Tag Archives: The British Newspaper Archive

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 Barrcroft, was killed when he was pinned beneath half a ton of falling debris, and one of his colleagues, William Watkins, injured by the fire.

A brave fireman who died while tackling the fire at Hainton Hall in 1919. Image: Tony Emptage.

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.

Lord Heneage 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.

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

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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.

SHRUBLAND HALL

One of Suffolk’s finest country houses is facing an uncertain future. It shows no signs of reopening as a hotel, and appears to be falling into disrepair.

Shrubland Hall - The Illustrated London News - Sat 12 Jul 1851 - BNA (1)
Shrubland Park, near Ipswich, Suffolk. This sketch appeared in The Illustrated London News in July 1851. It showed the arrival of Prince Albert after a meeting of the British Association in Ipswich. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

In his book ‘In Search of the Perfect House,’ architectural historian Marcus Binney suggests that “in almost every other European country, Shrubland Hall would be called a palace. A grand Italianate composition with belvedere tower, breathtaking terraced gardens, Swiss cottage and five drives.”

Some of our finest architects were associated with Shrubland Hall (or Shrubland Park), making it hard to accept that the mansion has stood empty for nearly four years. In 2015, an ill-fated attempt to use the country house as a luxury hotel ended in failure. Since then, Shrubland has been left to ruminate its past glories.

Shrubland Hall - Boutique Hotelier (1)
The Shrubland Hall estate was put on the market in 2006 with a price tag of £23 million. It was eventually split into 42 lots. The house sold for £6 million in 2009. Image: Boutique Hotelier.

Shrubland Hall was built in the 1770s by James Paine (1717-89) for the Reverend John Bacon. At the same time, Paine was commissioned to remodel Moor Park in Surrey for John Bacon’s younger brother, Basil, who had inherited the estate in 1770. The third brother, the Reverend Nicholas Bacon, almost certainly used the architect as well, rebuilding the vicarage at Coddenham (now Coddenham House) in 1771.

Shrubland Hall - EADT - Steve Parsons - PA (1)
Shrubland Hall. Lord de Saumarez decided to sell his family estate in Coddenham, near Ipswich, in 2006 to help pay off death duties. The decision to sell followed the death of Lord de Saumarez’s father in 1991 and his mother Lady de Saumarez in 2004. Image: Steve Parsons-Press Association.

John Bacon died in 1788, Shrubland passing to his brother, Nicholas, who immediately sold the estate to Sir William Fowle Middleton (1748-1829), 1st Baronet, of Crowfield. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, where his family owned Middleton Place, he arrived in Suffolk after inheriting Crowfield Hall near Stowmarket. His brother, Henry, gave him £30,000 to spend on improvements at Shrubland, and he employed Humphry Repton to expand the park from 1789 onwards, and replaced Paine wings in about 1808.

Shrubland Hall - Caters News Agency (5)
Abandoned. Shrubland Hall has been empty since it closed as a hotel in 2015. Image: Caters News Agency.

Shrubland Hall was inherited by his only son, Sir William Fowle Middleton (1784-1860), 2nd Baronet, who brought in architect John Peter Gandy Deering in 1831-38, and later Alexander Roos between 1838-45, who enlarged and redecorated the house. About 1850, he turned to Sir Charles Barry who turned the property into an Italian palazzo.

Shrubland Hall - TripAdvisor (1)
Shrubland Park was designed by James Paine in the 1770s and passed by marriage through the families of Oake, Bothe, Lytton, Little, Bacon, until it was bought in the late 18th century by William Middleton of Crowfield who was created Sir William Fowle Middleton Bart. Image: TripAdvisor.

After his death, Sir William’s cousin, Sir George Nathaniel Broke Middleton, took over. In 1882, it passed to his niece, Jane Anne Broke, and her husband, James St. Vincent (1843-1937), 4th Baron de Saumarez, in the Island of Guernsey, and leased to tenants, including Lord Magheramorne.

During World War One it was one of the first country mansions to be turned into a Red Cross Convalescent Hospital.

Shrubland Hall - The Tatler Wed 13 Jun 1934 - BNA
June 1934. The Hon. Mrs Saumarez with her elder daughter, Miss Veronica Saumarez, and her sons, Philip and James at Shrubland Park. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

Shrubland Hall - Caters News Agency (6)
Abandoned. Shrubland Hall has several portraits of the Royal Family, including the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge on their wedding day. Ironically, it was the childhood haunt of Roddy Llewellyn, who had an eight-year relationship with Princess Margaret. Image: Caters News Agency.

In 1965, James Victor Broke Saumarez (1924-1991), 6th Baron, opened the house as a health clinic, leaving the family furniture and valuable collections in place. It was the brainchild of Lady de Saumarez, a former Royal Ballet dancer who married into the family and supervised its running. With an emphasis on detox and weight loss, the hall remained unchanged for forty years, and attracted high-profile guests, including actress Joan Collins. When the clinic closed in 2006, the contents were sold, and the house eventually put on the market by Eric Douglas Saumarez (born 1956), 7th Baron de Saumarez, to cover an inheritance tax bill.

Shrubland Hall - Caters News Agency (1)
Abandoned. Shrubland Hall still contains furniture left over from its days as a hotel. Image: Caters News Agency.

Shrubland Hall - Caters News Agency (2)
Abandoned. Overgrown plants are slowly taking over parts of the mansion. Image: Caters News Agency.

Shrubland Hall - Caters News Agency (3)
Abandoned. The furnished property is regally decorated with red sofas, golden gilded doors and chandeliers. Image: Caters News Agency.

In 2009, the Shrubland estate was sold in 42 lots, the house being bought for £6 million by Dr Muhammad Farmer, Chief Executive and founder of the British Institute of Technology and E-Commerce, which used it as residential accommodation.

Shrubland Hall was far too grand. Farmer’s decision to convert the mansion into an extravagant hotel in 2014 should have been a rewarding undertaking, taking “prestigious guests … on a journey back to the future,” but the Shrubland Royale Hotel suffered scathing reviews, quickly closing in 2015.

Shrubland Hall - Caters News Agency (7)
In the outside unkempt grounds of the property sits a cannon from Russian war. Image: Caters News Agency.

Mr Farmer claimed that a “celebrity guest” had booked the entire hotel until the following year. However, by September 2016, signs outside the hall had been removed, the gates were closed and booking attempts were declined.  It went on the market for £6.5 million, but remains unsold despite recent claims from Mr Hubbard that the Hilton hotel franchise were interested in taking over the property. A claim later denied by the hotel operator.

The East Anglian Daily Times visited the Shrubland Park Walk – a public right of way that passes through the grounds – in 2017. “The hall appeared an unlikely retreat for any film or music star. The only sign of activity was an older man chopping wood with a chainsaw. Many of the outbuildings appeared in disrepair and the vast grounds left overgrown.”

Shrubland Hall - Caters News Agency (8)
A statute outside of the palatial mansion is seen in poor condition after the property fell into disrepair. Image: Caters News Agency.

Shrubland Hall - Caters News Agency (9)
Abandoned. Shrubland Hall awaits its fate. The mansion contains 31-bedrooms. Image: Caters News Agency.

Meanwhile, Shrubland Hall deteriorates and following complaints from the parish council, Historic England has visited the house to assess the condition of the gardens and the Grade I listed mansion. The park has been on its Heritage at Risk Register for several years.

Shrubland Hall - Caters News Agency (4)
Shrubland Hall features an elegant room with a 007 plaque on the door. Shrubland Hall was used in the 1983 James Bond film ‘Never Say Never Again.’ Image: Caters News Agency.

BROOKHILL HALL

An oasis in the Derbyshire countryside. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries had a big impact on the landscape, but it remained home to a composer and pianist.

Brookhill Hall - The Tatler - Oct 19 1921 - BNA (1)
Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

Brookhill Hall - The Tatler - Oct 19 1921 - BNA (2)
Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

These photographs of Mrs Sacheverell Coke and her children date from 1921, and were taken by Miss Compton Collier at Brookhill Hall, Pinxton, in Derbyshire.  Mrs Sacheverell Coke was the widow of Lieutenant Langton Sacheverell Coke (1878-1914)  of the Irish Guards, struck in the head with a bullet at Klein Zillebeke, near Ypres, in the first few months of World War One . He was the eldest son of Colonel William Langton Coke and in 1908 married Miss Dorothy Maye Huntingford (1881-1957), daughter of Captain George Huntingford, Royal Navy, of Hampshire.  At one time he had been sub-editor of the Black and White magazine, a British illustrated weekly that was incorporated into The Sphere in 1912.

His heir was the little boy, Roger, seen in these pictures, who was born in 1913, and was now lord of the manor of Pinxton and joint lord of the manor of South Normanton. The little girl’s name was Betty, four years older than her brother.

Brookhill Hall - Notable Derbyshire Houses - Derbyshire Countryside Ltd (1)
The entrance front of Brookhill Hall, Pinxton, in Derbyshire. Brookhill Hall. It dates from the early 17thcentury, and it has been concluded that the surrounding gardens and park were laid out following the inheritance of the estate by the Rev D’Ewes Coke in 1780. The style of the landscape is characteristic of designs by the 18th-century designer William Emes who worked on similar houses in the locality, although no direct evidence has yet been identified to confirm any association with Brookhill Hall. Image: Derbyshire Countryside.

There had been Cokes at Brookhill since the middle of the sixteenth century and the house was essentially Jacobean incorporating parts of an earlier building. Descended from Sir Edward Coke, the Attorney General for Elizabeth I, the family became important landowners, and since 1744 the Earl of Leicester title had been in the family. Until 1567, the house was known as Hill Brook House, and like many family seats, Brookhill had grown up over the centuries with each generation adding its mark.

Brookhill Hall - Notable Derbyshire Houses - Derbyshire Countryside Ltd (4)
Brookhill Hall, Pinxton, Derbyshire. The Dining Room showing a painting of Roger Sacheverell Coke as a boy holding his father’s sword. Image: Derbyshire Countryside.

By the 1960s, Brookhill and its park was stranded in an industrial landscape bounded on one side by nineteenth century developments of Pinxton and the twentieth century M1 motorway, which cut through the park on the other.

Brookhill Hall - Notable Derbyshire Houses - Derbyshire Countryside Ltd (2)
The eighteenth century stable block where Roger Sacheverell Coke, pianist and composer, had his music room. Image: Derbyshire Countryside.

In 1972, Robert Innes-Smith wrote that the most important treasures of Brookhill had been dispersed, but it remained home to Roger Sacheverell Coke, now a distinguished composer and pianist, who did most of his work in his studio in the converted eighteenth-century stable block. For Roger’s 21st birthday, his mother had ordered the Coach House to be turned into an area where all his musical indulgences could be fulfilled.

Roger died in 1972, the house in perilous state, and his heir, Gilbert William Lloyd Darwin, sold the house, but not the estate, to the Cookson family who restored it.

Roger Sacheverell Coke - All Events
Roger Sacheverell Coke (1912-1972) was raised by his mother Dorothy after his father died in combat early in the First World War. Schooled at Eton, Coke later studied composition with Alan Bush, theory with J Frederick Staton, and piano with Mabel Lander (a pupil of Leschetizky). Following his studies, Coke returned to the ancestral home, Brookhill Hall, where his mother converted the coach house and stable block to serve as his music studio and concert hall. This remained his home and the centre of his musical activities for the rest of his life.

Brookhill Hall - Notable Derbyshire Houses - Derbyshire Countryside Ltd (6)
The Music Room in the converted stables at Brookhill Hall. It was later converted into a seven-bedroom property. Image: Derbyshire Countryside.

Brookhill Hall - Notable Derbyshire Houses - Derbyshire Countryside Ltd (5)
The Library, panelled in oak painted white to display the coats of arms of the families allied to the Cokes. Image: Derbyshire Countryside.

Brookhill Hall - Notable Derbyshire Houses - Derbyshire Countryside Ltd (7)
The Inner Hall. Image: Derbyshire Countryside.

Brookhill Hall - Notable Derbyshire Houses - Derbyshire Countryside Ltd (9)
A corner of the Entrance Hall showing a seventeenth century oak Bible box and portrait of Frederick the Great. Image: Derbyshire Countryside.

Brookhill Hall - The Jessop Consultancy (1)
Grade II listed Brookhill Hall today. Early 17th century, extended in the early 18th and early 19 centuries, with late 19th century alterations and porch dated 1898. It is built of coursed squared stone, rubble and red brick, with ashlar dressings, and stone slate roof. Image: The Jessop Consultancy.

Conor Nolan
The Coach House, later a Music Room, on the Brookhill Hall estate, once used as a hunting ground by James I and Charles II. It is difficult to believe that the interiors of the seven-bedroom property, on the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border, were once where groomsmen tended to horses and carriages would be stored. Image: Daily Mail.

Brookhill Hall - Google Maps (1)
Brookhill Hall, Pinxton, Derbyshire. The mansion is at the centre of this satellite photograph. The M1 motorway runs across former parkland. Image: Google Maps.

LILLESHALL HOUSE

January 1919. Lilleshall House is going to auction. These days we know it better as Lilleshall Hall, a famous name in English sport.

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Lilleshall House, once the Shropshire seat of the Duke of Sutherland, situated on a commanding position, with views of the surrounding countryside. Image: Shropshire History.

One hundred years ago, a notice appeared for the sale of Lilleshall House in Shropshire. The selling point for the property was that for many years it had been the home of the Dukes of Sutherland. However, by this time, the house was surplus to requirement. It had been sold privately for £45,000 in 1917, and was now being offered for £20,000. At the June sale it became the property of  Sir John Leigh for the next few years.

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Lilleshall House. A newspaper sale advertisement from January 1919. It was bought by Sir John Leigh. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

Sir John Leigh, 1st Baronet (of Altrincham) (1884-1959) was a British mill-owner, who used his fortune to buy the Pall Mall Gazette and launch his career as a Conservative Party politician. He had made his money in the Lancashire cotton industry and was made a baronet in 1918. He was rumoured at the time to be worth £14 million. He was elected as MP for the Clapham division of Wandsworth at a by-election in May 1922, and held the seat until he retired from politics at the 1945 general election.

lilleshall hall - shropshire history 1
A watercolour of Lilleshall House. It was built to the designs of Sir Jeffry Wyattville, The terrace commanded a magnificent view of the park. Image: Shropshire History.

The Lilleshall estate’s origins went back to the 12th century when Lilleshall Abbey , an Augustan foundation, was built. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries the land was awarded to James Leveson, a Wolverhampton wool merchant in 1539. The estates later passed to Richard Leveson, a distant cousin who was a prominent Royalist in the English Civil War and fortified the Abbey, inviting a severe bombardment. As he too failed to produce heirs, Lilleshall then passed to Sir William Leveson-Gower, 4th Baronet, founder of an illustrious political dynasty, who married Lady Jane Granville, daughter of the Earl of Bath.

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The Duke of Sutherland put Lilleshall House up for auction in July 1917. The sale was handled by Knight, Frank and Rutley. The house had twenty-one principal bedrooms and dressing rooms. Image: Shropshire History.

The first of the family to be ennobled, in 1703, was John Leveson-Gower, 1st Baron Gower. His son and grandson, John Leveson-Gower, 1st Earl Gower, and Granville Leveson-Gower, 1st Marquess of Stafford, progressed further up the ranks of the English peerage.  The title of the Duke of Sutherland  was created by William IV in 1833 for George Granville Leveson-Gower (1758-1833), 2nd Marquess of Stafford.

An existing mid-18th century mansion at Lilleshall was considered too small, but it was not until the 1820s that George Granville Leveson-Gower instructed the architect Sir Jeffry Wyatville to start work on the present house. It was completed in 1829, four years before the newly elevated Duke of Sutherland’s death.

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An aerial view of Lilleshall House in the mid-twentieth century. Image: Shropshire History.

In 1914, a year after George Granville Sutherland-Leveson-Gower (1888 -1963), 5th Duke of Sutherland, had succeeded to the title, he decided to break up his estates. During his father’s tenure there were several properties, including Stafford House at St. James’s, Trentham Hall in Staffordshire, Tittenson Chase, Stoke-on-Trent, Dunrobin Castle and the House of Tongue in Sutherland. Trentham Hall had been offered to Stoke-on-Trent Council, but it had refused it, and was subsequently sold to contractors for demolition.

His father had started to sell his Shropshire lands in 1912 – £281,000 worth of them. In 1914, the 5th Duke pocketed £116,000 and, in July 1917, he sold Lilleshall House for £45,000, and 6,200 acres besides in small lots. About 1,150 acres of land were purchased by the Board of Agriculture for the purpose of a farm colony for soldiers and sailors. In total, the Duke of Sutherland raised over £300,000 for the sale of the estate.

The identity of the 1917 purchaser was shrouded in mystery. The Tatler reported that Lilleshall House had gone to “a great north country munition millionaire who hails from Birmingham.” By October, his identity had been revealed as George F. Heath, head of George Heath Ltd, automobile engineers and motor car dealers.

Whether he intended to live here or not is a matter of speculation, or perhaps he sensed a quick profit on his investment. But, by the end of  1917, George Heath had unexpectedly put Lilleshall House back on the market.

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Lilleshall House was sold by the Duke of Sutherland in July 1917, and the contents were finally sold at auction on 13 December by Christies. It later emerged that the sale of the house was due to the heavy burden of taxation and death duties. Image: The British Newspaper Archive.

The House went to auction in 1918, but failed to sell. A years later, in 1919, Lilleshall House did find a buyer, this time it was Sir John Leigh.

“Estate-selling proceeds apace. Lilleshall and the Sutherland family are no longer connected, except as a memory. Sir John Leigh is the owner of the Duke of Sutherland’s Shropshire property, and so another ‘stately home of England’ has changed hands. There are no better specimens of Elizabethan architecture in the country than Lilleshall, where King Edward was a frequent guest when the beautiful wife of the late Duke was one of the hostesses for invitations to whose entertainments Society itself was not ashamed to scramble. The place is rich in historic associations, and it is therefore satisfactory to know that Lilleshall Abbey, a gem of Norman architecture, will still be open to the tourist and antiquary, and Sir John has already announced that he has no intention of curtailing any of the privileges hitherto enjoyed by the public.” – The Sketch, June 1919.

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The Grand Hall and Staircase at Lilleshall House in 1917. Image: Shropshire History.

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The Red Drawing Room at Lilleshall House. Image: Shropshire History.

Lilleshall House was sold in 1927 to Herbert Ford (1893-1963), a local man with a shrewd eye for business. He’d acquired his wealth from the industry of the Ironbridge Gorge and from a wealthy wife, who was a member of the Lea and Perrins family, famous for their Worcestershire Sauce.

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The Drawing Room at Lilleshall House. Image: Shropshire History.

Like many others before him, Herbert Ford believed that Lilleshall House might make money for him. Although resident in the house he turned the estate into a tourist attraction, and from 1930 until 1939  the hall had pleasure gardens for the public, including an amusement park, a narrow gauge railway, tea dances, and children’s playgrounds. There were even motor-cycle races in the grounds. He added an additional nine holes on the existing nine-hole golf course, designed by the noted golf course architect, Harry Colt, which later became the Lilleshall Hall Golf Club. However, it was not played on for 20 years owing to a rent dispute with farmers that resulted in cattle on the course. He even increased attendance by advertising that the German airship Hindenburg would fly over the estate even when its route was nowhere near; he explained that the lack of an airship was due to bad weather in a self-sent telegram.

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The Dining Room at Lilleshall House. Image: Shropshire History.

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Lilleshall House. The Billiard Room. Image: Shropshire History.

The pleasure gardens closed at the outbreak of World War Two and the house and parkland were occupied by the Cheltenham Ladies’ College and later Dr Barnardo’s, who used the facilities as an orphanage.

When war ended, Lilleshall House faced a precarious future. The house had fallen into decline and the cost of repair was far greater than Herbert Ford could manage. In 1949 he sold house and 10 acres for £30,000 to the Central Council of Physical Recreation who wanted to build a National Recreation Centre for the north of England.  The sale was made possible by the ‘Aid to Britain’ scheme, sponsored by South Africa, a financial gift to Clement Attlee’s government.

It was probably about this time that Lilleshall House became better known as Lilleshall Hall, although the house had been called both names over time. Ford later gave the facility an extra 10 acres of land, on condition that his family could stay in a flat within Lilleshall Hall for at least another ten years or until his death. He passed away here in 1963.

During the 1960s, Lilleshall’s connection with Association Football brought the centre to the attention of the nation. The England team trained for two weeks at Lilleshall prior to their success in the World Cup of 1966.

The centre passed to the Sports Council in 1974 and many different sports established Lilleshall as their own national and regional coaching centre. The Football Association’s School of Excellence was established at Lilleshall in 1984 and closed in the summer of 1999. Today, Lilleshall Hall is operated by Serco Leisure Operating Ltd on behalf of Sport England, as one of three National Sports Centres, alongside Bisham Abbey and Plas y Brenin.

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Lilleshall House is better known today as Lilleshall Hall. It is regularly used by National Governing Bodies of Sport, Sporting Associations and other Professional Sports Clubs and high-profile teams on both a national and international basis.

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.