Tag Archives: Mansion

THE FARM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FLASS HOUSE

“Graffiti has been daubed over the walls, and beer cans and broken bottles are strewn across the floors along with discarded sleeping bags.” A country house built on the proceeds of opium and ruined by cannabis.

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Flass House is a Grade II* listed detached mansion, believed to comprise in the region of twenty bedrooms, set in extensive grounds. Image: Harman Healy.

Flass, also called Flass House, is a large Grade II* listed country house near the village of Maulds Meaburn in Cumbria. At last, and not before time, it is going to be auctioned by Harman Healy with a guide price of just £460,000+ on 30 January.

Someone is going to get a bargain, considering this was marketed for £1.5 million in 2014. Someone is also going to get a shock. There are no interior images from the auctioneers, probably deliberate, as it’s now described as “being in an utterly wrecked, vandalised condition.”

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Flass House is in a derelict condition and has been vandalised. The new owner will need to embark on a costly programme of renovation. Image: Harman Healy.

Flass House was rebuilt in 1851 for wealthy merchant brothers and tea and opium magnets Lancelot and Wilkinson Dent, possibly incorporating parts of an 18th century house. No expense was spared in the house, with door handles fashioned out of ivory and balustrades made out of French wrought iron. It was designed by architects Mr Grey and later by Mr G. Mair and included furnishings by Gillows of Lancaster and London.

Lancelot Dent, the senior partner of Dent & Co, headquartered in Canton, had taken over the business when his older brother Thomas departed in 1831. The company had established trade with China, and  after the break up of the East India Company, rendered their services to the British Government during the first Chinese War.

Afterwards, branch houses were established at all the open ports, and it was the first company to run a line of steamers from Calcutta to Hong Kong. Lancelot held a powerful hold over some agency houses buying opium from the Calcutta auction, including Carr, Tagore and Company, managed by Bengali merchant Dwarkanath Tagore. He died at Cheltenham in 1853.  His younger brother, Wilkinson Dent, joined the firm in 1827 and twenty years later, on the death of their sister in 1847,  both had succeeded to the Flass estate.

The unmarried brothers, Lancelot and Wilkinson, both retired to Flass Park. The business passed to their nephews, John Dent and Alfred (later Sir Alfred) Dent, while the Flass estate passed to another nephew, Thomas Dent.

Flass remained in the Dent family until 1973, when it was sold to banker, historian and writer Frank Welsh for £17,000. It was purchased from Welsh in 1982 for £115,000 by the retired solicitor Malcolm Whiteside, who ran the property as a care home with his wife, Mary. A change in fire legislation meant that this was no longer possible, and the house was put up for sale again; Whiteside still owned the house in the late 1990s, when it was put up for sale for around £750,000.

It was sold in 2000 to singer-songwriter Christine Holmes and her husband Paul Davies who ran it as a performing arts school.

After the couple divorced, Davies took control of the mansion and became implicated with a gang of drug dealers in 2011. Davies and his five cohorts were able to grow cannabis with a street value of £5.26 million undetected until a neighbour became suspicious. He was jailed for his role in the crime for three years and eight months in September 2015.

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Flass House was built in Italianate style. It is built in limestone that is partly rendered, and all is whitewashed; the roofs are slated. The house has an asymmetrical plan, and is in two storeys with attics. There is a string course between the storeys. Image: Harman Healy.
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Flass House was rebuilt in the mid-19th century, apparently incorporating elements of a previous house which likely dated to the 18th century, likely a yeoman farmer’s home. Image: Harman Healy.

Christine Holmes subsequently took back control of Flass House and after trying and failing to sell the house for £1.5 million, spent £200,000 on renovations to put right the damage done by the drug operation.

Since then it has been a magnet for urban explorers. Said Christine Holmes;- “I think people have been staying in the building and have even been there hiding while I’ve been there. I’m petrified. These are evil people who are breaking into my home. I think it’s becoming a game to them. They are breaking in every day.”

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Flass House was built for Lancelot and Wilkinson Dent, though construction may have been started by their sister. The Dent brothers were the wealthy owners of Dent & Co., a company trading tea and opium. The process was initially overseen by an architect named Mr Gray, but, around 1854, a Mr G. Mair took over. Image: Harman Healy.
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In 1895, Charles Lancelot Dent, the 20-year-old epileptic son of Mr Thomas Dent (Lancelot and Wilkinson Dent’s nephew), went outside after breakfast and was later found dead in mud near the house. Image: Harman Healy.
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Flass remained in the hands of the Dent family until Sir Robert Dent and Lady Elspeth Dent sold it to the historian Frank Welsh for £17,000 in 1973. Robert Dent, shortly before selling the house, broke into an attic he had not visited. There, he found a number of items, including 16th-century statuettes from the Mughal Empire left behind by his ancestors. These were subsequently sold for £220,000. Image: Harman Healy.
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Flass House’s recent history has been rather unsavoury. An owner was jailed for growing cannabis in ten of the rooms. Since then, it has been repeatedly targeted by ‘urban explorers’. Image: Visit Cumbria.

BISHOP’S HALL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NORTHWICK PARK

This was the home of the Rushout family until the 20th century. After a period of use as a drug rehabilitation centre, the house suffered fire damage and was vacated. Now it has been  renovated and converted into apartments.

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Northwick Park, a wonderful 16th Century mansion house, once owned by the Spencer Churchill Family. It has been split into apartments and over 70 families now live on the estate. Image: Pritchard and Company.

An opportunity has arisen with Pritchard & Company to buy an apartment within Grade I listed Northwick Park, at Blockley, in Gloucestershire, for £1.1 million. The country house is the former family seat of the Rushout family, the Barons Northwick.

Northwick Park belonged to the Childe family from about 1320 to 1683. The estate was bought by Sir James Rushout, the son of a Flemish merchant who had made a fortune in London, in 1683, who remodelled the old house in 1686.

The next remodelling was completed by Sir John Rushout, 4th Baronet, in 1728-30 to a design by Lord Burlington complete with a Palladian east front and entrance hall in the 1730s.

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Until 1931, Northwick Park and its parish of Blockley were part of Worcestershire. It is now situated in Gloucestershire. Image: Pritchard and Company.

The 5th Baronet, later 1st Baron Northwick, employed architect John Woolfe to carry out further improvements in the 1770s and William Eames to landscape the parkland. It passed down the family line, with a further remodelling in 1828-30, until George Rushout, 3rd Baron Northwick, whose widow, Augusta, left the estate to her grandson, Captain George-Spencer Churchill in 1912.

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In World War II Northwick Park was heavily used by the US Army, with the full support of Captain Spencer Churchill. They built a hospital on the adjoining site called the cinquefoil (now the Northwick Business Centre) and after the war, from 1948 to 1965, this became one of the largest Polish refugee camps in the country. Image: Polish Resettlement Camps.
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When Augusta died in 1912 her grandson Captain George Spencer Churchill (1876-1964) inherited the estate and moved to Northwick Park. He gave unstinting support over a period of fifty years to the parish of Blockley. During his tenure, his cousin Winston Churchill was a frequent visitor to Northwick Park. Image: Polish Resettlement Camps.

Northwick Park remained the property of the Spencer Churchill family until 1966, when it was finally sold to a syndicate headed by the Hon Michael Pearson, then the 22-year-old heir of Viscount Cowdray, one of Britain’s leading landowners. He paid close to £1 million for the estate, but had no intention of living here. “We shall have to decide what we do with the house,” he said at the time, “It will be looked after by the estate agents and run as an investment.” It actually became a drug rehabilitation centre and was later damaged by fire.

Northwick Park fell into decline and was empty from 1976 until the early 1980s. The house was then bought by developers who got permission for rebuilding the mansion and surrounding historic area, in the first phase of the development of the estate as it is today. Other development companies completed the work, adding the houses of William Emes Garden, Julianas Court, Churchill Square, John Woolfe Court and The Lodge. The Estate was taken over from Clarendon, the final development company, in 2003 by Northwick Park Ltd and thus passed into the joint ownership of the residents.

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In 1832-34 Lord Northwick built a picture Gallery, designed by Richard Hulls, to house his large art collection at the north-east corner of the main house. The Northwick collection of pictures and works of art was later dispersed in an historic sale at Christies in 1965 which attracted worldwide interest. Image: Polish Resettlement Camps.
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Northwick Park was featured in Nicholas Kingsley’s book ‘The Country Houses of Gloucestershire – Volume 2’ in 1992. This image showed the west front which had survived largely unaltered from Sir James Rushout’s remodelling of the house in about 1686. According to Kingsley, “It could be an early essay in William Talman’s astylar manner.” Image: Nicholas Kingsley.
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The east front of Northwick Park is largely seen as the creation of Lord Burlington for Sir John Rushout in 1728-30, but incorporates two pre-existing towers, while the shaped gables were put on about 1788-1804. Image: Nicholas Kingsley.
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Another image from ‘The Country Houses of Gloucestershire – Volume 2’. “A distressing photograph of the entrance hall into which the house sank prior to its restoration in the 1980s and 1990s, with chimneypieces and doorcases stolen or damaged by vandals. Image: Nicholas Kingsley.

The apartment in question is known as 3, The Mansion, and approached through the grand reception room of the main house, The Hall by Lord Burlington with marble floor, Inigo Jones style ceiling and a fine pedimented Corinthian doorcase leading to a circular inner hall featuring a fine cantilevered staircase reputedly by John Woolfe. The impressive gallery landing gives access to the private entrance to the apartment.

The principal room of the apartment is the fine drawing room with dedicated study and kitchen areas enjoying a westerly aspect and forming the main façade of the house. It boasts a central fireplace with impressive chimney piece, and panelled walls featuring a Vitruvian scroll design.

The master bedroom, housed in one of the distinctive bays on the north elevation, provides a substantial and most impressive bedroom suite with dressing cupboard and en suite shower room.

The south wing of the apartment provides versatile living accommodation with a further double aspect reception room, currently a sitting room, and two additional guest bedroom suites.

Each of the rooms has deep sash windows providing wonderful proportions and some have magnificent views across the parkland. There is also a luxurious bathroom with a traditional roll-top bath. In addition the property benefits from substantial secure cellarage and an excellent double en bloc garage within the grounds.

Note
Blockley lies some three miles north-west of Moreton-in-Marsh, in Gloucestershire. If you think you’ve seen the church and 15th century vicarage before, that could be because they appear in each episode of  ‘Father Brown’, the BBC TV series, loosely based on GK Chesterton’s novels. Filming also takes place around the village, which doubles as the fictional Cotswold village of Kembleford.

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Northwick Park, Blockley, Gloucestershire. Image: Pritchard and Company.
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Northwick Park, Blockley, Gloucestershire. Image: Pritchard and Company.
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Northwick Park, Blockley, Gloucestershire. Image: Pritchard and Company.
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According to Nicholas Kingsley, the main staircase of 1828-30, which occupies a top-lit circular well at the centre of the house, replaced one damaged by fire. Image: Pritchard and Company.

FULWELL PARK

This country house was once the English home of the exiled King Manoel II of Portugal. It was swallowed by urban development and eventually lost.

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September 1913. With its own golf-course, fishing, boating, and so on. King Manoel’s new home, Fulwell Park, had fifty acres of charming grounds. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

On this day, one hundred years ago, events in a distant country brought an English mansion into the headlines. Newspapers reported that the ex-King Manoel, who had been forced to flee from Portugal in 1910, and lived in England, had been proclaimed King of Portugal in Porto and other places by monarchist elements in his country.

However, the press also reported that Dom Manoel had condemned any attempt to restore the monarchy, even suggesting that he had refused the throne.

These were troubling times for Portugal. A monarchist revolt was spreading through several towns in the north of the country, while a Royalist Government had been formed in Porto, with Senor Paiva Couceiro at its head. The Government, however, claimed to be master of the situation.

Away from the unrest, enquiries by journalists at Dom Manoel’s residence at Twickenham were told that “he was not at home.”

Fulwell Park, where ex-King Manoel had lived since he brought his bride to Britain, was an historic mansion, built mainly in the Georgian style. A part of it dated back to James II, but it had been considerably enlarged from time to time, and now contained a magnificent suite of six entertaining rooms.

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Fulwell Park had been the home of many famous people, and Twickenham itself abounded with historic memories. In 1800, Orleans House had been the residence of Louis Philippe, then Duke of Orleans; and among other famous inhabitants of the area had been Alexander Pope, Horace Walpole, Francis Bacon, John Donne (the poet), Kitty Clive (the actress), Tennyson, Dickens, Archbishop Temple and Henry Labouchere.

The mansion was built in 1623 and was acquired by Sir Charles James Freake, a London property developer, in 1871 and renamed Fulwell Park from Fulwell Lodge. It passed to his wife Eliza in 1884, then after her death in 1900, to Count Reginald Henshaw Ward , an American millionaire, born of an English family.

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Count Reginald Ward, the ‘Copper King’ was Count by the grace of the Pope, Consul-General for Romania, and the possessor of decorations that covered his entire left breast. He was a wonderful linguist, and had all the airs and graces of the ideal diplomatist. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

Count Ward was born in Massachusetts in 1872 and had been a clerk in a Boston bank at seventeen. He eventually started banks of his own in Boston and New York, and by the time he purchased Fulwell Park, he was a representative of Clark, Ward and Co in England. Ward was also known as ‘The Copper King’, in reference to his large business interests in the copper market. The bachelor moved into Fulwell Park in 1903 and took himself up to the city every morning in one of his five splendid automobiles. His title of Count, by the way, was of Papal creation.

As the years progressed, Ward spent months away from Fulwell Park and by the time it was sold to Manoel in 1913, had been used as a residential country home for paying guests.

Dom Manoel (1889-1932) was the second son of Don Carlos, the King of Portugal, and his wife, Marie Amelie, daughter of the Comte de Paris. She had been born at York House, Twickenham, in 1865. Manoel was born in Lisbon in 1889, barely a month after his father had succeeded to the throne.

King Carlos I and his eldest son, Luiz, were both assassinated in 1908. 18-year-old Manoel, training as a naval cadet, succeeded to the throne as Manoel II, but his reign was brief, a revolution broke out in October 1910.

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King Manuel II of Portugal was the last Portuguese monarch, reigning just two and a half years before Portugal declared itself a republic. He was born Infante Manuel Maria Filipe Carlos Amélio Luís Miguel Rafael Gabriel Gonzaga Xavier Francisco de Assis Eugénio on November 15, 1889, at Belém Palace in Lisbon, the youngest child of King Carlos I of Portugal and Princess Amélie of Orléans.

Manoel and his mother fled to Gibraltar, and from here to England. They settled at Abercorn House in Richmond in early 1911. Manoel married the German Princess Victoria Augusta of Hohenzolern in 1913, and on their return to England settled at Fulwell Park. King Manoel had a liking for the area, and was already a well-known figure in the Richmond, Teddington and Twickenham neighbourhoods.

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Ex-King Manoel of Portugal returned to Fulwell Park, Twickenham, with his bride. The residents had given the Royal pair a cordial welcome after their honeymoon. In this photograph they are seen returning from St James’s Catholic Church. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

One of the attractions of Fulwell Park was the nine-hole private golf course laid out in the grounds. But the chief attractions were charming grounds of some fifty acres, where there were shady lawns, extensive flower gardens, peach houses and vineries. There were also several tennis courts in the grounds, especially agreeable for a man who excelled at the game. There was also good fishing in the River Crane, on which boating was also possible.

Manoel found solace in his books, and in his library,  he built up a unique assembly of ancient Portuguese works, and then, to show he was no mere bibliomaniac, proceeded to write an authoritative book on them. It was his hobby and life’s work, shared only with his love of grand opera and watching lawn tennis at Wimbledon and on the Riviera.

Manoel had an aversion to the colour blue, and he made sure that the decoration at Fulwell Park excluded any shade of it. The drawing-room was redecorated in rose shades, while a delicate pink was to be found in his wife’s boudoir.

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Who were both lovers of the garden, and who were amongst the earliest arrivals at the Chelsea Flower Show? King Manoel’s war charities were of a wide nature, and he had established and equipped at his own expense, a convalescent home for officers at Brighton. This photograph was taken in 1916. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

In July 1932, Manoel attended Wimbledon. The following day he suffered a sore throat, a doctor was called, but he died of oedema of the throat.

Manoel left English property valued at £26,447, and to King George V he bequeathed two large vases of lacquer with the Royal Arms of Portugal, which had been in the dining room at Fulwell Park, “in testimony of profound gratitude for all his kindness and friendship.”

His widow left Fulwell Park in December 1933 and took up residence at Fribourg in Switzerland. King Manoel’s collection of books was sent to Portugal, and his widow sold the house in 1934, with an undertaking that it should never again be used as a private residence. The house was sold to Edward Wates, a building company, and soon demolished to make way for suburban housing. A four-ton safe that was used to hold the Royal jewellery at the house is now in St Mary’s Church, Hampton.

The names of Manoel Road, Augusta Road, Portugal Road and Lisbon Avenue in Twickenham commemorate the royal residents. The original housing has since been supplemented by a great deal of infilling, but the legacy of Fulwell Park is long forgotten.

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‘A place of very pleasant exile’. Fulwell Park, Twickenham, which King Manoel had taken as his London home after his marriage. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

GRANBY HOUSE

This country house is no stranger to fire. It was still unfinished in 1913 when suffragettes set it ablaze. Elms Cross House became the Granby Hotel and was later destroyed by fire for a second time.

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Granby House, Wiltshire. For many this is still known as Elms Cross House. Image: Knight Frank.

Situated in idyllic countryside, this substantial family home sits at Westwood, moments from the market town of Bradford-on-Avon, in Wiltshire, within lovely gardens and grounds.

Granby House was originally commissioned by quarry master, builder, and stone merchant, Isaac Jones, built at the turn of the 20th Century and is not listed. It is currently on the market at Knight Frank with a guide price of £2.95 million.

The property was once Elms Cross House, which had been built in 1908, by Isaac Jones at a cost of over £18,000. It was still unfinished when, in June 1913, it was completely gutted by fire. Suspicion at the time rested with the Suffragettes and firemen were unable to save the house due to an absolute lack of water. At the time they depended entirely for their supply on a three-quarter-inch tap in outbuildings.

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This photograph appeared in the Wiltshire Times and Trowbridge Advertiser in November 1922. It was taken shortly after the interior was destroyed by fire in 1913. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

The bare walls of the house became a landmark of the countryside but, in November 1922, Mr Charles William Darbishire, whose firm had business interests in the Far East, and was the newly-elected MP for Westbury, bought the abandoned property. The plans for the house were drawn up by Walter Wadman Snailum of Trowbridge.

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Charles William Darbishire (1875 – 1925 . By Walter Stoneman, bromide print, 1922.

Darbishire had the building restored as his permanent residence. A few years later, however, both he and his wife died within a short time of each other. The house continued as a private residence before it became the Harrogate Hotel in 1939. It was named after the Yorkshire town from which the company had relocated after its hotel was requisitioned by the Government. The northern hotel had been called the Granby and after a while the Harrogate Hotel was also renamed as the Granby Hotel.

“As your car comes to rest on the gravelled drive, a butler appears to see to you and your luggage; no matter what the season, the sweet smell of flowers assails you from the forty acres of grounds. The hotel ‘office’ as such is non-existent, but there is a quiet, efficient direction behind the scenes. The chef, whom you may remember from the Granby at Harrogate, is an adept at his job; here at the Bradford-on-Avon version of the Granby, you will find the comfort and calm of country house life, with the additional convenience of a free car to whisk you into Bath if the mood dictates.

” But there is one snag. There are only twelve rooms, as against the two hundred at Harrogate.”

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The Granby Hotel. This photograph was taken in 1939. Ashley Courtenay in The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News said; “A fine specimen of Cotswold domestic architecture where, with the exception of the hotel signboard, there is nothing to suggest an hotel.” Image: The British Newspaper Archive.
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Granby House, Wiltshire. Image: Knight Frank.

However, in August 1947, the building was gutted by fire for a second time. Once again, firemen were baffled by a complete lack of water supply until a relay pump system had been established between the burning hotel and the canal at Bradford-on-Avon, about a mile away. The fire had started in the linen room on an upper floor at the rear of the premises.

In November 1947, Mr William Gerald Holbrow, a timber merchant, purchased the Elms Cross estate, including the remains of the Granby Hotel. The building was restored as a private residence, once again known as Elms Cross House, but was put up for sale in the 1950s. In recent times the house has been used as a luxury bed and breakfast, known as Granby House Hotel, but now closed.

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The Granby Hotel caught fire again on a Saturday night in August 1947. Dinner was being served at the hotel when suddenly the cry of ‘fire’ swept through the building, a member of staff having discovered that the linen room on an upper floor was ablaze. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.
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Granby House, Wiltshire. Image: Knight Frank.
granby house - 2019 - knight frank (5)
Granby House, Wiltshire. Image: Knight Frank.
granby house - 2019 - knight frank (6)
Granby House, Wiltshire. Image: Knight Frank.
granby house - 2019 - knight frank (17)
Granby House, Wiltshire. Image: Knight Frank.
granby house - 2019 - knight frank (18)
Granby House, Wiltshire. Image: Knight Frank.
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Granby House, Wiltshire. Image: Knight Frank.

HOLBOROUGH COURT

holborough court - kent photo archive
Holborough Court. Image: Kent Photo Archive.

These photographs of Holborough Court, at Snodland in Kent, were taken in 1909. It was designed by Hubert Bensted and built in 1884-86 for Major William Henry Roberts (1848-1926), a partner in the local lime and cement industry. William Lee Henry Roberts (1871-1928), the founder of the Holborough Cement Works, succeeded to the property and when he died it passed to his nephew John Cook of Royden Hall, on condition that he took the name Roberts. He sold it to Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers (now Blue Circle) in 1929, who demolished it in 1930 to make way for industrial development. Some of the ancient fittings were saved and now form part of the furnishings of Paddlesworth church.

holborough court - kent photo archive 1
Holborough Court. Image: Kent Photo Archive.
holborough court - kent photo archive 2
Holborough Court. Image: Kent Photo Archive.