Bramley Meade was built on the proceeds of the textile industry. One hundred years ago it was up for sale. It gained prominence as a maternity home but, a century later, history is repeating itself .
One hundred years ago, in February 1919, the sale of country estates gained momentum, with the latest property added to the auction catalogues being Bramley Meade at Whalley in Lancashire.
The mansion of “modern architectural design” contained five entertaining rooms, a noble staircase and eight principal bedrooms. In addition to the house, the auction scheduled for April 1919, would also include the entire contents, including furniture “made from the best selected timbers by Harrison of Burnley.” There was also a 30 H.P. Daimler Landaulette up for grabs as well.
Bramley Meade was built in 1882, in the style of Italian Renaissance, for textile manufacturer Richard Thompson, proprietor of Britannia and Alma Mills in Padham, and was one of a number of prestigious residences built north of Whalley in the late 19th century.
Richard Thompson died in 1913 and the mansion eventually passed, in 1919, to Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick Alfred Dixon, Royal Field Artillery, who died in 1925.
Passing to Thomas Allan Collinge, a Burnley manufacturer, Bramley Meade was bought by Lancashire County Council to become a maternity home for the Clitheroe borough and rural districts in 1946. However, it stood empty for several years before finally opening in 1951 and operated until 1992. After that time, the property was converted back into a family residence.
A century after that sale notice appeared, Bramley Meade Hall is back on the market, now with the addition of an indoor heated swimming pool. Although the asking price has been kept a secret, it is understood from Athertons that it will be in the millions of pounds.
“To all outward appearances the mansion had the appearance of being unoccupied, and the spacious garden was in the same neglected condition as it had been for many years.” One hundred years later, nothing has changed.
This week, one hundred years ago, the discovery of an illicit whisky still in an old mansion gave considerable food for gossip in a Leeds suburb.
The scene of the discovery was the century-old mansion known as Fernville House at Roundhay, which stood in rural splendour until it became overshadowed by what was known as the Fernville ‘Garden City’, a small colony of ‘modern’ residences.
The mansion house (also known as Fearneville) had been built about 1820 by a Leeds merchant, and Thomas Louis Oxley, a surgeon dentist, later lived here, letting about 100 acres of land as a farm. In the 1870s, the mansion with about 49-acres of pleasure grounds, had been occupied by William Middleton JP, and then Samuel Sykes, after which the estate was sold for development on garden city lines. The last tenant had been Alderman Alfred John Knowles (1836-1918), a well-known Leeds provisions merchant, and for the last ten years or so had been unoccupied.
In November 1918, negotiations had taken place which resulted in Fernville House being sold for £2,000 to a Jewish businessman, who, it was understood would turn the former country house into a business place. Those who had negotiated the sale had asked what the place was going to be used for, presuming that it would become a clothing factory. The reply had been a definite ‘no’.
The new owner had not been long in taking possession, and it had been understood by some people in the neighbourhood that the house was being used as a laundry. On Saturday 1 February 1919, two officers from the Leeds special police force had seen a large cask being driven away from the house on a cart. They weren’t satisfied with the explanation given as to the contents of the cask, and at midnight a raiding party of special and regular police had taken possession of the house.
The officers came across ample evidence that spirit distilling operations had been conducted here. An attempt had been made to wreck some of the plant, which was unmistakeably a whisky still, and several barrels were removed from the premises.
Neighbours at Fernville House told the Yorkshire Evening Post that no serious attempt had been made to put the mansion into a state fit for habitation. Joiners had been seen doing odd repairs, and to fix a new wooden gate to the entrance which led to outbuildings of the house. To all outward appearances the mansion had the appearance of being unoccupied, and the spacious garden was in the same neglected condition as it had been for many years.
In June 1919, writs were issued by the Commissioners of the Customs and Excise upon Joseph Levi, a wines and spirits merchant, in connection with the illicit whisky still. The total penalties imposed on Levi, his wife, Sarah, and two others amounted to £1,960. (Sarah Levi was again convicted for similar offences in 1930).
The events preceded what would turn out to be a torturous century ahead. One hundred years later, the condition of Fearnville House (as it is now known) is even more precarious than it was then.
During the early part of the twentieth century the Ralphes lived here. The land was sold in the 1950s and the house was converted into flats while still retaining the pillared porch and a fine staircase inside.
By the 1970s, the house was again derelict and seemingly abandoned entirely in 1993. The council had evicted its residents, boarded up the building and it has been left ever since. In 2008, it was sold on the instruction of Leeds City Council for £228,000. The following year it was sold again, reputedly to become a nursing home. The last planning application in 2012 was abandoned the following year after various objections, including opposition that the premises would need a long period of observation for bats, along with doubts from the coal board who stated previous mine workings might undermine the property. There was also a further rejection from the council’s Highways Department who said a nearby road would have to be made one-way and restrictions, due to the entrance width, meant the number of dwellings was unsustainable.
Fearnville House is now in perilous condition, its interiors collapsing, and the grounds open to vandals and fly-tippers. Now marooned within housing estates, it has been the subject of frequent visits from urban explorers, who, if nothing else, have at least highlighted the sad state that the once-grand house is now in.
A turreted property, this castle in the country has been refurbished by the present owners, taking advantage of grand period features, and it has been home to some very prominent people.
This four-bedroom property may need to come with a warning to heritage connoisseurs. The east wing of Callingwood Hall, at Tatenhill near Burton-on-Trent, is on the market at Fine & Country with offers wanted over £1 million. The Grade II listed country house is believed to date back from the early 18th century, with later 19th century additions, and was originally part of Lord Burton’s Rangemore estate. Look beyond the ‘Great British’ theme and you’ll see that its period features are still evident.
A spokesman for estate agent says: “A simply stunning turreted property, this castle in the country has been thoroughly refurbished by the present owners to offer a comfortable modern family home with an abundance of grand period features, coupled with an impressive facade and captivating views.”
Callingwood Hall was probably built for Sir Theophilus de Biddulph and remained in the family until it was sold by his great-grandson in 1796 to the Evans family of Allestree. It descended to Spencer Stone and was later occupied by Major Edmund Probyn. The estate was sold in 1889 to Michael Arthur Bass, 1st Baron Burton (1837-1909), a brewer, philanthropist and Liberal politician. The Bass family descended from William Bass, who founded the brewery business of Bass & Co in Burton upon Trent in 1777.
Lord Burton’s principal home was Rangemore Hall meaning that for large periods Callingwood Hall was tenanted. Amongst the notable residents were the Rev Edward Ash Were, former Bishop of Stafford and Bishop Suffragen of Derby, Alexander William Stopford Sackville, Sir Digby Lawson, Captain Maurice J. Kingscote and Colonel James Alister Eadie, chairman of Wilson’s Brewery, Newton Heath, Manchester. Callingwood was probably sold in the late 1940s.
A forgotten mansion, once rooted in the countryside, now standing quietly within a popular park surrounded by housing estates.
Morden Park House, in the London Borough of Merton, is a small Georgian country house, that once stood in a large swathe of parkland. This land was once owned by Westminster Abbey and later owned by the Garth family until the estate was split in two.
In 1768, Richard Garth, in partnership with the London merchant and distiller John Ewart, procured a private act of Parliament permitting the creation of the Morden Park estate. The double-fronted brown-brick Morden Park House was built in 1770 as a retreat for the Ewart family, who remained until 1788.
Morden Park House should not be confused with Morden Hall Park, a much larger property, built by Sir Richard Garth in the 1770s, and now a National Trust property. This was sold to Gilliat Hatfield (1827-1906) a member of the firm of James Taddy and Co, tobacco and snuff manufacturers, in the 1870s.
A sale notice of 1879 described Morden Park House as a “desirable mansion on high ground, commanding extensive and diversified views, with an ornamental entrance lodge and carriage approach through an avenue from the high road from London to Epsom, with stabling, coach-houses, extensive gardens, pleasure grounds, shrubberies, with cottages, orchard, and park-like meadow land containing about 60-acres.”
After this Morden Park passed through different owners. From the late 1780s the estate was in the hands of the Polhill family and between the 1880s and the 1910s, the house was occupied by the banker John Wormald. The entire estate was eventually purchased by Gilliat Hatfeild, the owner of Morden Hall Park, thus reuniting the two estates.
Morden Park House was tenanted and after Hatfeild’s death, it passed to his son, Gilliat Edward Hatfeild (1864-1941).
For a brief period following the Second World War, the building became the headquarters for the local golf club, and was later purchased from the Hatfeild family by Merton and Morden Urban District Council. The house and 90 acres were preserved as public open space, the house used as council offices for the Parks Department between 1965 and 1985.
Like many country houses, Morden Park House suffered years of neglect and from 1985 onwards stood vacant for lengthy periods. The Grade II* listed house was eventually restored and is now the local register office, subject of a £1.8 million restoration using money from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
However, its future has been the subject of speculation, after the Labour council announced plans to close it. It now appears that this decision has been reversed and the register office will remain open.
This old country house once boasted an 1,110-acre estate complete with five farms and three workers’ cottages. They now make up the hamlet around the manor.
Bradford Manor, near Holsworthy, in Devon, is being marketed by Fine & Country, with offers wanted over £1.95 million.
The manor house stands on the site of an older manor house destroyed by fire in the 1770’s and subsequently demolished.
The present house was built in 1868 by Joseph Thomas English (1819-1892), a successful businessman who was married twice and had ten children. He was the younger brother of Henry Hampden English and together they founded English Brothers, timber merchants, of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. J.T. English subsequently moved to Stamford (Lincolnshire), Stratford-on-Avon (Warwickshire), Stratton (Cornwall) and finally Bradford (North Devon). Amazingly these moves all took place in the 1860’s. When he built Bradford Manor the estate was 11,000 acres with five farms. As well as managing his estate he held shares in shipping, railways and finance.
Following his death the house passed through several sons but the longest tenant was Alexander Emanuel English (1872-1962), the younger son, who obtained the freehold of Bradford Manor in 1904. He was frequently absent in India and Burma during a long career with the Indian Civil Service.
The house was extended during the mid-20th century and comprises of 25 rooms. The sale also includes a Victorian walled garden, open fronted carriage barn, coach house, garaging and extensive stone and slate barns.
As property owner of this important historic and quality manor house the prestigious title, Lord and Lady of Bradford, is obtained which rarely becomes available.
One hundred years ago, this week. A large part of Dalchenna House, two miles from Inverary, was destroyed by fire.
The greater part of Dalchenna House was destroyed by fire on the night of 30 January 1919. The house was built in 1891 as a hunting lodge and residence for the Sheriff-Substitute of Argyll, and the late Duke of Argyll had made it his residence while in Inverary.
John Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll (1845-1914) had several costly additions made to the mansion in 1908-09, which eventually “assumed the appearance of a castle.”
This mansion occupied a beautiful position on the west shore of Loch Fyne, and commanded one of the finest views of the picturesque district. Since 1903, the Duke of Argyll had resided at the house for weeks at a stretch.
After his death, the entail on Dalchenna House was conferred to his wife, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, Duchess of Argyll (1848-1939), the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert who, according to the Pall Mall Gazette, had a great affection for the beauty of the surroundings and often stayed here.
At the time of the fire, the house was being occupied by members of the Women’s Land Army, who were engaged in woodcutting in the neighbourhood. The previous autumn, Princess Louise had visited the house and removed several valuable pieces of furniture.
The house was restored and occupied by tenants, but suffered a further fire, although less serious, in 1928.
In 1930, after being diagnosed with a chronic duodenal ulcer, the author A. J. Cronin was told he must take six months complete rest in the country on a milk diet. At Dalchenna House, he was finally able to indulge his lifelong desire to write a novel, ‘Hatter’s Castle’.
During World War 2, Dalchenna was requisitioned by the Admiralty but, according to Historic Environment Scotland, the house has since been demolished. Its location was probably north-east, but close to the surviving Dalchenna Farm.
After a period as Borocourt Hospital this Victorian mansion has been completely restored to its original appearance both inside and out.
Wyfold Court, the Grade-II listed Gothic mansion at Rotherfield Pepppard, in Oxfordshire, was built between 1872 and 1873, during the reign of Queen Victoria, for Edward Hermon, Conservative MP for Preston and a partner in Horrocks, Miller and Co, cotton merchants. It was designed by the architect George Somers Clarke, who was a pupil of Sir Charles Barry, and the visionary behind the Houses of Parliament.
In the late 1990s, Wyfold was converted into eleven apartments by English Heritage. The four bedroom apartment that’s currently on the market at Hamptons International for £1.85 million occupies one of the mansion’s most impressive corners.
An ornamental carriage entrance with timber doors leads the way into a communal reception hall. The inner hall, with chequerboard floor tiles and marble pillars is said to be a copy of a similar corridor found at the House of Commons. Resplendent with period grandeur the feeling is enhanced by an impressive 43 ft high grand stair case, crafted in teak with beautiful stained glass windows featuring past Kings and Queens of England.
The apartment is arranged over three floors. Access to the apartment is from the ground floor where the entrance hall provides access to principle reception rooms and kitchen/breakfast room all of which have breath-taking views over formal gardens and surrounding countryside.
There is much to be admired in the drawing room; the 20 ft high ceiling, ornately decorated with painted plaster mouldings, an outstanding carved timber fireplace housing a wood-burning stove and full height windows providing wonderful views and a door to a private area of garden.