Tag Archives: Country House

HAINTON HALL

A house that has changed significantly as the result of two fires within five years and the need to downsize.

Hainton Hall has been in the Heneage family for some four centuries or so. The mansion has undergone many accidents and alterations, with contributions from architects Peter Atkinson, William Burn and James Hemmings. Image: Market Raisen Mail.

Hainton Hall stands on the Lincolnshire Wolds between Lincoln and Louth, and about seven miles south-west of Market Rasen. The mansion we see today looks very different to the one that stood here one hundred years ago. It was a large and handsome mansion standing in a well-wooded park of 145 acres, and the seat of the Heneage family since the reign of Henry III.

The hall was built in 1638 with later additions, and a rebuilding and raising of the west wing, and the facing of the whole house in stucco, by Peter Atkinson in 1809. A porch was added by William Burn in 1875.

However, a series of events in the first part of the twentieth century means that its modern appearance looks remarkably different.

In June 1919, a fire broke out at Hainton Hall, where Edward Heneage, 1st Baron Heneage (1840-1922) had just recovered from an illness that had lasted two months. He and Lady Eleanor Heneage, as well as a full complement of domestic staff, were in residence when the blaze was discovered.

The fire occurred on the afternoon of Sunday 8 June and the estate fire brigade had started tackling the flames before summoning fire brigades from Lincoln, Wragby and Grimsby. As was often the case the firemen were faced with the difficult task of securing ample water supplies, the only immediate source being from a small fishpond on the estate.

The firemen made strenuous efforts to overtake the already serious advance made by the fire, but the flames had made such headway that one wing of the mansion was very soon destroyed.

All available help was used to rescue furniture and valuables from inside, and these were carried out onto the lawn.

The fire was eventually brought under control around midnight. The firemen had successfully saved the south and west fronts, but the east wing, consisting of the servants’ quarters, had been lost.

It was later thought that a carelessly thrown peace celebration firework was responsible for the fire.

Although there were no casualties amongst its residents, a Grimsby fireman, Albert Barcroft, was killed when he was pinned beneath half a ton of falling debris, and one of his colleagues, William Watkins, injured by the fire.

In the aftermath, Lord Heneage contributed £500 towards the support of the dead fireman’s widow and children, the Grimsby Fire Brigade Committee stating that £1,100 was available to the dependants. As a sequel to the fire, it later decided to insure its firemen against fatal accidents .

A view of the crowd at the Conservative Rally at Hainton Hall in July 1927. It appears that the house had been restored after a second fire a few years earlier. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

Hainton Hall was rebuilt by Lord Heneage in two rather than the original four storeys. He died in 1922, and by remarkable misfortune the mansion was to catch fire again in July 1924.

The outbreak was discovered in a suite of bedrooms by a maid-servant, probably caused by fused electrical wiring, and the estate fire appliances (that had been brought up to date since the fire of 1919) set to work. Unfortunately, they were inadequate to cope with the flames, and by the time the Lincoln Fire Brigade arrived an hour later the building was once again a mass of flames.

On this occasion, the new Lord Heneage, George Edward Heneage (1866-1954), was away at the Lincolnshire Show, a guest of Lord Yarborough, and returned immediately.

People from all over the district, attracted by clouds of dense smoke, arrived to render assistance in once again rescuing priceless art treasures and antique furniture and piling them high on the lawn. Lord Heneage, accompanied by his cousin, Lieut-Col A.P. Heneage, superintended the collection of articles.

This low-quality image of the west front at Hainton Hall appeared shortly after the fire of 1924 and the removal of most of the debris. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

The damage was reported to run at ‘something like’ £25,000, the whole of the principal rooms completely gutted, and the ceiling of the drawing-room destroyed by water. An attempt to remove valuable books from the library had been abandoned because the roof had started to fall in, and molten lead was dripping from above. Ironically, the books were later found to be undamaged. Even though the library itself was saturated, the heavily recessed bookcases had saved most of the collection.

The dining-room had escaped damage but not so the Adam ceiling in the drawing-room where cracks had appeared in the delicate white and gold traceries.

The great Conservative Rally at Hainton Hall, being addressed by the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, in July 1927. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

The priceless collection of family portraits, going back to the sixteenth century, had suffered not so much from the fire itself, but as from moisture and the hasty way in which the pictures were carried to the lawn. Many were mottled by damp and others scratched or marked. A picture of Lord Heneage’s grandfather, presented by the tenantry in 1855, had a hole right through the canvas.

In a bizarre set of circumstances, sightseers flooded from all over the county to gain a glimpse of the hall, and for two days Lord Heneage threw the grounds open.

When the second Lord Heneage died in 1954 the estate passed to the nine-year-old James Neil Heneage from another branch of the family. During his minority the trustees demolished the east wing in 1956 and removed the top storey of the central block (even though it had been listed in 1952).  

In 1957 parts of the estate in Legsby, Barkwith, Torrington and Willingham were sold off largely to pay death duties.

Hainton Hall was reduced in size during the 1970s and its appearance significantly altered. Image: Parks and Gardens.

When James Heneage came of age and inherited the estate, he commissioned the architect W. H. Hemmings to rebalance the external appearance of the Hall, the work being completed in 1975. 

This photograph was taken in 1976. The top storey had been removed and the external appearance altered by W.H. Hemmings.

MAMHEAD HOUSE

This country house, described as “one of the finest houses in the South of England” was Anthony Salvin’s first major commission.

The magnificent Mamhead house which dominates the East Devon coastline has a rich and interesting history. Image: Strutt & Parker.

Mamhead House, in the Haldon Hills, Devon, is one of those country houses that hasn’t been able to find its identity in recent times. For many years we have known this Grade I-listed Tudor-Gothic property as Mamhead Park, and it has just been launched on the market at Strutt & Parker, price on application.

The impressive late Georgian country house that today stands overlooking the dramatic scenery of the coast was built in 1833, replacing a much older house. Image: Strutt & Parker.

This is one of many houses that has stood on the estate. Mentioned in the Domesday Book, the estate passed through several distinguished families. In 1547 it was bought by the Balle family. In 1672, Peter Balle, an attorney to Queen Henrietta Mara, was awarded a baronetcy for his services. Later, William of Orange billeted his supporters on the estate. It passed into the hands of the Earl of Lisburne who sold it to Robert William Newman, MP, in 1822.

The imposing home was designed by celebrated English architect Anthony Salvin. An architect who was renowned for his expertise on medieval buildings and restored many castles and churches. Image: Dartmoor Archive.

Robert Newman was a senior partner of Newman and Co, general merchants of Dartmouth. Originally Hunt, Newman, Roope, Teague and Co, the company had buccaneered out to Newfoundland, and commenced selling salted codfish to Portugal in the 1500s, encountering wines of that country through bartering fish for wine. In time, the company built up its own shipping fleet.

Newman’s family motto ‘Ubi amor ibi fides’ (where there is love there is trust) is exquisitely carved above the grand front door. Image: Dartmoor Archive.

When Robert Newman bought Mamhead Park for £106,000 the original house was built on low-ground, without the views across the Exe Estuary. He turned to Charles Fowler, an architect born in Cullompton and articled in Exeter, who produced several E-shaped plans for his client. Fowler probably intended to rebuild Mamhead Park on the site of the existing house. Alas, Newman rejected each plan, excited by new building styles and preferring a new house about 400 yards up a hill to the west of the old mansion.

The classically proportioned house has played host to a great many kings, queens and distinguished royals from around the world. Queen Adelaide even had her own private bedroom, now entitled the Queen’s Room. Image: Dartmoor Archive.

Newman instead gambled on Anthony Salvin, an aspiring young architect, who grasped his first major commission. Built of mellow Bath stone, Salvin retained one of Fowler’s original ground plans into the design and construction commenced in 1827 and the shell completed by the following year. It was a slow-build. The new house was funded out of Newman’s income and its interiors weren’t completed until 1833.

The beautiful building boasts a glorious facade constructed out of mellow Bath stone and is made up of ornate stone carvings and towering chimneys. Image: Strutt & Parker.

Mamhead Park was a ‘marriage house’ for his new bride, Mary, and one befitting a man of his status. Robert Newman had become MP for Exeter in 1818 and became a baronet in 1836.

He was succeeded by his son, Captain. Sir Robert Lydston Newman, who was killed at the Battle of Inkerman in November 1854, and Mamhead passed to his brother, Sir Lydston Newman, whose son, a prominent churchman, was created Lord Mamhead in 1931.

He died unmarried in 1945, leaving life tenancy of the estate to his brother-in-law, Frederick Lumley.

The romance of the place is unquestionable even from afar and only grows as we encounter the beautifully restored wood panelling, fine plaster work and beautiful stained glass—designed by Thomas Willement, heraldic artist to William IV— of the interiors. Image: Strutt & Parker.

On succeeding in 1948, Sir Ralph Newman, great-grandson of the first baronet, was able to buy back furnishings but eventually abandoned the idea of living on a grand scale.

In 1954, he sold the estate, but retained the house and 20 acres, choosing to let the fully furnished property to an evangelical organisation. Mamhead was sold to Dawlish College for Boys in 1963 and was acquired by a property company in 1988, who converted the house and stables into offices, at one time occupied by the Forestry Commission.

The property seems to have a natural flow as we are transported from beautiful room to beautiful room; some of the most impressive being the oak room, dining room, library and drawing rooms. Image: Strutt & Parker.

Mamhead Park returned to private use in 2000 and twelve years later was bought by a group of overseas investors, headed by Richard Fuller, for £8 million.

After considering various uses, including an ill-fated wedding business, the mansion is once again available to buy.

The property also features a music room, summer dining room, sitting room, study, snooker room and snug, Image: Strutt & Parker.

The sale also includes Grade II*-listed Mamhead Castle, also designed by Salvin as stables at the same time as the big house, a copy of a pele tower at 14th century Belsay Castle in Northumberland, and currently providing six office suites.  

One of the most intriguing things about Mamhead though is the fact that it has its own Grade II listed castle on the grounds. Believed to be an architectural copy of Belsay Castle in Northumberland, the astonishing building is constructed of local red sandstone in the baronial Gothic style and was originally used as stabling and a brewery. Image: Strutt & Parker.

LYPIATT PARK

One hundred years ago. The mid-Gloucester correspondent for the Cheltenham Chronicle reported that the whole of the Lypiatt Estate had been sold by private treaty and that the new owner intended to take up residence soon.

Lypiatt Park - Country Life (1)
Lypiatt Park, Gloucestershire. Image: Country Life.

“There is much historical lore surrounding the fine old Elizabethan mansion. The mansion has been in the hands of faithful servants since the death of Lady Dorington, and it is hoped that with the advent of a new owner some of the former glories of Lypiatt will be revived.”

The house was Lypiatt Park, mostly of the 16th century, once belonging to Throckmorton, of Gunpowder Plot fame. A west tower and crenelated parapet were added by Jeffry Wyatville as part of his works of 1809-1815. An extension was added by Thomas Henry Wyatt in 1877 for Sir John Edward Dorington, a Conservative politician. He died in 1911 and his widow had been in failing health until her own death in 1913.

Lypiatt Park - Hetty Hikes (1)
Lypiatt Park, Gloucestershire. Image: Hetty Hikes.

The house and most of the estate was bought by Walter John Gwyn in 1919 and occupied by his sister and brother-in-law, Judge Hubert Bayley Drysdale Woodcock. However, the house was later leased to Barbara Grace Talbot, widow of Major John Talbot, until her death in 1938. It is debatable how long Walter Gwyn spent at Lypiatt Park, but he was certainly resident here from 1939 alongside the Woodcocks.

Gwyn died in 1940 and Judge Woodcock remained here with his daughter until it was sold in the early 1950s. Falling into a state of disrepair it was bought by the Modernist sculptor Lynn Chadwick (1914-2003) who restored the house, and which remains in the family.

Lypiatt Park - South Cotswold Ramblers (1)
Lypiatt Park, Gloucestershire. Image: South Cotswold Ramblers.

SINGLETON ABBEY

On this day, one hundred years ago, the Daily Express reported that Lord Swansea had decided to sell his ancestral home, Singleton Abbey, Swansea, owing to rates, taxes and the general increase of the cost of upkeep.

Singleton Abbey - The Penny Illustrated Paper - June 11 1887 - BNA
During the 19th century, Swansea became a major centre of industry and commerce, its port a gateway to the world. There were opportunities for shrewd-minded entrepreneurs (many from outside Wales) to cash in on the economic boom, among them the Vivian family from Truro in Cornwall. Already with major investments in the Cornish copper trade, in 1809 John Vivian established the Hafod copper works and subsequently created the company Vivian and Sons. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

The whole estate of 250 acres and the mansion, with its priceless contents of 70 fully furnished rooms was going to auction.

“I don’t want to do it,” said Lord Swansea, “but it is a sad necessity. To keep up the place as I should like would entail £100,000 a year, and I have not the means to do it. That accounts for my living away from Swansea so largely. It will be a great wrench to part with the place, but it is inevitable.”

Singleton Abbey - Coflein (1)
In 1817, John Henry Vivian, purchased Marino, an octagonal neo-classical villa, and went about enlarging the original house into a mansion befitting his new wealth and growing social status. The house grew over the following two decades into the building in the photograph. “Marino” became “Singleton Abbey” in 1832. Image: Coflein.

The nucleus of the house was built in 1784 by Edward King, a customs official. In 1817 it was bought by the industrialist John Henry Vivian who extended the house and later engaged architect Peter Frederick Robinson to re-model it in neo-gothic style.

Singleton Abbey - Coflein (2)
Before 1851 the stables and coach house were added and minor works were carried out in 1887 for visit of Prince of Wales. A major fire in 1896 resulted in some rebuilding. Image: Coflein.

Ernest Vivian, 2nd Baron Swansea, sold Singleton Abbey to Swansea Corporation for £115,000 in July 1919, and died three years later.

The council wanted to develop the estate largely for housing purposes and gifted the mansion to the Swansea University College in 1923 – still used today as offices for Swansea University on its Singleton Park campus.

Singleton Abbey - Coflein (3)
The London architect, P. F. Robinson (1776-1858) was well-known at the time for his ‘Designs for Ornamental Villas’ and other pattern book publications. Image: Coflein.

Swansea_University_Singleton_Abbey
Singleton Abbey, and a portion of the estate, became part of the University College of Swansea during the 1920s. It now houses many of the administrative offices of Swansea University.

WILMONT HOUSE

The descendants of  Sir Thomas and Lady Edith Dixon look on with anguish, as this Victorian country house, gifted to the people of Belfast in the 1950’s, falls into ruin.

Wilmont House - Belfast City Council
Wilmont House is a house of 1859 in a demesne established in 1740. Since 1959 the demesne has been subdivided, part being given to Belfast City Council for public recreation as the Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park. Image: Belfast City Council.

Back in April 1956, the gift of Wilmont House, at Dunmurry, Co Antrim, might have seemed a blessing to Belfast Corporation. Lady Edith Dixon offered Wilmont and its 140 acres of land to the city, with the wish that it be used as a hospital, convalescent home or home for old people, and that the lands be used as a public park. The old lady was winding down her affairs, the only other stipulation was that she be able to occupy the house and lands for her lifetime, thereafter they should be managed by the Corporation for “the greatest good of the citizens of the city.”

Lady Edith died in 1964 and her wishes were granted. Wilmont House became a home for the elderly, a role it carefully fulfilled until closure in 1992. However, by now the old house was less of a good thing, and more of a burden for Belfast City Council.

Wilmont House - Lord Belmont in Northern Ireland (1)
The present house was built in 1859 to the design of Thomas Jackson for James Bristow, a director of the Northern Banking Company. Image: Lord Belmont in Northern Ireland.

By 2013, Wilmont House had been used for occasional events, as a parks office for the council and briefly as the headquarters for the Belfast Marathon. A proposal for a seven-year refurbishment was rejected, the house was too expensive to maintain, and the only viable option might have been to hand back Wilmont to the Dixon family.

Six years later, the situation hasn’t changed. Wilmont House has deteriorated, windows are broken and boarded-up, and the Grade B1 listed former country house is designated a ‘Building at Risk.’

Wilmont House - Belfast Telegraph (1)
“Sadly what we look at now bears little resemblance to what the house was in its heyday. It’s boarded up, windows are broken, and it stands in a place of such beauty that it’s disappointing to see all the history of the house.” – Andrew Dixon. Image: Belfast Telegraph.

Its sorry condition hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Dixon family. This week the Belfast Telegraph reports that Andrew Dixon (58), a great, great nephew of Lady Edith, has told Belfast City Council that it should make “alternative arrangements” if it cannot look after the stately home in its most famous park. ‘The family has watched on in horror as the derelict house in the grounds of Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park in south Belfast has gradually decayed since it was handed over to the council by his great, great aunt.’

It is suggested that discussions took place at Belfast City Council several years ago on the future of Wilmont House during which it was suggested the Dixon family should be contacted to discuss its future. According to Andrew Dixon that call never came.

The situation at Wilmont House is no different to many other country houses that ended up in the care of local authorities. A recent Country Life article on Oldway Mansion at Paignton, in Devon, reads remarkably similar, although on a grander scale.

Wilmont House - Albert Bridge (1)
The present Wilmont House is the second of that name to stand on this site. The original Wilmont was built c. 1740 by William Stewart, son of John Stewart of Ballydrain. Image: Albert Bridge.

Wilmont House was one of three houses that belonged to the Dixon family – the others being Drumadarragh House and Cairndhu, also in Co Antrim. Drumadarragh remains in the family, the seat of Lord and Lady Glentoran, but Mr Dixon fears that Wilmont might go the same way as Cairndhu in Larne, another property gifted by the family, presented to the Northern Ireland Hospitals Authority in 1947, which now lies in ruins.

Andrew Dixon might be frustrated by events at Wilmont, but Belfast City Council remains restrained over the situation. “We’re currently preparing an invitation for expressions of interest to go to the market to seek a suitably qualified developer for the restoration and regeneration of Wilmont House, to bring it into a new use. As part of this, we’re pursuing efforts to get in touch and engage with the beneficiaries of the will of Lady Dixon.”

For now,  Wilmont House is surplus to requirement and only time will see how it emerges from a distinctly despondent period.

Wilmont House - Lisburn-com (1)
The architect chosen to design the new Wilmont was an up-and-coming young Waterford man, Thomas Jackson (1807-1890), whose Belfast Buildings included the Museum Building in College Square North, and St. Malachy’s Roman Catholic Church, Alfred Street. Image: Lisburn.com.

The house was built in 1859, ‘a plain two-storey red-brick Victorian house, with a three-bay front and balustraded porch.’ It replaced a 1740 property built for William Stewart, the son of John Stewart of Ballydrain, an important farming family.

In 1855, the estate had been sold to Alexander Mackenzie Shaw, a Belfast brewer, but he was quickly forced to sign over the property to the Northern Banking Company in lieu of debts of £12,505. About 1858, it became the property of James Bristow (1796-1866), a director of the aforesaid bank, who demolished the run-down old house and substituted it with the present mansion designed by Thomas Jackson, one of Belfast’s outstanding architects.

James Bristowe - Lisburn-com (1)
James Bristow. Image: Lisburn.com.

According to historian Eileen Black, Wilmont House was really a house of two-halves. One part was occupied by James Bristow, the other by his son, James Thomson Bristow (1827-1877), another banker.

James Thomson Bristowe - Lisburn-com (1)
James Thomson Bristow. Image: Lisburn.com.

Following J. T. Bristow’s death in 1877 the estate passed to his trustees, William Laird of Birkenhead, and his brother, Samual Smith Bristow of Liverpool, and was sold in 1879 to Robert Henry Sturrock Reade (1873-1913), of the York Street Flax Spinning Company. After his death, Wilmont passed to his son George who sold it to Sir Thomas and Lady Edith Dixon in 1919.

Robert Henry Sturrock Reade - Lisburn-com (1)
Robert Henry Sturrock Reade. Image: Lisburn.com.

Sir Thomas Dixon (1868-1950), Privy Councillor for Northern Ireland, and a well-known figure in Irish and British racing circles, belonged to a family of shipowners and timber merchants who had been among the founders of modern Belfast.

His father, Sir Daniel Dixon, 1st Baronet, was the first Lord Mayor of Belfast and MP for North Belfast, half-brother to Lord Glentoran, president of the Ulster Unionist Council.

Thomas Dixon entered the business of his father, Thomas Dixon & Sons, timber merchants, and owners of the Lord Line Shipping Company of which he was a director. On the death of his father in 1907 he became managing director, a position in which he remained until the closing of the firm in 1938. (He was also a director of the York Street Flax Spinning Company).

When Larne was created a Borough in 1939, Sir Thomas was elected its first Mayor. He was a Senator until 1949, was a member of the Ulster Unionist Council from its inception and was appointed to the Privy Council in 1930.

He died in Harrogate in 1950 and was survived by Lady Edith Dixon (1871-1964), formerly Miss Edith Stewart Clark, daughter of Stewart Clark, of Cairndhu, and Dundas Castle, South Queensferry, whom he married in 1906.

Lord and Lady Dixon - Lisburn-com (1)
Sir Thomas and Lady Edith Dixon. Image: Lisburn.com.

Lady Dixon was appointed a Dame of the British Empire in June 1921, in recognition of her valuable work on behalf of all the services during World War One.

For the time being, Wilmont House must live with its memories. To the time when Captain Robert Falcon Scott, the famous Antarctic explorer, visited during his stay in Belfast in 1904. To 1934, when it became the temporary residence of the Governor of Northern Ireland when Government House at Hillsborough was damaged by fire, and to the Second World War when it was the headquarters of the American Army in Northern Ireland.

The last word goes to Andrew Dixon and the uncertainty over Belfast City Council’s ownership of the property: –

“They have said they would like to talk to the family. I have plenty of ideas on how it could be used and surely that’s more preferable than letting it go to ruin. I and my father Robin Dixon, Baron Glentoran, have already watched how another of the properties at Cairndhu in Larne has been handled and I would hate to see Wilmont House go the same way,” he said.

drumbe65
Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, was a guest in 1935, during Sir Thomas Dixon’s period as His Majesty’s Lieutenant. During World War II, the house served as the Northern Ireland headquarters of the United States Army. Image: drumbe65.

HADDON HALL

From the archives. January 1926. Haddon Hall had been unoccupied for nearly one hundred and fifty years. The new Duke of Rutland made it his duty to restore the old house and make it habitable again. 

Haddon Hall - Jan 15 1927 - BNA (1)
After being unused for a hundred and forty-seven years, the historical old mansion was being altered so as once more to become the habitable seat of the Rutland family. This drawing was by R. G. Mathew. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

It was stated in the press that Haddon Hall, in Derbyshire, one of the most interesting and attractive manorial residences in England, was going to be closed to the public, who had long enjoyed the privilege of visiting it.

Its owner, the Duke of Rutland, whose ancestor, the third Duke, had been its last tenant about a hundred and fifty years before, was preparing it for occupation.

Haddon Hall - The Sketch - Jan 28 1903 - BNA (5)
“All is silent, within and around; The ghostly house and the ghostly trees.”

It was from Haddon Hall that the famous elopement of Dorothy Vernon and John Manners, the second son of the first Earl of Rutland, took place. To the betrothal of the pair Dorothy’s father, Sir George Vernon, the owner of the Hall and of many other manors and lordships, was opposed; but one night while dancing by a large party of guests was proceeding in the ballroom, Dorothy slipped out to meet her lover, with whom she rode off to Leicester, where they were married next day.

Haddon Hall - The Sketch - Jan 28 1903 - BNA (6)
“Sleep in the heat, with never a sound of human voices, or freshening breeze.”

Dorothy was co-heiress of her father, and by the marriage Haddon Hall fell to the Manners family, of which her grandson, on succeeding as eighth Earl of Rutland, became the head. Dorothy’s name was preserved in Dorothy’s Garden, Dorothy’s Walk, Dorothy’s Door (through which she escaped on the night of the elopement), and Dorothy’s Steps (where she met her lover in readiness with horses for the flight).

Haddon Hall - The Sketch - Jan 28 1903 - BNA (1)
“It is a night with never a star, and the Hall with revelry throbs and gleams.”

Haddon Hall - The Sketch - Jan 28 1903 - BNA (2)
“Then grates a hinge, a door is ajar, and a shaft of light in the darkness streams.”

Haddon Hall - The Sketch - Jan 28 1903 - BNA (3)
“A fair, sweet face, a glimmering gem, and then two figures steal into light.”

Haddon Hall - The Sketch - Jan 28 1903 - BNA (4)
“A flash and darkness has followed them, so sudden is Dorothy Vernon’s flight.”

Haddon Hall - The Graphic - Jan 16 1926 - BNA (1)
The Long Gallery or Ballroom. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

Haddon Hall - The Graphic - Jan 16 1926 - BNA (3)
The Banqueting Hall, dating from the 14th century. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

Haddon Hall - The Graphic - Jan 16 1926 - BNA (2)
Queen Elizabeth’s Bed. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

Haddon Hall - The Illustrated London News - Jan 16 1926 - BNA (4)
Dating partly from Norman times, when William the Conqueror gave the manor to his natural son, ‘Peveril of the Peak,” immortalised by Sir Walter Scott. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

NOTE:
The restoration of Haddon Hall got underway during the early years of the twentieth century. The 9th Duke of Rutland and his team began to find small everyday objects, lost or thrown away, evocative of the lives of the past occupants. The Duke recognised the importance of these finds and established a museum at Haddon Hall in which to display them.

Haddon Hall

IMG_0599
Captain John Henry Montagu Manners, 9th Duke of Rutland (21 August 1886 – 22 April 1940), styled as Marquess of Granby from 1906 to 1925, was an English peer and medieval art expert.

WHITLEY PARK HALL

Where once a mansion stood in open countryside. The railway and the growth of Whitley Bay as a seaside resort eventually sealed its fate.

Whitley Park Hotel
Lost and forgotten. Whitley Park Hall was a country house, later a hotel and council offices.

Deep beneath the recreational space called Whitley Park, one can hope that the foundations of long-lost Whitley Park Hall might remain. It is hard to imagine that this part of Whitley Bay once looked remarkably different than it does today.

So quiet and peaceful was the scene in the 1860s, that a Newcastle minister, who used to rent the village blacksmith’s cottage in the parish of Cullercoats each summer, was able to practice his sermons on the beach with no-one to disturb him. Whitley-by-the-Sea, or the ‘Dream Village’ as it was frequently called was a long way off becoming Whitley Bay, the popular seaside resort.

Picturesque the village may have been, but apart from its houses of quality which included Whitley Hall, Whitley Park Hall, Whitley House, Marden House and Belvedere House, it boasted only a few farms and terraced cottages with a liberal supply of public houses.

Whitley Park Hotel (2)
Pictures of Whitley Park Hall are extremely rare. This one shows it in its days as a hotel.

Times changed. The introduction of a passenger train between Monkseaton station and Newcastle put the wheels of progress in motion. The picnicking parties, who had previously travelled from Newcastle by wagonette, began to arrive more frequently and in greater numbers to the little station, where colourful rambling roses grew.

The early history of Whitley had been associated with the Hudson family. Henry Hudson, of Newburn, was one of Cromwell’s Ironsides, the lessee of mills at Billy Mill and Tynemouth and of quarries at Whitley and Monkseaton. He was succeeded by his son, Henry Hudson, the second. Henry Hudson, the third, who married his cousin, Elizabeth Ellison, in 1776, sold 11 acres of land to Edward Hall of Backworth, for the purpose of erecting a brewery here.

Whitley Park Hall, built in white stucco, was constructed by Edward Hall about 1789. He was also a cattle breeder and subsequently added to his estate by the purchase of land from his neighbours. He was famous for being the breeder of ‘The Fat Ox,’ immortalised in one of Thomas Bewick’s copper-plate engravings. The ox chewed the cud in Whitley during the 1780’s, weighing 216 stones, 8 lbs before its slaughter by Newcastle butcher Thomas Horsley in 1789.

Fat Ox - North East History Tour (1)
‘The Fat Ox’, ‘The Whitley Large Ox’ or ‘The Whitley Great Ox’ – was the property of one Edward Hall of Whitley Park Hall,and was grazed up to its immense proportions upon fields now occupied by The Fat Ox pub in Whitley Bay. Image: North East History Tour.

On Edward Hall’s death in 1792, it was bought by John Haigh, a ‘hostman’ who became bankrupt in 1797 and moved to America. His assignees sold it in 1800 to Thomas Wright of North Shields, who occupied it until his death in 1840.  In 1844, it was bought by John Hodgson-Hinde, and sold in 1855 to Charles Mark Palmer, a shipbuilder then at the height of his fortune, and in 1869 to Thomas William Bulman, who later extended it, diverted the road around his property, and planted a tree belt that still exists today.


Whitley Park Hotel - Newcastle Journal - Sat 6 May 1893 - BNA
From The Newcastle Journal. 6 May, 1893. Advertised by Thomas William Bulman’s widow. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

Thomas William Bulman died in 1879, and his widow sold Whitley Park Hall in 1893 to Theodore Hoyle, Joseph George Joel, Joseph Aynsley Davidson Shipley and Richard John Leeson, who wished to prevent it from disappearing under hundreds of small houses and hoped that a hydropathic establishment could be opened. Plans for the health facility fell through, but a provisional licence for a hotel and restaurant was granted to the Whitley Park Hotel Company in 1893. It opened in the spring of 1896 under the management of Miss Carrie Sokel. In 1910, the company sold parts of the grounds which were turned into the Spanish City Pleasure Grounds (subject of the Dire Straits song Tunnel of Love, along with Whitley Bay and the nearby town Cullercoats), while other parcels of land were sold off for building purposes.

Whitley Park Hall - National Library of Scotland (1)
Many locals will not know the original location of Whitley Park Hall. An old map, with the house at its centre, is over-layered with a modern-day satellite view. Image: National Library of Scotland.

The house was used for billeting during the Great War but was left with only twelve of its sixty apartments in good condition. The hotel was sold to Whitley Pleasure Gardens Company in 1920, with plans to use its grounds to erect elaborate amusements and shows, as well as a scenic railway, extending from Spanish City. The development faltered, but the hotel was sold to Whitley Bay and Monkseaton Urban District Council in 1924, which used the building as offices. In 1939, it spent £30,000 on new offices in Whitley Park, finding the old house “totally unsafe,” and to be “suffering from galloping consumption.”

Whitley Park Hall was demolished in 1939, and a library was built on the site in 1966, since also demolished.

Whitley Park Hotel (3)
Whitley Park Hall was demolished in 1939. A library was eventually built on part of its footprint in 1966, but has since also been demolished.

Whitley Park Hall - Google Maps (1)
No trace of evidence. Whitley Park Hall once stood here in open countryside. Image: Google Maps.