited by their daughter, Jane Greaves, who had married Charles W. Townley of Fulbourn in Cambridgeshire.

In 1889, a correspondent, known simply as H.K., wrote in The Methodist Recorder:

“Far back into centuries I should have to go in imagination to find the man who built Beaupré Hall, with its gabled and mullioned windows and beautiful gateways and courts and porches, with its picturesque towers and chimneys outside, and its wilderness of oak-panelled rooms and passages inside.”

Charles Townley thought the house surplus to requirement and had unsuccessfully attempted to dispose of it at auction in 1888. The house was probably tenanted because, at this time, Beaupré Hall was occupied by three ladies – the Misses Wilsons – who kept an open house for visiting Methodist preachers.

In the 1890s, Beaupré Hall was finally sold to the Newling family who remained until the twentieth century. On hindsight, the problems for the old manor house started here. A gale in 1915 severely damaged the building, and a chapel in the north-west range had its roof torn off and allowed to become derelict.

Christopher Hussey, the architectural writer, visited Beaupré Hall in 1923, its condition was such that he anticipated its eventual destruction.

Beaupré’s biggest problem came in the form of the Royal Air Force, who requisitioned the hall during the Second World War. Afterwards, the mansion was in serious disrepair, with substantial roof damage.

Beaupre Hall - Norfolk - Lost Heritage (3)
Beaupré Hall, Norfolk. LOST HERITAGE.

There were those who almost loved the house and might have saved it. In 1947, the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works, gave it listed status, but little else. A fire in 1953 worsened its condition, and it was left to Mrs Kingsman, (formerly the wife of Edward Newling, who had married Stuart Kingsman), to offer the hall to the National Trust. It declined the offer, becoming the second heritage body that turned its back on Beaupré Hall.

The house and 13-acres of land was put up for sale and had two subsequent owners. Nevertheless, Beaupré Hall was quickly becoming a ruin.

Beaupre Hall - Norfolk - Lost Heritage (4)
Beaupré Hall, Norfolk. LOST HERITAGE.

During the 1950s, barrack huts left over from RAF occupation were used to house students on the ‘Holidays with Pay Scheme’, the ruins of Beaupré Hall no doubt providing an adventure.

The ‘Victoria County History’ reported that much of the building was still standing, but the development of a modern housing estate in its former grounds was a shadow quickly advancing on the house. A photograph taken by Country Life magazine in 1963 showed new bungalows in front of the broken-down house.

Nine years later, the Ministry gave permission for the house to be demolished, the only reminder being the name of the road on which the housing estate stands… Beaupré Avenue .

Beaupre Hall - Norfolk - Country Life Archives (1)
Going. COUNTRY LIFE.
Beaupre Hall - 1966 - Smith, Edwin (1912-1971)
Going. EDWIN SMITH COLLECTION.
Beaupre Hall - Norfolk - Google Maps (1)
Gone. GOOGLE MAPS.

OFFLEY HOLES HOUSE

One hundred years ago, fire claimed another country house, one that was barely twenty-five years old.

Offley Holes House - A History of Preston in Hertfordshire (1)
A HISTORY OF PRESTON IN HERTFORDSHIRE.

February 1919 was a bad month for country house fires. One hundred years ago, this week, Offley Holes House, near Hitchin, in North Hertfordshire, which had been used for some time as a German prisoner-of-war camp, was totally destroyed by fire. The fire started in the orderly room and spread quickly through the mansion. The Hitchin Fire Brigade quickly arrived but found no water available due to a heavy frost, and so could only watch the progress of the flames.

All the prisoners were safely evacuated and taken to other quarters in Hitchin, but one of the guards was overcome by smoke and was in a critical condition in Hitchin Hospital, to which he was taken by a fire engine.

Offley Holes House was built after the death of Robert Curling in 1894. His will stated that no more than £4,000 should be spent erecting a house for the use of his nephew, Robert Sumner Curling, for life. Unfortunately, Robert “had no interest in the country and preferred to live in London.”

The terms of the will were nevertheless followed and W.A. Lucas was engaged to build the house.

In 1898, the house was tenanted to Percy St Clair Matthey on a twenty-one-year lease. The lease was re-assigned to Joseph Childs Priestley in 1904 and then to Major Robert B. Mervyn Richardson four years later.

In January 1918, despite fierce opposition from Percy Matthey, the War Office took possession of Offley Holes House and converted it into a German POW camp. The house was never rebuilt, the result of inadequate fire insurance.

A comprehensive history of the house can be found at A History of Preston in Hertfordshire.

ORBISTON HOUSE

A country house built from wealth accumulated through the proceeds of slavery. It was never restored after fire destroyed it a century ago, reduced to rubble more than a decade later. 

Orbiston House - Colin Currie
Orbiston House, Lanarkshire. Very view photographs of the mansion survive. This one was taken by Thomas Annan in 1870. COLIN CURRIE.

One hundred years ago, fire had broken out at Orbiston House in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire, occupied by Mr James Steel. The south wing of the mansion was practically destroyed, as had parts of the roof in the main house. The Bellshill and Larkhall divisions of the County Fire Brigade had rushed to the scene, but were hampered by the lack of water pressure, the supply having to be pumped from South Calder Water, some distance away.

It was thought that the fire had started in a defective chimney and spread at an alarming rate along the roof. Several rooms, along with their contents, were destroyed before the fire reached the main building. The damage was estimated to be several thousand pounds.

The fire was the end of Orbiston House, eventually reduced to rubble more than a decade later. It was a sad end to a fine house, one of the most prosperous of them all, built on the profits of slavery.

Gilbert Douglas (1749-1807) had acquired much wealth from being the owner of the Mount Pleasant sugar plantation and the Fairfield cotton estate in St. Vincent. In 1794, he married Cecilia Douglas (1772-1862), the only surviving daughter of John Douglas, a Glasgow linen merchant. Gilbert purchased land at Douglas Park in 1800, and a year later, a further 225-acres, known as Bogs, on the banks of South Calder Water, from General John Hamilton.

Gilbert immediately commissioned Robert Burn, father of architect William Burn, to build a ‘modern’ mansion on the site of Old Orbiston House. This was called Douglas Park and was to be the centrepiece for his Douglas Park and Bogs estate. (There are papers available suggesting that the design had been conceived as early as 1795).

Gilbert Douglas died in 1807, leaving his widow one-third of his estate and life tenancy at Douglas Park and Bogs. Unfortunately, he also left debts of £7,700, eventually cleared by Cecilia Douglas from her own personal fortune. The Scottish estate and the West Indian plantations were put in trust, his widow the principal trustee.

gilbert-douglas-grave - Spanglefish
The memorial at St Bride’s Collegiate Church, Bothwell, Lanarkshire. “To the memory of Gilbert Douglas of Douglas Park. Born 28th May 1749. Died 10th March 1807. And also of Cecilia Douglas of Orbiston, his wife. Born 28th February 1772. Died 25th July 1862. SPANGLEFISH.

Cecilia Douglas turned out to be a formidable businesswoman.

She had watched with irritating fascination a frivolous scheme that had taken place nearby. In 1825, Archibald James Hamilton, the son of General John Hamilton, had gone into partnership with Abram Combe to form an experimental socialist co-operative movement. Combe had bought land off General Hamilton for £20,000, and between them, spent another £40,000 to create a self-sufficient community. Under the banner “Liberty, Security and Knowledge” they established this ‘New Babylon” with accommodation built around a school, theatre, foundry, forge, printing press and a small factory. It ended in failure. Combe died in 1827, the project burdened with debt, local antagonism (no doubt from Cecilia) and the inability to be self-sufficient at all.

In 1830, Cecilia Douglas paid £15,000 to the creditors of the co-operative and added the remaining 291 acres of the Orbiston estate to her own, the enlarged estate now known as the Orbiston estate.

She died in 1862, a wealthy woman of 90-years-old, her estate valued at £40,365. Cecilia’s income had derived from tenant farmers and the slave economy in St. Vincent. Even the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 had increased her fortune, obtaining compensation of £3,013 (about £3 million today) for the 231 slaves on the Mount Pleasant estate. In addition, she held stocks and bonds in banking, railway, navigation, gas and insurance companies – all contributing a handsome dividend. In 1861 she became the sole survivor of the subscribers to the Glasgow Tontine, and inherited the Tontine buildings on Trongate. This had been established in 1781 to build “a public coffee-house with suitable accommodation for brokers, and rooms for tobacco and sugar samples.” The building was sold by her trustees in 1864 for £17,000.

In her will, her collection of paintings, sculptures and artefacts collected during an extended stay in Italy in 1822-23, was to be left to “some public institution in Scotland.” This valuable assemblage containing Gabnelli’s “View of the Roman Forum” and Camuccini’s “The Death of Caesar” was bequeathed to Glasgow Corporation, known as “The Douglas Collection”, and now forming part of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum’s collected works. In 2012, it was questioned whether it was appropriate to display works of art acquired through wealth accumulated through the proceeds of slavery.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum - Art UK
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. The purpose-built museum opened in 1901. It now contains ‘The Douglas Collection’, once displayed at Orbiston House. ART UK.
still-life-herring-cherries-and-glassware-1680.jpg!Large WikiArt
Still-life. “Herring, Cherries and Glassware” by William van Aelst, 1680. Gifted by Cecilia Douglas to Glasgow Corporation. SPANGLEFISH.

Orbiston was inherited by Robert Douglas, a grand-nephew of Gilbert Douglas. He died in 1866 and left half of the Orbiston estate to a relative, John Culcairn Munro, and the other half to his son, Robert Lushington Douglas, who died unmarried in 1888.

The house was leased from 1865 onwards and proved attractive to the Victorian iron and coal magnates in the area.

William Neilson (1810-1882) lived here from 1875. He had founded the Mossend Ironworks in 1840 which grew into the Mossend Iron and Steel Company, one of the largest iron producers in Scotland, and was owner of several coal works on the estates at Carnbroe and Orbiston.

Neilson died in 1882 and the tenancy was taken over by James Addie, a partner in Robert Addie and Sons of the Langloan Ironworks in Coatbridge and the Viewpark Colliery. He left Orbiston in 1896.

It was assumed by William Neilson’s son, Colonel James Neilson (1838-1903), managing director of the Summerlee and Mossend Iron and Steel Company, as well as a director of various railway companies. He died at Orbiston House in 1903.

It lay empty for a long period before being occupied by James Steel about 1914. It was during his tenancy that Orbiston House suffered the disastrous fire of February 1919, which left the left wing of the house destroyed.

The house was owned by the trustees of Lushington Douglas who chose not to restore the house, instead leaving it in the care of Mr and Mrs Drydale, before eventually being demolished in early 1931.

In the 1920s, several acres of land were sold to Bellshill Golf Club, adding to their existing nine-holes.

The site of Orbiston House now sits within Strathclyde Country Park.

Orbiston House - Site - National Library of Scotland (1)
The site of Orbiston House or Douglas Park, as it was once called. NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SCOTLAND.
Orbiston House - Site - National Library of Scotland
A modern day aerial view of the Orbiston estate. The site of the house is now parkland. NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SCOTLAND.

Note:
Gilbert Douglas was not the only Glaswegian profiting from Caribbean slave colonies in the early 1800s. Scotland itself benefited disproportionately from slavery compensation – Scots made up 10% of the British population, but 15% of the slave owners who got payments, with Glasgow getting much of the cash. The early 1800s have been called Glasgow’s “Golden Age of Sugar.”

DALCHENNA HOUSE

One hundred years ago, this week. A large part of Dalchenna House, two miles from Inverary, was destroyed by fire.

Dalchenna House

The greater part of Dalchenna House was destroyed by fire on the night of 30 January 1919. The house was built in 1891 as a hunting lodge and residence for the Sheriff-Substitute of Argyll, and the late Duke of Argyll had made it his residence while in Inverary.

John Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll (1845-1914) had several costly additions made to the mansion in 1908-09, which eventually “assumed the appearance of a castle.”

This mansion occupied a beautiful position on the west shore of Loch Fyne, and commanded one of the finest views of the picturesque district. Since 1903, the Duke of Argyll had resided at the house for weeks at a stretch.

After his death, the entail on Dalchenna House was conferred to his wife, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, Duchess of Argyll (1848-1939), the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert who, according to the Pall Mall Gazette, had a great affection for the beauty of the surroundings and often stayed here.

Dalchenna House - Postcard

At the time of the fire, the house was being occupied by members of the Women’s Land Army, who were engaged in woodcutting in the neighbourhood. The previous autumn, Princess Louise had visited the house and removed several valuable pieces of furniture.

The house was restored and occupied by tenants, but suffered a further fire, although less serious, in 1928.

In 1930, after being diagnosed with a chronic duodenal ulcer, the author A. J. Cronin was told he must take six months complete rest in the country on a milk diet. At Dalchenna House, he was finally able to indulge his lifelong desire to write a novel, ‘Hatter’s Castle’.

During World War 2, Dalchenna was requisitioned by the Admiralty but, according to Historic Environment Scotland, the house has since been demolished. Its location was probably north-east, but close to the surviving Dalchenna Farm.

Dalchenna House - Postcard 1

THE FARM

From generation to generation Sheffield has made an annoying habit of destroying some of its most notable buildings and features.

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The Farm once stood in the countryside. It stood in its own grounds where Granville Road and Norfolk Park Road exist today. Nowadays, the site is where the Sheffield Supertram makes a dramatic descent towards the city centre. Image: Picture Sheffield.

‘Lost to suburbia’. Once upon a time, this country house was in idyllic countryside, but the growth of Sheffield as an industrial town quickly devoured it. Its name would turn out to be a contradiction, considering the surroundings it eventually found itself in. Nowadays, it is hard to believe that The Farm ever existed at all, its close proximity to the city centre obliterating every trace of it.

Sheffield once had a dual history, for it was at the same time a town and (eventually) city, and also a great landed estate belonging to the Duke of Norfolk.

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The Farm, Sheffield. This photograph was taken between 1905 and 1910. Apart from his architectural work at Arundel Castle, the 14th Duke of Norfolk built this house on his Sheffield estate.
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The Farm, Sheffield, was a grand house overlooking a picturesque lake with an island. Image: Picture Sheffield.

Dating back to the 18th century, The Farm was rebuilt on an even grander scale in 1824 to provide accommodation for Michael Ellison, local agent for the 12th Duke. Henry Granville Fitzalan Howard (1850-1860), the 14th Duke of Norfolk himself moved to The Farm three decades later, but not before it had been rebuilt once again to the designs of Matthew Ellison Hadfield (nephew of Michael Ellison). It marked a new beginning in the ducal attitude towards Sheffield. As a major landowner he took a close interest in local affairs and was to be in residence for part of every year. A new wing was built, containing the offices.

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The Farm, Sheffield. By the turn of the twentieth century, the Duke of Norfolk owned about fifty thousand acres of estate, chiefly at Arundel and Sheffield, but with smaller estates in Surrey, Norfolk and London. Image: Picture Sheffield.

The Farm contained a square, lead-covered tower ‘with oriel turret stair, surmounted by a lofty vane, and flanked by a grand stack of chimneys’. There was a domestic chapel over the gateway, and the kitchen offices ‘very capacious and complete’. The tower was adorned with figures carved in stone, representing the four rivers – Don, Sheaf, Loxley and Rivelin – which flowed through his estate.

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The Farm, Sheffield. This map probably dates from the 1920s and shows the layout of the Duke of Norfolk’s property. The railway had cut through its former parkland and roads were already established.

By this time, the tunnel of the Sheffield-Chesterfield railway passed beneath the grounds.

When his son, Henry Fitzalan-Howard (1847-1917), 15th Duke of Norfolk, inherited in the 1870s his estates produced over £100,000 gross per annum and his income increased throughout his life. Over half came from Sheffield, not just from rents but also from mineral rights and the markets, which he owned as lord of the manor until 1899 when he sold them to Sheffield Corporation.

He was a British Unionist politician and philanthropist. He served as Postmaster General between 1895 and 1900, but is best remembered for his philanthropic work, which concentrated on Roman Catholic causes and the City of Sheffield. (He was the first Lord Mayor of Sheffield).

Walker, Hester M., active 1906-1907; Henry Fitzalan-Howard (1847-1917), 15th Duke of Norfolk, Founder and First President of St Edmund's College (1897-1917)
Henry Fitzalan-Howard (1847-1917), 15th Duke of Norfolk. Image: Art UK.
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The Farm, Sheffield. The 1960s. Lost in a cloud of railway smoke. The mansion’s days were numbered. The ‘newly constructed’ Granville College can be seen to the right. The house was raised to the ground as was the college at a later date. Image: Sheffield History.

The Duke of Norfolk’s estates in Sheffield survived until the 1950s, before gradually reverting to the council. After the Duke of Norfolk, the mansion became offices for British Rail Eastern Division, before being demolished in 1967, when the area was used for the building of Granville College. Today the site is occupied by the futuristic City Campus of Sheffield College, but former parkland once adjacent to The Farm, is now known as Norfolk Heritage Park, enjoyed by the public for generations.

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The Farm, Sheffield. The house built by the 14th Duke of Norfolk to the designs of M.E. Hadfield. Now demolished. Image: John Martin Robinson.
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The Farm, Sheffield. This photograph from the 1960s shows it hemmed in by the railway and newer developments. Image: My Kind of Town.
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The Farm, Sheffield. Inside the palatial mansion when it served as offices for staff of British Rail’s Eastern Division. Image: My Kind of Town.
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The site of the City Campus of Sheffield College was once The Farm, a mansion in Sheffield, belonging to the Duke of Norfolk. The Sheffield Supertram now sweeps across the landscape.

BISHOP’S HALL

A century ago, a newspaper article mentioned Lord Lambourne’s country house in Essex. It was demolished in 1936, and one hundred years later, is all but forgotten.

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Bishop’s Hall, Lambourne, Essex. Image: Hainault Forest.

On this day, one hundred years ago.  ‘This Morning’s Gossip’ in the Leeds Mercury mentioned Lord Lambourne, the newly appointed Lord-Lieutenant of his native Essex. This rather unobtrusive column mentioned that Lord Lambourne possessed an interesting residence near Hainault Forest. By name, Bishop’s Hall derived its episcopal title from Henry Le Despenser, who was curiously rewarded by the Pope for military services in Italy with the Bishop of Norwich.

“A mitred ruffian was Henry, for he suppressed with hideous cruelty the rising of the wretched peasants of the district, described by William Morris, another man of Essex, in his ‘Dream of John Ball’. The 14th century mansion, which King Edward VII once visited is, of course, much modernised.”

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Bishop’s Hall, Lambourne, Essex. Image: Hainault Forest.

The newspaper article provided an insight into a country house that we have since forgotten.

The manor of Bishop’s Hall passed from the Bishop of Norwich to Sir Thomas Audley in 1536 as a consequence of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. From there it passed to the Hale family and by 1606 it belonged to Clement Stoner. The site of the original manor-house was described as being “wasted and overgrown”. In the 18th century it was held by the famous dandy, Edward Hughes Ball, or ‘Golden Ball’.

The Bishop’s Hall mentioned by the newspaper was built to the west of Bishops Moat by William Waker, or his son Thomas, in the early 18th century. It subsequently became the seat of the Lockwood family. It was much enlarged by Lord Lambourne in 1900.

Colonel Mark Lockwood, created Lord Lambourne in 1917, died at Bishop’s Hall in 1928. The barony became extinct with his death, but the estate passed to a cousin, John C. Lockwood, a barrister and MP. Its new owner found he couldn’t afford to maintain the large estate under the same conditions, and he formed a private company with a London florist to market the flowers from the gardens. By this venture he was able to keep his staff of gardeners, as he made them all shareholders in the company.

However, whether the business was successful or not, the old Tudor mansion was demolished in 1936 and a smaller property built about 150 yards to the east. The present house incorporates a number of architectural fixtures and fittings from its predecessors.

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Bishop’s Hall, Lambourne, Essex. Image: Hainault Forest.