RUDDING PARK

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Rudding Park, Yorkshire

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.

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Milnsbridge House

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.

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The private chapel at Rudding Park


‘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.

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Everard Radcliffe

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

BRETTON HALL

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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.

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Plans of the Bretton Conservatory

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.

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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.

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The 1960s accommodation blocks to the right

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

LITTLE PONTON HALL

Little Ponton Hall
Little Ponton Hall, Lincolnshire (Lincolnshire Life)

Built: 1725 with later additions
Architect: Unknown
Owner: The McCorquodale family
Grade II listed

Small country house and service range with yard. Early C18, late C18, early C19 alterations and additions. 1864 alterations. Squared limestone rubble with ashlar quoins, ashlar, slate roofs with stone coped gables, moulded ashlar gable and ridge stacks. 2 storey plus attics, 8 bay south front arranged 3:3:2, the central 3 bays project slightly with first floor band. (Historic England)

This small country house is the last house belonging to the important Turnor family who were huge Lincolnshire landowners until the first part of the twentieth century. While the country seats at Panton Hall and Stoke Rochford Hall were sold off this house remained home to the last of the Turnor family until 2015.

While the Turnors occupied Little Ponton Hall from 1863 the house has a rich history going back even longer. For a time it belonged to the heraldic house of Fane/Vane whose descendants included the Earls of Westmorland and the Dukes of Cleveland.

The house was probably built for William Thorold, dated 1725, and later leased to Lord Widdrington. William Daye and Henry Pennyman were also owners with the latter altering the hall in the 18th century¹.

By 1831 Sir Charles Egleton Kent, 2nd Baronet, (1784-1834) was in residence. He was also occupier of Fornham Hall in Suffolk and died at Peterborough House in Fulham in December 1834, having survived his wife Lady Sophia Margaret Lygon (daughter of the Earl Beauchamp) by just three weeks. He was succeeded by his only child, Sir Charles William Kent, 3rd Baronet, (1819 -1848) a minor².

Little Ponton Hall was acquired by William Harry Vane (1766-1842). He had been the 3rd Earl of Darlington between 1792 and 1827 and the Marquess of Cleveland between 1827 and 1833. He was made the 1st Duke of Darlington in 1833. Vane had married Lady Katherine Powlett (1766-1807), second daughter of the 6th and last Duke of Bolton, in 1787. His second wife was Elizabeth Russell, the daughter of Robert Russell, a market gardener of Newton House in Yorkshire. They married in 1813 and spent most of their time at Raby Castle in Durham but Little Ponton Hall provided the perfect location for his love of fox hunting.

Following his death it would appear that the house remained within a different branch of the family. By 1856 it was under the guardianship of Vere Fane (1785-1863). He was the son of Henry Fane (1739-1802) and Anne Fane of Fulbeck Hall, near Grantham. His father was the second son of Thomas fane, 8th Earl of Westmorland, who had bequeathed him £1,000 in East India stocks.

Vere Fane, already a rich man, was a London banker and a long term partner at Praeds and Company, of 189 Fleet Street, from 1817 until his death. He had been MP for Lyme Regis between 1818 and 1826 and also benefited from compensation awarded to slave-owners for estates in Jamaica and Grenada. He married Elizabeth Chaplin, daughter of Charles Chaplin, of Blankney House, Lincolnshire, in 1815³.

Vere Fane’s daughter, Emily (1821-1893), married Colonel Edward Birch Reynardson (1812-1896) in 1849 and spent much of their time at Little Ponton Hall. They would later live at Rushington Manor, Totton, in Hampshire.

When Vere Fane died in 1863 he left effects under £20,000. In the same year Little Ponton Hall was purchased by the Turnor family who would remain until the present.

Little Ponton Hall (Grantham Matters)
Little Ponton Hall, Lincolnshire (Grantham Matters)

The first occupant was Philip Broke Turnor (1814-1882), the younger son of Edmund Turnor (1755-1829) of Stoke Rochford and Panton Hall, and brother of Christopher Turnor (1809-1886), who subsequently inherited the Turnor estates. It was Christopher Turnor who rebuilt Stoke Rochford Hall between 1841 and 1845.

Philip Broke Turnor and his wife moved into Little Ponton Hall shortly after Vere Fane’s death. Turnor had married Selina Laura Saunderson (1831-1901), daughter of Mr James Saunderson (the youngest son of Colonel Alexander Saunderson of Castle Saunderson in Ireland) in 1853.

Turnor had lived for many years at Newton House, near Folkingham, and spent his remaining 14 years at Little Ponton Hall. He died at the house in 1882 after a protracted illness. His widow remained at Little Ponton Hall and two years later married Major William Longstaffe in a ceremony at Stoke Rochford Church.

William Longstaffe (1831-1922) had been educated at Woolwich and served as Captain in the Royal North London Militia between 1855 and 1860. He also saw four years’ service during the Crimean War as well as being adjutant of the 2nd Volunteer Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment from 1880 to 1884. He became a JP for Kesteven and Chairman of the Grantham Board of Guardians and the Rural District Council.

He was a keen huntsman and ended up supporting the Belvoir Hounds for 50 years. Longstaffe’s contribution at Little Ponton Hall was extreme and despite the death of Selina, on holiday in Folkstone, in 1901, he remained at the house for most of his life. In his final years he suffered illness and moved to Stoke Rochford Hall where he died in 1922 aged 91.

His death came as an advantage for Captain Herbert Broke Turnor (1885-1979) who married Lady Enid Victoria Rachel Fane (1894-1969) in September 1922. Herbert Broke Turnor was the eldest son of Algernon Turnor (son of Christopher Turnor) and Lady Henrietta Turnor. The marriage marked the return of the Fane/Vane family to Little Ponton Hall. Lady Enid was the eldest daughter of the 13th Earl and Countess of Westmorland and widow of Major Henry Cecil Vane, eldest son of the 9th Lord Barnard, who had died from wounds sustained during World War One. Following their wedding at St Paul’s Knightsbridge the couple set up home at Little Ponton Hall.

Little Ponton Hall (The Blackberry Garden)
Little Ponton Hall, Lincolnshire (The Blackberry Garden)

Herbert Broke Turnor lived a leisurely life at Little Ponton Hall fulfilling his duties as a member of the West Kesteven Rural District Council and of the Spitalfields branch of magistrates. He was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Lincoln in 1939. However, his world irrevocably changed in 1940 following the death of his cousin Christopher Hatton Turnor (1873-1940). It meant the Turnor estates were now the responsibility of Herbert Broke Turnor and he faced some very tough decisions.

Christopher Hatton Turnor’s death saddled him with death duties amounting to £277,658. The huge bill was a hammer blow for the family. Panton Hall had been disposed of in 1917 and there was now the problem of what to do with Stoke Rochford Hall. For the duration of World War Two the army were in residence but the house was far too big and expensive to consider making it a family home again.

Herbert Broke Turnor made concessions and in 1941 wrote to the tenants of his North Lincolnshire estate, between Market Rasen and Grimsby, informing them that he had no course but to sell the land. The whole village of Kirmond-le-Mire was sold, together with farms and properties at Binbrook. Kirmond had belonged to the Turnors since the reign of Henry VIII and the auction raised £33,320. The following year he sold Sir Isaac Newton’s orchard, including the famous apple tree, at Woolsthorpe to the Royal Society at a price substantially less than its value.

Stoke Rochford Hall was let to Kesteven County Council in 1948 and finally sold to the National Union of Teachers in 1978. Little Ponton Hall was now the last remaining property belonging to the Turnor family and the only remnant of a once mighty Lincolnshire estate.

Herbert Broke Turnor died in 1979 and the estate, including Little Ponton Hall, passed to his daughter Rosemary Sybil Turnor (1924-2015). She had married Alistair McCorquadale (1925-2009) in 1947 and remained at Little Ponton Hall until her death.

Alistair McCorquadale had been educated at Harrow and was an acclaimed sportsman and athlete who lost out on a medal at the 1948 London Olympics after officials separated the 1000m finalists using photo finish technology. Following the Olympics he played cricket for Middlesex. McCorquadale was also an astute businessman and became Chairman of McCorquadale and Co in 1967. He retired in the mid-1980s and also sat on the boards of British Sugar and Guardian Royal Exchange as well as being a governor of Harrow School. He had been actively involved running the Turnor estates since 1954⁴.

He died in 2009 and the estate passed to Neil Edmund McCorquadale (b.1951) who married Lady Sarah Spencer (b.1955), the daughter of the 8th Earl Spencer, and sister of the late Diana, Princess of Wales. He was a former Coldstream Guards Officer before turning his attention to farming matters.

The death of his mother, Rosemary McCorquadale (the last of the Turnor family), in 2015 means Little Ponton Hall is now under his guardianship. The future of the house is uncertain but one can presume that it might become the new family home for the present generation. Little Ponton Hall remains in relative solitude save for a few days every spring when the gardens are open to the public to view the impressive snowdrop displays.

¹ Historic England
² Enniskillen Chronicle and Erne Packet (Thursday 18th December 1834)
³ The History of Parliament online
⁴ The Telegraph (13th March 2009)

Little Ponton Hall,
Little Ponton, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG33 5BS

ADDINGTON MANOR

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The original Addington Manor in Buckinghamshire

Built: 1856-1857. Demolished in 1928
Architect: Philip Charles Hardwick, later house by F.H. Clark
Private ownership

The house was built of brick with Bath stone quoins and dressings and heavy lead roofing, in the modified form of the French chateau style, with three lofty towers and fine conservatory.

Addington Manor was built by Philip Charles Hardwick (1822-1892) between 1856 and 1857. He was best known for designing the Doric Arch and Great Hall at Euston Station as well as the Great Western Hotel at Paddington Station.

Addington Manor was built for John Gellibrand Hubbard (1805-1889), City of London financier and Conservative politician, who had purchased the estate in 1854.  He would later become the 1st Baron Addington in 1887.

The house was built of brick with Bath stone quoins and dressings and heavy lead roofing, in the modified form of the French chateau style, with three lofty towers and fine conservatory.

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Philip Charles Hardwick

Round the great central tower were inscribed the words “Except the Lord build the house their labour is but lost that build it. Anno Domini 1857”. Over the library window, amid decorations of vine foliage and fruit, were the words “Dei Donum”. The third storey windows on the south and west sides of the mansion were crowned with the initials in monogram of the Lord and Lady Adlington (John Gellibrand Hubbard and the Hon Maria Margaret Hubbard), while on the north and south fronts of the building were to be seen the family crest and motto “Alta Petens”.

The decorator of the ceilings was Owen Jones, the beautiful ceiling of the oak hall being an exact copy of that in an older Addington Manor.

The family moved into Addington Manor in December 1858 and entertained many distinguished visitors , including the HRH the Duke of Connaught, the Princess Victoria Louise, Bishop Wilberforce, members of the Gladstone family and many prominent leaders of both Houses of Parliament.

The 2nd Baron Addington died in 1915 and during the First World War the house was let as a school.

In later years the house was occupied by Mrs Lawson-Johnston and family. After this the building was used as a guest house and hotel under the successive occupation of Mrs Hocker and Mr Gordon Holmes.

It was sold to Mr C B Smith-Bingham in 1926 who lived at the adjoining Addington House. He demolished the house in 1928 appointing Mr F H Clark of London and Coventry to oversee the work.

An auction sale to dispose of fittings and materials was held in June 1928 with a further auction a month later.

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Smith-Bingham turned to architect Michael Theodore Waterhouse (1889-1968) to replace the house with a smaller neo-Classical house (pictured below). This became a residence for the Czechoslovak Military Intelligence staff and their families during World War Two.

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The 1928 Addington Manor, Buckinghamshire

The house was eventually sold to Lord Inchcape who founded the Addington Manor Equestrian Centre on the estate.

Addington Manor,
Addington, Winslow, Buckinghamshire (now demolished)

LALEHAM ABBEY

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Built: 1803-1806, altered by Papworth in 1820s and 1830s
Architect: J.B. Papworth
Private apartments
Grade II* listed

Two storeys on basement, stucco 2:1:2 bays with altered sash windows; moulded cill strings, ground floor with brackets to windows. Greek fret cornice; blocking course, returned. Central bay has a Greek Doric portico with paired columns, steps to perron and half glazed door with enriched cornice. (Historic England)

Laleham Abbey, a Grade II* listed building was built in the Palladian style by renowned architect John Buanarotti Papworth (1775-1847) between 1803 and 1806. It was known at the time as Laleham Park but would soon become known as Laleham House.

The house is neo-Classical with a Doric portico. Inside are marble floors and columns, a semi-circular staircase and a cupola.

It was built as a second home for Richard Bingham, the 2nd Earl of Lucan (1764-1839). John Buanarotti Papworth was also responsible for alterations carried out on the house between 1827 and 1830.

Following the break-up of his marriage the 2nd Earl spent little time at Laleham House. He rented it to an exiled Queen Maria II of Portugal who lived here from 1829.

Following his death in 1839 the house passed to George Charles Bingham, the 3rd Earl of Lucan (1800-1888), who re-engaged John Buanarotti Papworth to complete further alterations including new stables and a farm.

George, an army officer, served in Turkey and the Crimea before reaching the rank of field-marshal. He commanded the cavalry in the Crimea and gave the much-disputed order for the historic advance of the Light Brigade at Balaclava, from which only 195 mounted men out of 673 returned.

Laleham House became the property of Charles George Bingham, the 4th Earl of Lucan (1830-1914), in 1888. Bingham was beset with financial problems for most of life and almost declared bankrupt in 1899 and 1913. He was seen to live a lifestyle that his income could no longer support. He raised money by selling large portions of the estate but it proved to be a miserable existence. However, he was a generous supporter of community affairs and gave Laleham land for use as a village hall and allowed the extension of the local church graveyard. He was also a friend of the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, who regularly visited the house.

The house was inherited by George Charles Bingham, the 5th Earl of Lucan (1860-1949). He’d taken control of the Lucan estates in 1900 but spent little time at Laleham House. In 1915, a year after his father’s death, he rented the house to the Grand Duke Michael of Russia and the Countess Torby for the summer.

The 5th Earl formed the Lucan Estates Company in 1925 who were keen to obtain much needed income from their assets. Laleham House was sold to Lord Churston in 1928.

John Reginald Lopes Yarde-Buller, 3rd Baron Churston (1873-1930) arrived at Laleham House a broken man.

A serious fire had destroyed his Lupton House in Devon in 1926 razing the house’s upper-storey and interior. Some of the family heirlooms, including valuable paintings and pictures, were saved and removed to adjacent stables. However, a second fire in 1928 meant these were also destroyed.

It is not improbable that Lord Churston bought the house and its contents outright. He would live at Laleham House for two years until his death in 1930.

In 1932 his son, Richard-Yarde-Buller, 4th Baron Churston, was reported to have sold valuable works of art at Christie’s. These were treasures originally bought by Lord Lucan for Laleham House.

Sometime after the death of Lord Churston the house was used by nuns of the Sisters of St Peter the Apostle, Westminster who used the house as a convent school. It was now that the house would be known as Laleham Abbey and most of the surrounding land used as a public park.

Laleham House was eventually purchased by a property developer and converted into private apartments in 1981.

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Note:
The Lucan family’s notoriety was renewed after the disappearance in 1974 of  Richard John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan. In June 1975, in his absence, a coroner’s jury found that he had murdered his children’s nanny, Sandra Rivett. There have been no confirmed sightings of Lord Lucan since his disappearance, and he was declared legally dead in February 2016.

Laleham Abbey,
Abbey Drive, Laleham, Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey, TW18 1SR

MINLEY MANOR

Minley Manor
Built 1858-1860
Currently unoccupied
Grade II* listed

Red brick with blue brick diaper work, limestone dressings and carved and moulded ornament, and knapped flint infill. Roofs are slate and lead and have brick and stone chimneystacks. The roof to the servant’s hall is clad in copper. (Historic England)

Minley Manor is a house built from the riches of the banking industry. It is typical of a large country house built from the excesses of Victorian wealth that would eventually become surplus to requirement between two World Wars.

This Grade II listed house was built between 1858 and 1860 by Henry Clutton (1819-1893) for Raikes Currie (1801-1881), a partner in the banking firm of Curries & Co and later with Glyn, Mills, Currie & Co. He was also a former MP for Northampton.

Currie commissioned Robert Toswill Veitch (1823-1885) to lay out the gardens. The house itself was built of red brick with stone dressings in an asymmetrical French Gothic style with very tall roofs. Mark Girouard would later describe the interiors as ‘more Jacobean and classical rather than Gothic.’

Minley Manor 5
Minley Manor in 1899

Minley Manor suffered a serious fire In January 1870 in which the south portion of the house and the clock tower were totally destroyed. A large portion of valuable furniture was lost having been moved to that part of the building where the fire originated, whilst the other portion was being renovated. The main part of the house managed to be saved through the endeavours of dragoons drafted in from the Royal Military College at Sandhurst.

The house was also the birthplace of British diplomat Sir Reginald Hoare in 1882. Various Prime Ministers stayed at the house as did Queen Victoria.

Bertram Wodehouse Currie (1827-1896), Raike’s son, inherited the house in 1884 and made a number of important additions.

Minley Manor 4
George Devey (1820-1886) (who had designed Coombe Warren for Bertram between 1868 and 1875) designed a chapel and orangery in 1886, the year of his death. Robert Veich and his landscaper Frederick William Meyer (1852-1906) also developed a winter garden, The Plain, extensions to the pleasure grounds and the Hawley Lake to the east.

Bertram had followed in his father’s footsteps and would also become a partner in Glyn, Mills, Currie & Co as well as being a member of the India Council. During the Barings Bank crisis in 1890 his expertise was called upon to work with Benjamin Buck Greene of the Bank of England to investigate the disastrous affairs of the bank..

After his death in 1896 the house passed to his son Laurence Currie (1867-1934) who made a number of modifications to the house and grounds. He employed Devey’s chief draughtsman Arthur Castings (1853-1913) to build new lodges, a water tower and a complex of walled gardens.

In 1933 Minley Manor was once again threatened by fire but this time it was due to a massive blaze that devastated more than five miles of wooded countryside between Blackwater and Hartley Wintney. More than a thousand soldiers joined fire brigades from Camberley, Frimley Green, Windlesham, Fleet, Bagshot and Hartley Witney. At one stage flames leapt 50 feet from blazing fir trees but they managed to save Minley Manor and also Elvetham Hall, the home of Sir Fitzroy Anstruther Gough-Calthorpe.

Laurence Currie died in 1934 but his son and successor Bertram Francis George Currie (1899-1959) had plans elsewhere. In 1936 he sold Minley Manor and its 2,500 acre estate to the War Office and moved to Dingley Hall in Northamptonshire.

Minley Manor became the Senior Wing of the Staff College at nearby Camberley. It was officially opened in January 1939 by Major General the Duke of Gloucester and was home to officers from the British Army, the Indian Army, Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the Royal Air Force and a number of Dominion regiments.

Minley Manor 1
After 1971 it was used as an Officers’ Mess for the Royal School of Military Engineering (the Royal Engineers) units at Gibraltar Barracks. The house was also used for military weddings but became empty in August 2013 when a new mess was built at the barracks.

Minley Manor was also used as the backdrop for the 1969 film Mosquito Squadron and Stardust, featuring Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro.

As part of the Government requirement for estate rationalisation, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) sold Minley Manor in 2014 for a figure exceeding the £5 million guide price. The new owner is understood to be an international investor but plans for the house are yet to be revealed.

Note: In 1864 the banking firm of Glyn, Mills & Co acquired the business of Curries & Co and was renamed Glyn, Mills, Currie & Co. The company would eventually absorb further banks until the company was acquired by the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1939. The brand survived as Glyn, Mills & Co until 1969 when RBS decided to bring together three businesses – Williams Deacon’s Bank, Glyn Mills & Co and the English and Welsh branches of the National Bank. The new company was renamed Williams & Glyn which lasted until 1985 before being rebranded as the Royal Bank of Scotland. The name was due to be revived in 2016 when RBS branches in England and Wales were reported to become Williams & Glyn once again. However, the planned re-branding failed to materialise.

Minley Manor,
Minley Road, Blackwater, Hampshire, GU17 9JT

COOMBE WARREN

Coombe warren 3
Built 1865. Rebuilt in 1870. Demolished in 1926.

Coombe Hill is the estate and hinterland to the demolished Coombe Warren, containing several mid 19th century properties by the architect George Devey, and other large interesting 20th century houses in a spacious landscaped setting, adjoining Coombe Hill Golf Course.  Coombe Hill estate today consists of Coombe Hill Road and cul-de-sacs such as Greenwood Park and Devey Close; and neighborhoods along Warren Road, George Road and Golf Club Drive. (The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames)

Coombe Warren, demolished 1926, stood on land that was once owned by the Duke of Cambridge. When the Duke proceeded to sell up parcels of the land it was the rich and noble that proved to be eager buyers.

Between them they created a number of grand houses and country estates on a pleasant Surrey hillside. Today, with these estates further split, the land on Coombe Park private estate is still regarded as one of the most affluent parts of London.

Coombe Warren was built by architect George Devey in 1865 for Bertram Wodehouse Currie (1827-1896).

Coombe Warren (St Croix Architecture)
The original Coombe Warren built in 1865

Bertram Currie was the second son of Raikes Currie of Minley Manor in Hampshire. He had entered his father’s banking business which in 1864 was amalgamated with the firm of Glyn, Mills and Company to become Glyn, Mills, Currie and Company.

Currie’s increase in wealth and status meant he was able to invest his money in a new home suitable for a man of his position. He turned to George Devey to build a mansion in which he and his wife Caroline, daughter of Sir William Lawrence Young 4th Baronet, could live in comfort.

George Devey
The architect George Devey (1820-1886)

His joy in the new house would be short-lived. In 1870 a series of disasters befell the Currie family.

In January a fire destroyed the south portion of his father’s house at Minley Manor. A few weeks later a similar fate occurred at Coombe Warren.

On a Saturday night a fire was discovered in a room near the kitchen. The Kingston Fire Brigade were called but were hampered by a limited supply of water. It was two hours after the fire started that water was put on the blaze. In the interim the fire brigade attempted to cut off communication between the main house and a new wing that had just been built.

The Surrey Comet reported that ‘the family being away, there was no one to authorise the breaking of the windows so as to get out the valuable paintings, choice old china, and articles of vertu with which the residence abounded’.

With a pay out from the Sun fire office Bertram Currie asked George Devey to build a replacement mansion.

The house of 1870 was rebuilt on a much bigger scale, and to a somewhat different design. The house was located in the triangle between modern-day Coombe Lane, Beverley Lane and Coombe Hill Road.

Coombe Warren (St Croix Architecture)
Coombe Warren. Rebuilt after a disastrous fire in 1870

Mark Girouard said it was one of Devey’s “most elaborate and best-known houses, in a mixture of stone, brick, plaster and half-timbering, with numerous shaped brick gables of Betteshanger type.

“The typical disjointed plan of the 1870 house, with the service wings stretching out in a series of zig-zags from the main block, was anticipated in simpler form in the first design. The interior was decked with elaborate Jacobean decoration.”

The house had large formal gardens with orangery and a temple to William Ewart Gladstone. The Prime Minister was a frequent visitor to Coombe Warren and spent long spells as the guest of Bertram Currie. The house was once used for a cabinet meeting when Gladstone was ‘temporarily disposed’.

Bertram Woodhouse Currie
Bertram Woodhouse Currie (1827-1896)

Before we close the door on Bertram we must record his banking achievement.

In 1885 Currie persuaded his bank to form a joint stock company with unlimited liability and became the first of the private banks to ever publish its balance sheet.

However, his greatest achievement was in 1890, on the occasion of the famous Barings crisis.

Currie was selected for his known friendship of his neighbour, Edward Baring, 1st Baron Revelstoke.  At the insistence of William Lidderdale, the Governor of the Bank of England, Currie worked with Benjamin Buck Greene to negotiate a solution to the banking crisis.

Between them they persuaded the directors of the bank to undertake the liquidation of their estate on the security of a guarantee to be obtained from the bankers of London.

Barings Bank headed this guarantee fund with £1,000,000 and Currie followed with £500,000 from his own bank. During one famous day, November 14th 1890, the private banks, including the Rothchilds, contributed an amount totalling £3,500,000 and, with the assistance of joint stock banks and county banks, the total eventually rose to £18,000,000. Currie had been instrumental in saving the British banking system.

In 1895 Currie developed cancer of the tongue which spread to the glands of his neck. He died a year later at his house at Richmond Terrace in Whitehall.

The house was sold by Bertram Currie’s grandson and redeveloped in 1926. The main house was demolished and only the garden walls and lodge survive today. The estate itself was sold off in smaller parcels of land and many houses in the area today can still boast structural remnants from Coombe Warren in their gardens.

Coombe Warren Lodge (British Listed Buildings)
Still standing. Coombe Warren Lodge once stood at the entrance to the house

The adjacent Coombe House (previously Coombe Cottage) of about 1863, with additions of 1870-1874, still survives. This was built for Currie’s neighbour Edward C. Baring (later Lord Revelstoke) of Baring’s Bank, with a tower and gables of different sizes. Coombe Cottage was far from ‘cottagey’ boasting 60 bedrooms.

Coombe House
Coombe House

Queen Victoria visited and on occasions stayed as the guest of Edward Baring and of the widowed Empress Eugenie whilst a resident during part of 1881 – 1882. Dame Nellie Melba, a famous operatic soprano but perhaps more famous for having the dish ‘Peach Melba’ named after her, lived at Coombe Cottage in 1906.

When there was a threat of a railway being built nearby it was sold to the rail company but the line was never built. The house later became Rediffusion Engineering and is now split into apartments.

Nearby Warren House on Warren Road was built in the 1860s by George Mansfield for the banker Hugh Hammersley.

WarrenHouse
Warren House

George Grenfell Glyn (1824-1887), the second Baron Wolverton, and a partner in Glyn, Mills, Currie and Co, bought the house and land in 1884 and commissioned George Devey to make large additions to the house and gardens. Wolverton served in all three of Gladstone’s Liberal governments and regularly entertained him at Warren House.

Country houses with a story to tell

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