A group of history students in Australia claim to have uncovered evidence that the Duchess of Cambridge’s family once had links to a forgotten stately home near Leeds.
Art historian Michael Reed, of Hallam College in Melbourne, and his students discovered that the Duchess’s great-grandmother, Olive Lupton, was born and grew up on the Potternewton Hall Estate near Leeds.
The story is not exactly new as there were reports of her Yorkshire connection as far back as 2006. Her great-grandfather, Noel Middleton, married Olive Lupton, the daughter of Francis Martineau Lupton, one of a number of the Lupton family who were influential in Leeds throughout much of the 19th century and up until the mid-20th-century. The Lupton family have been described as ‘Landed Gentry; a business and political dynasty.’
More interesting is the Duchess of Cambridge’s connection with Potternewton Hall – long gone – but once one of several country houses in the area – Potternewton Park Mansion, Newton Lodge and Scott Hall.
Potternewton Hall stood on land once owned by the Earl of Mexborough. In the early 1700s the Barker family bought a large parcel of land and around 1720 built the three-storey country house. From 1860 the family had split their estate and sold Potternewton Hall along with 13 acres to Frank Lupton, a wool merchant and mill owner, and the father of politician Francis Martineau Lupton. The Lupton family had been landowners since the 18th century and Frank’s brother, Arthur Lupton, a wool merchant in the family firm, owned the adjacent Newton Hall Estate. Arthur had nurtured ideas for subdivisions on his adjoining estates since the 1850’s and in 1870 decided to sell Newton Hall to Frank and his other brother, Darnton Lupton. Darnton had lived at Potternewton Hall from the 1830’s and had been Mayor of Leeds in 1844.
By the end of the 19th-century the Luptons did not live at Potternewton Hall. The house was now lived in by the Nussey family who are likely to have taken out a long lease and remained there until 1933.
In 1910, the New Briggate Development Company bought half the shares in the Lupton-owned estates and after World War One, with the demand for housing increasing, came the realisation they were sitting on a potential cash windfall.
By 1927 the estates had been sold to United Newspapers who were investing in new markets. The sale of land, and a hefty profit, was obviously their motive because, in 1933, Potternewton Hall was being advertised for sale as “valuable building land”. The Yorkshire Post was already reporting that the Newton Hall Estate was “the largest private building enterprise in Leeds”.
Potternewton Hall was bought by Max Rabinovitch, a wholesale jeweller, of Nassau Place, in Chapeltown. The house and 13 acres had clearly been bought for redevelopment. Just over twelve months later Potternewton Hall and 5 acres at the front was sold for a hefty loss to Pickard and Co, a Leeds building contractor, who confirmed they would demolish the house and build on the land.
By 1935 both Potternewton Hall and Newton Hall had vanished and the land further sub-divided. At the outbreak of World War Two a new housing development, Riviera Gardens, flat-roofed white painted houses, had replaced the house and surrounding gardens.
Following the demolition of Potternewton Hall a York antiques dealer, G.F. Greenwood, offered for sale old panelling from Potternewton Hall. Much of this is lost but some was bought by Lt Col Gowans and reassembled at Sutton Park, Sutton-on-the-Forest, as a morning room
While Leeds may not have played a major part in the Duchess of Cambridge’s life she does have a strong connection. Michael Middleton, her father, spent his first two years (until the age of two) living at Moortown in Leeds.
Olive’s cousin, Baroness von Schunck (née Kate Lupton), also spent her early years with Olive’s family at Potternewton Hall. In fact, Baroness von Schunck’s daughter, Baroness Airedale, lived on the nearby estate – Gledhow Hall – which was once painted by J.M.W. Turner.
Undoubtedly, the Lupton’s were a very distinguished family. Olive Middleton’s two uncles were both Lord Mayors of Leeds – Sir Charles Lupton in 1915 and his brother Hugh Lupton in 1926. Her cousin, Miss Elinor Lupton, was Lady Mayoress in 1943 in her own right. Apart from Potternewton Hall and Newton Hall, the Lupton’s owned a large number of grand houses in the area. These included Beechwood, in Roundhay, Mount Pleasant in Harehills and The Acacia on Oakwood Garden. Beechwood was a Georgian mansion on a large farming estate. It was purchased by Frank Lupton, Olive Middleton’s grandfather, in 1860 and eventually became the Lupton family seat. It stayed in the family until 1998. Much of the Beechwood farming land had been sold by the 1950’s to create a large council estate.
Built: Late 13th century with later additions in at least three stages Owner: Ashdale Hotels Country house hotel
Grade I listed
Late C13 origins. Later additions and alterations in at least 3 stages including C15 tower and refurbishing of interior c1760 attributed to John Carr. Further restorations and rebuilding c1960 for Donald Hart and c1980 for Carmelite Friars. Dressed magnesian limestone with concrete additions and concealed Welsh slate and lead roof. Approximately H-shaped on plan. 2 storeys and basement, 5 bays arranged 2:2:5:2:2 with bays 2 and 4 breaking forward. (Historic England)
The approach to Hazlewood Castle meanders away from the busy A64, which runs between Leeds and York, and suddenly you emerge in a state of stillness. The building is not a castle in the traditional sense but is a succession of intelligent later additions. The front approach is typical country house but is heightened by battlements. The turret towers provide the evidence that this has been a cared-for building under successive owners.
A visit off-season, when visitors are few, makes it the proverbial haunted house with chilling stone dominance, ornamental fireplaces, gloomy panelled interiors and creaking floorboards. St Leonard’s Chapel stands serenely alongside to remind us of the castle’s religious pedigrees.
The story of Hazlewood Castle is one of a house rather than a castle. The Vavasour family lived here for 900 years with its earliest roots in Norman times. The Doomsday Book of 1086 gave it a mention and the devoutly Catholic Vavasours added priest holes in the turret tower and an underground passage to nearby Crossroads Farm. This was an attempt to protect practising priests – and certain death – from Henry VIII’s stand against the Roman Catholic church.
In common with many country houses at the start of the twentieth century Hazlewood Castle suffered with declining estate income. The family mortgaged heavily to generate cash and ended up with debts of £12,000. This resulted with Sir William Vavasour selling the castle in 1908. He moved his family to the Awatere Valley in New Zealand where they founded vineyards and a long tradition of wine making.
Hazlewood Castle was bought by Edward Simpson, a solicitor, who remained there until 1953. During his tenure he added a front terrace and new entrance to the Great Hall (a medieval window was discovered here). Electricity was introduced in 1950-51. Between 1939 and 1953 part of the house was requisitioned by the Ministry of Health as a maternity hospital. Despite its remote location it proved popular with the ladies of Leeds and York who loved its rural surroundings. It is estimated that there were around 5,000 births over fourteen years. Simpson’s wife took an interest in the hospital but, on her death in 1951, an adjustment was needed on the existing lease which expired in 1953. A purchase was rejected by the health authority and the hospital closed its doors in June 1953.
Richard Fawcett, a wealthy local farmer, bought the castle in 1953 and is featured, with his wife, proudly showing Hazlewood Castle off to Country Life readers in two articles that appeared in December 1957. Fawcett’s stay lasted just five years and in 1958 the house was up for sale again.
The purchaser this time was Donald Hart who had ambitions for Hazlewood Castle to become a retreat and pilgrimage centre. He later arranged with the Bishop of Leeds for it to become just that but it would be 1971 before it opened. To avoid gift taxes the estate was bought by the Carmelite Friars but Hart was allowed to remain until his death the following year.
The retreat closed in 1996 and was sold to Brian and Andrea Walker who converted it into a luxury hotel. After extensive conversion it opened the following October with celebrity chef John Benson-Smith highlighting the importance of fine cuisine to its guests. It soon became a major wedding and conference venue but, according to Living North Magazine, it ‘wasn’t an unqualified success, with the heavy emphasis on quality cuisine deflecting from the castle’s other myriad charms’.
It was these charms that Ashdale Hotels, who purchased Hazlewood Castle in 2008, were keen to play upon. Publicity for the hotel tells tales of hauntings and spectral figures. There are even black cats looming out of dark corners. Throughout the hotel guests are reminded of its past with discreetly placed notices that would not look amiss in a National Trust property. It now contains 21 bedroom suites, 6 function rooms and the Great Hall holds 150 people.
Hazlewood Castle Paradise Lane, Hazlewood, Nr Leeds & York, North Yorkshire, LS24 9NJ
Architect: Walter Henry Brierley Owner: National Trust Town house
Grade I listed
Red brick in English bond, with black header diaper patterns, ashlar doorcase and oriel window and moulded brick plinth and dressings. Hipped, pitched and gabled roofs are tiled with brick corbelled kneelers and banks of tall octagonal stacks of moulded brick. Lead lined timber guttering on iron clamps, and rainwater goods of lead with clamps embossed with initials NTK, date 1927 and lion crest. Windows are framed in timber with wooden pegs. Terrace retaining wall of red brick in English bond with bands, strings and coping of moulded brick. Surface is stone paved, inlaid with cobbles in strips and panels. (Historic England)
Goddards is a house made from chocolate. Not in the literal sense. It was built in 1927 from wealth amassed from the manufacture of chocolate. However, Goddards might never have existed had it not been for a series of family tragedies.
This story really begins in 1767 when Robert Berry opened a shop close to Bootham Bar in York. This gentleman made a living selling cough lozenges, candied peel and sweets. He would later be joined by William Bayldon and the business renamed as Bayldon and Berry confectionery.
Joseph Terry (1793-1850), a farmer’s son, moved to York as a young apothecary apprentice and eventually started his own chemist shop in Walmgate selling spices, vinegar, medicines and perfumes and bloodletting by leeches. In 1823 he married Harriet Atkinson, sister-in-law of Robert Berry. This family connection provided the ambitious Joseph with a new opportunity. When William Baylden left the business the ambitious Joseph Terry became Berry’s new business partner. He sold his chemist shop and, for the next two years, gained experience selling cakes, candied peel, marmalade and medicated lozenges. In 1824 the business moved to a new shop in St Helen’s Square. Robert Berry died, a year later in 1825, and was succeeded by his son, George, with the shop now known as Terry and Berry.
This new partnership lasted just three years when George Berry left the business. Terry, the sole owner, and trading as Joseph Terry and Company, retained the existing peels, lozenges and pharmaceutical products, and added bakery, boiled sweets and comfits to the growing product range. The advancement of the railway meant that his products were being transported across the country and sold in 75 towns in the north, midlands and in London. By 1840 the business had become Joseph Terry & Sons.
Joseph Terry died in 1850 and the company was taken over by his middle son, Joseph Terry (1828-1898) assisted by his two brothers – Robert and John. He was the inspiration and expanded the business. In 1862, production moved to a new steam-powered factory at Clementhorpe. The site, beside the River Ouse, allowed ships to travel up the river from the Humber bringing coal, sugar, cocoa and ingredients from around the world. The premises at St Helen’s Square became a shop, ballroom and restaurant (lasting until 1981). During the 1880s chocolate was increasingly popular and a new chocolate section was added. Victorian Britain had fallen in love with chocolate but competitors – Fry, Cadbury and Rowntree – had bigger market share. However, Terry’s were more innovative, developing boxed chocolate assortments, encouraging rivals to follow Joseph, Lord Mayor of York four times, was knighted in 1887. He died in 1898 and was succeeded by his sons Thomas Walker Leaper and Frank.
It is here that fate plays an important part in our story. In July 1910, Thomas W. L. Terry was cycling on his new bike down Windmill Lane towards Tadcaster Road in York. A certain Mr Forth happened to come round the corner and Thomas ran straight into him. A shaft from the bicycle pierced his right thigh. Blood poisoning set in and he died from sepsis.
This tragedy may have been the catalyst for his son, Noel Terry (1889-1980), to join the business a year later. Noel, aged 21, had joined the banking industry on leaving Marlborough school. In 1911, he joined Joseph Terry & Sons, with a workforce of around 300, working in the sales department at St Helen’s Square. In 1915 he married Kathleen Leetham (1892-1980), the daughter of Henry Ernest Leetham, a local miller and prominent businessman. From the beginning Leetham was opposed to Noel’s advances on his daughter and they resorted to communicating by secret letters. However, he eventually agreed for them to marry at Trentholme, the home of Noel Terry’s maternal grandfather.
Noel’s new career would be interrupted by the First World War. He was commissioned into the 5th West Yorkshire Regiment in August 1916 and quickly wounded when a machine gun bullet shattered his thigh during the Battle of Somme. Legend has it that a silver cigarette case, concealed in his pocket, saved his life. Returning to England he took a job at the Ministry of Pensions with his Uncle Frank. After the war he returned to the family business determined to make his mark.
The married couple set up home at No 12, St George’s Place, in York. They lived in this semi-detached house, half-timbered, with their children – Peter Noel Leetham Terry (1919-2006) and his younger brother, Kenneth Thomas Peart Terry (1920-1944).
In 1923, fate played another terrible hand. On the afternoon of Sunday 22nd July a gunshot shattered the peace at Aldersyde, a mansion at Dringhouses. On investigation the body of Henry Ernest Leetham, Kathleen’s father, was found outside the front door. A sporting rifle lay across his chest. An inquest ruled that Leetham had gone to a room on an upper floor, with a slanting roof below the window, laid on the roof, rested his feet on the gutter, and placed the muzzle of the rifle in his mouth, pulled the trigger and fallen to the ground below. It was a devastating blow. Leetham had been a director of the well-known milling firm of Henry Leetham and Sons and was a respected figure in the milling and corn trades in the North of England and on the Corn Exchange, in Mark Lane, London. Of more importance, he’d been the Chairman of Joseph Terry and Sons since 1915, a reconciliatory gesture for the marriage between Noel and Kathleen.
His tragic death meant that Noel Terry would take a significant role in the running of the company. He was made Joint Managing-Director with his step-uncle, Francis. Under their control production and revenue almost doubled. Chocolate was now the foundation of the Terry’s business and new opportunities were sought. The Clementhorpe factory had reached capacity and expansion prevented by the adjacent Rowntree Park. The need for new premises led Noel Terry to choose a green field site, close to York Racecourse, at Bishopsthorpe Road. The grand scheme – including a massive factory, clock tower, liquor factory and office block – designed by J.G. Davies and L.E. Wade, was constructed with red brick and sandstone ashlar dressings.
The new factory opened in 1926 and produced an important new line in their chocolate collection. This was the Dessert Chocolate Apple that quickly proved to be a huge success. This was also the year that Noel Terry made a significant decision for his family. By now their home at St George’s Place was too small. With two young sons and a new daughter, Betty Terry (born 1925), the increasing family wealth meant they could afford a much bigger house.
A short walk across St George’s Place meant Noel was able to procure the services of a neighbour. This turned out to be Walter Henry Brierley (1862-1926), a respected architect, who’d practised in York for 40 years. The plan was for Brierley to design and build a new family home, a short distance away on Tadcaster Road. Noel had purchased a plot of land overlooking the racecourse and within walking distance of the new factory at Bishopsthorpe. Brierley agreed and set to work on plans. Alas, it was a project the architect never lived to see. He died, plans completed, in August 1926.
Building work started at the end of 1926 and continued through most of 1927. The result was a two-storey house of red brick in English bond with a hipped, pitched and gabled roof complete with octagonal brick chimney stacks. The house was approached from a twin-turreted gatehouse on the main road. Two wings protruded to the left and right of the house while the main living rooms were built at the rear of the house looking onto a garden terrace. Plasterwork for the interiors was created by George Bankart – his masterpiece being a part-vaulted ceiling in the drawing room – similar to one at Walter Brierley’s own home. This was Bishopsbarn and the new house had more than a passing resemblance. Brierley’s house was constructed in 1905 in Arts and Crafts style. By 1926 the design for the new house might have been considered ‘dated’ and would be one of the last of the genre to be built. The name chosen for the new house was ‘The Goddards’ – taken from Noel Terry’s middle name – and eventually shortened to plain ‘Goddards’
The gardens, stretching from the terrace down to the racecourse, were landscaped by George Dillistone (1877-1957). He was a partner of the landscape gardening firm of R Wallace & Co from Tunbridge Wells. He’d previously worked on Wadhurst Park and later collaborated with Edwin Lutyens to devise the planting schemes for Julius Drewe’s infamous Castle Drogo in Devon.
Goddards, the perfect family home, was a welcome retreat for Noel Terry. His study overlooked the newly created gardens and he was able to make the short walk across the racecourse to the new factory. Despite its proximity to Bishopsthorpe Noel Terry rarely entertained business clients at home. Another son, Richard Ernest Terry, was born in 1928 (died 1984), each of the family being allocated their own bedroom. They were often seen walking green lizards, bell toads, terrapins and rabbits, strapped in harnesses, around the racecourse.
Despite it being a new-build Noel Terry was keen to furnish it in a distinguishing style. His love of furniture resulted in him gathering fine 18th-century furniture widely regarded as one of the finest collections in the country. Within this were mahogany pieces by Chippendale, Ince and Mayhew, John Linnell, John Gordon and William Vile. In addition, he collected English clocks which were displayed around Goddards.
The business blossomed under Noel Terry and the company launched two products that would be synonymous with the family name. In 1931, the Terry’s Chocolate Orange was launched to compliment the Chocolate Apple and, in 1936, a new plain chocolate assortment was created under the name ‘All Gold’.
However, the Second World War would leave a shadow over the Terry family. Like every other family they made sacrifices. Confectionery production at Bishopsthorpe was reduced and part of the site switched to the manufacturing of propeller blades for fighter aircraft. The Terrys factory now specialised in Devon Milk Chocolate, made from condensed milk, and wrapped in paper bags. The eldest son, Peter, became a training instructor at Catterick but their greatest forfeit was the death of Kenneth. He had joined the RAF and received the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1942 after showing ‘courage, skill and determination’ in destroying a 5,000 ton German merchant ship off the Norwegian coast. Despite sustaining damage to his aircraft, and without radio communication, he managed to fly his crew home to safety. His death, in 1944, was more tragic as it happened during a simple training exercise, north of Fishguard, in Cardigan Bay. The B-24 Liberator, from 547 Squadron, was on night exercise testing new radar equipment with a Royal Navy submarine. The aircraft mysteriously crashed into the sea killing Kenneth and his crew of eight. He was buried in Dringhouses Cemetery.
After the war life would never be the same. Noel Terry busied himself by becoming one of four founders of the York Civic Trust in 1946. To confound matters sales of confectionery were still affected by rationing that would not end until 1953. The business survived and Sir Francis Terry retired in 1958 leaving Noel to assume sole responsibility. He’d been joined by his son, Peter, but the remaining children would lead lives elsewhere. Betty left home at the age of 18 and Richard would pursue a career in agriculture.
In 1963, Noel Terry engineered the sale of the company to Charles Forte. The acquisition, for £4.3 million, secured Terry a place on the board of Forte Holdings. The confectionery business now sat awkwardly alongside hotels, coffee houses, wine bars, ice cream manufacturing and leisure facilities. Seven years later he chose to retire and spend the remaining years at Goddards. His son, Peter, stayed with the company becoming deputy managing director. The US giant Colgate-Palmolive acquired Terrys in 1977 but ownership was short. United Biscuits added Terrys to their portfolio in 1982 with Peter retiring a year later.
Noel and Kathleen Terry remained at Goddards until 1980. Kathleen (aged 88) passed away in March and Noel (aged 90) would die three months later. Their deaths would provoke a dilemma. What to do with house and contents? The first course of action was instigated by Peter Terry who approached the York Civic Trust whom he knew was looking for a scheme to secure the future of Fairfax House. He offered them the entire private collection of his father’s 18th century furniture collection. Once accepted this collection provided a treasure trove and the best examples of British cabinet-making and horology.
Once moved to Fairfax House the contents proved to be exceptional. Noel Terry had begun collecting in 1918 with the purchase of a bureau bookcase for £44. His timing was opportune. Many aristocratic families had chosen to sell valuable contents to secure their financial future. The country house sales provided an important platform for him to seek out the best pieces. His inspiration probably came from his father-in-law, Henry Ernest Leetham, who’d created an impressive collection of porcelain and jade.
Terry had furnished Goddards with assistance from local dealer Charles Thornton and Mallett’s of London. He had bought one or two outstanding pieces each year up until 1978 and his wish was that the entire collection be preserved for the City of York.
Goddards was granted Grade 1 listing in 1983, the same year it was handed to the National Trust with planning permission for conversion to office use. It became the Regional Office with a willingness to protect the interiors. So little was altered that it still retains most of its original features. Arts and craft wallpapers and panelling, covered by wall boards, remain. Light fittings, switches, original baths, water closets, washbasins and radiators survive. The impressive gatehouse reverted to residential use in 1999 and, in 2012, the National Trust was granted permission to open ground floor and first floor rooms as a visitor attraction. Betty Terry (now Lawrie), the only surviving family member, helped the trust with research and provided stories, photographs and memories for the house. With interiors restored only the original furniture is missing. This resides on public display at Fairfax House but Goddards is elegantly refurnished with period pieces. Each room now contains an exhibition plotting the Terry family story.
Although the house survives a sadness darkens the Terry’s story. In 1993 Kraft Foods acquired the chocolate business and eventually moved production out of York. Products are now manufactured in Belgium, Sweden, Poland and Slovakia. In 2005 the Bishopsthorpe factory closed and ended the company’s long association with the city. The factory, renamed The Chocolate Works, will become part of a mixed-use development of residential, commercial and leisure facilities.
Goddards, 27 Tadcaster Road, York, North Yorkshire, YO24 1GG
Large house. Begun 1805 and completed after 1824 in the style of Wyatt. Ashlar, Westmorland slate roof. Two storeys, 13 x 7 first-floor windows to main block, with narrow rear wing with 4 first-floor windows. (Historic England)
Built: 1805 and finished after 1824 Architect: Unknown but completed by Robert Dennis Chantrell Owner: Rudding Park Ltd Hotel , spa and golf resort Grade I listed
And so on to another house that has been resurrected as a hotel.
Rudding Park House may not be the architectural historian’s favourite. It is plain in comparison with its contemporaries and on a dull winter day might be described as somewhat bleak.
However, the house has a simplistic and attractive charm. Nowadays the house appears lost amidst a myriad of hotel extensions and car parks that form Rudding Park Hotel. Thankfully, the house still occupies pride of place on a plateau looking eastwards across the slopes that were once part of the medieval Knaresborough Forest. The hotel developments lay behind the house and it is still possible to see it in its original form.
The visit was on the back of a book I read recently. James Lees-Milne’s Fourteen Friends had a chapter on Everard Radcliffe (1910-1975) whose ‘bond was strengthened when we were a good deal thrown together in protracted negotiations over the future preservation of his ancestral estate, country house and the exquisite works of art it contained’. Prolonged these negotiations were as they went on from 1959 until 1972.
Rudding Park had originally been owned by the Earl of Rosslyn who sold it to his nephew, the Hon William Gordon, in 1805. He set about demolishing the old house, which stood a little towards the south-west, and prepared work on a new one. History doesn’t say who the original architect was, but the foundation walls were rectangular with five ellipses – two on the main east front, one on each side and a rear one on the west elevation. Work was painfully slow and when Gordon decided to sell Rudding, in 1824, only a few outline walls had been built.
The buyer was Sir Joseph Radcliffe, 2ndBaronet, who decided to sell the family home at Milnsbridge, near Huddersfield.
The Radcliffes were an ancient Lancashire family and Sir Joseph’s father, the 1stBaronet, had played a key part in suppressing the Luddites of the Colne Valley.
Milnsbridge House was a three-storey house built in 1756 and set in large grounds including an ornamental garden and two ponds. However, the industrial spread was advancing and Rudding Park provided a new beginning.
Radcliffe continued work on Rudding Park with the help of Robert Dennis Chantrell, a pupil of Sir John Soane and the architect behind Leeds Parish Church.
Once completed the house consisted of two storeys – no second floor or attic – and was made of ashlar with a Westmorland slate roof. The roof was surmounted by plain projected cornicing in place of the traditional parapet.
‘It is typical of that post-Regency phase of architectural simplicity, a reaction if you like from the ostentation of the Prince Regent’s Carlton House and Brighton Pavilion influences, in being mathematically uncompromising, almost puritanical’.
Once built there appears to have been very little work done to Rudding Park with the exception of a private chapel alongside the house. This was on a very grand scale and is the size of a parish church. It was built by A.E. Purdie in 1874 for Sir Percival Radcliffe, the 3rd Baronet, and with its Aberdeen granite and alabaster, remains untouched today.
‘Everard was immensely proud of the Victorian chapel and the treasures it contained’.
By the time the 4th Baronet, his grandfather, handed Rudding Park to Joseph Benedict Everard Henry Radcliffe (hereby known as our Everard Radcliffe), shortly after the Second World War, the house was run down and in desperate need of attention.
The trustees advised him to get rid of the estate but, with a sense of family loyalty, he set about restoring the house. The interiors were redecorated, refurnished and renovated with collected antiques, ornaments, portraits and furniture.
‘We have the history of England in a few rooms hung with tapestries and pictures’ wrote Sacheverell Sitwell.
The house was opened to the public but there appeared to be concerns on the part of Everard Radcliffe as to the future of the estate.
‘When money problems caught up with his extravagance he played a protracted game of cat and mouse with the National Trust over his inheritance,’ says Deborah Devonshire in her book All in One Basket.
Radcliffe had gifted the Marsden Moor Estate, near Huddersfield, to the National Trust in 1955, presumably in lieu of death duties for his grandfather, the 4th Baronet, who had died in 1949. The National Trust might have been forgiven for thinking that the house would be transferred to them.
‘Everything was safely tied up, and the only thing left to be done was Everard’s completion of his will and signature thereto’.
In 1971 Rudding Park was the location for a Granada TV series, Seasons of the Year, a series of six plays involving various occupants of ‘Seasons’, a country house, over a 150 year period.
How ironic it might have seemed when, in March 1972, The Evening Postnewspaper reported that Rudding Park was on the market thus ending the Radcliffe’s own 150 year occupancy.
The estate was sold for £1.2m to John Howard Mackaness (1915-2002).
Radcliffe kept small pieces of furniture and the contents fetched £200,000 at auction. He moved to Switzerland and died in 1975.
Mackaness was a landowner, businessman and master of foxhounds, with strong family roots at Boughton Hall in Northamptonshire.
He had big ambitions for Rudding Park and converted the kitchen gardens into Rudding Holiday Park in 1973.
In the early 1980s the redundant farms buildings to the north of the site – previously Home Farm then The Stables – were sold for a private housing development called Rudding Dower.
It would be 1987 before Rudding Park House was developed when it became a prestigious conference and banqueting centre. An 18-hole golf course was created in 1995. But arguably the most important advancement came after Mackaness’ death, with the building of a 50 bedroom hotel alongside the house in 1997 and a further 48 rooms added in 2010.
There is always sadness when a house moves out of private ownership. However, Everard Radcliffe will take some solace that the Mackaness family, who still own Rudding Park, have ensured the future survival of the house.
Note: The Radcliffe Baronetcy of Milnsbridge House in the County of York is a title in the Baronetage of the United Kingdom. The title still exists with Everard Radcliffe’s son, Sir Sebastian Everard Radcliffe, 7th Baronet, (Born 1972), who inherited the title at the age of three.
Rudding Park Hotel, Follifoot, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG3 1JH
Built: 1720 with later additions Architect: Sir William Wentworth and Col. James Moyser Owner: Rushbond PLC Currently unoccupied with plans for hotel development Grade II*
Large country house and later college. Circa 1720, 1780s, 1811-14 and c.1852. The south range c.1720 by Sir William Wentworth and Col. James Moyser for Sir William Wentworth himself. The north range 1780s by William Lindley of Doncaster, the linking block and remodelling of the south range (ie the south bow and the east portico) 1811-14 by Jeffry Wyatt for Col. Thomas Richard and Diana Beaumont, the projecting dining room on the east front added c.1852 probably by Thomas Richardson for Thomas Blackett Beaumont. Ashlar, the roof hidden behind parapet. 9-bay by 5-bay main, south range with a 3-bay link block to north which extends westwards and terminates in the orangery, and a 7-bay north range. (Historic England)
Academia has been kind to Bretton Hall. If it hadn’t been for the foresight of Sir Alec Clegg, Chief Education Officer at West Riding County Council, we might not have been able to see it at all.
In 1947 he purchased the house for £30,000. It gave Bretton a purpose and an acceptable standard over the following decades. Now it stands silent. While the grounds have been revitalised the house has been empty since 2007. Nevertheless, it remains a graceful sight.
Its history goes back to the 14th century when the Dronsfields built on the Yorkshire hillside.
The estate passed by marriage to the Wentworths in 1407. Such was the importance of the family that King Henry VIII spent three nights at Bretton and the furnishings, draperies and panelling from this room would go down in posterity.
The current house was built around 1720 by Sir William Wentworth, assisted by the architect, Colonel James Moyser. Famously the contents of the Henry VIII parlour would be incorporated into the new house.
In 1792 Bretton Hall passed over to the Beaumont family.
There began a period of improvement and expansion for the house. In 1793 the library and dining room would be remodelled by John Carr with a new wing built by Sir Jeffrey Wyattville between 1811 and 1814.
Stables were added by George Basevi in 1830. Such was the grandness that four lodges would be commissioned. The North Lodge and Haigh Lodge were probably designed by Jeffrey Wyattville, and likely to have been built at the same time as the 1811-14 extension. The Hoyland Lodge has had considerable alterations and the imposing Archway Lodge, designed by William Atkinson in 1801, stands as a stately archway with grooved columns, seemingly leading to nowhere in the 21st century.
The house itself is a three-storey nine-bay range built in sandstone ashlar with its roof hidden behind a balustrade parapet. It is topped with tall ornamental chimney stacks.
It looks over the pleasure grounds and parkland which were the work of landscape designers Richard Woods, in the 18th century, and Robert Marnock, who was head gardener in the 1820s and 1830s, and would go on to become the first curator at Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens. The River Dearne flows easterly and was dammed in the 18th century to form two lakes.
In the 19th century the Bretton interests included property, agriculture, coal mining, and lead mining as well as share interests at home and abroad. They had become one of the wealthiest landowning and mining families of Northumberland with roots at Bywell and Allenhead.
In 1831, Thomas Wentworth Beaumont, who inherited his mother’s estate, would be called the ‘richest commoner in England’.
He set about selling most of the contents of the house and gardens at auction in 1832. Included in the sale was a huge dome conservatory designed by J. C. Louden (it was 60ft in diameter and 45ft in height). It had cost £8,000 to build but, a Mr Bentley, a brewer by trade, would buy it for a mere £1,450. The conservatory would eventually be sold to the Duke of Devonshire.
By the time Beaumont retired in 1837 the money amassed from the auction would be used to revitalise Bretton Hall. He, and later his son, Wentworth Blackett Beaumont, would make considerable improvements to the house and grounds. But hard times were around the corner.
In the 1850s he had to reduce rents to his tenant farmers followed later by mineral rents. In the 1880s the leases on his Northumberland lead mines expired and lands in the outlying Yorkshire villages had to be sold to generate income. Wentworth Blackett Beaumont would later become Baron Allendale of Allendale and Hexham in 1907.
The Beaumont’s long association with Bretton Hall would end in 1947.
Blackett Beaumont’s son, Wentworth Henry Canning Beaumont (the 2nd Viscount Allendale), decided the ravages of the first part of the 20th century had taken their toll.
The War Office had used the house from 1939 and, presumably, the cost of renovating the house was too much.
The panelling from the Henry VIII parlour was given to Leeds Council and would later be moved to Temple Newsam.
At a time when many stately homes were lost to demolition it is a credit that Beaumont navigated a sale to Alec Clegg at West Riding County Council.
Beaumont finally left Bretton behind and moved back to the family home at Bywell Hall.
Bretton College opened in 1949 and would continue as a teacher training college, and then as an institution for design, music and performing arts, for the next 52 years.
In the 1960s accommodation blocks were built to house the students who had to remain on site in such a remote location. In 1969 it would gain recognition as a location for the Ken Russell film, Women in Love.
The cost of maintaining the house eventually proved too burdensome and, in 2001, it was deemed that Bretton College was financially unviable. A merger was negotiated with the University of Leeds and it became a campus until its closure in 2007.
The current owner of Bretton Hall is Wakefield Council. It has maintained and secured Bretton for the past seven years but the hall stands vacant overlooking the busy M1 motorway.
The parkland is now the popular Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the former deer park is Bretton Country Park. The past development of accommodation and car parks for the college and multiple use as a country park, as well as general neglect, resulted in a fragmented layout of the grounds.
In 2009 it was designated ‘At Risk’ by English Heritage but a successful conservation plan has resulted in a significantly improved landscape. Only the annexes, extensions and sixties hostel blocks blight the scene. Once these have been cleared Bretton can once again breathe and bask in its glory.
There are plans to convert the grade 2* listed Georgian house into a luxury hotel – project title The Bretton – with Rushbond PLC gaining planning permission in April 2013.
The house will have 77 rooms with 120 more added in due course. Alongside will be 39,000 square feet of office space. The student blocks from 1962 will thankfully be demolished.
We have already seen that conversion to hotel use can prolong the life of a country house indefinitely.
Bretton Hall could be the best of all, with close linking routes to Leeds and Sheffield, but the cost of conversion is likely to be excessive.
With no takers so far, one wonders whether it is too much of an undertaking for it to ever happen. In the meantime, Bretton Hall stands lonely and pitiful in its Yorkshire surroundings.
Bretton Hall, Beaumont Drive, West Bretton, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF4 4JT