Renishaw, Cusworth, Brodsworth, Nostell Priory & Wentworth Woodhouse

Grid Ref: On each picture
Dates: 1st, 2nd & 3rd July 2016


Renishaw Hall: Grid Ref: SK432 784

Renishaw Hall is a Grade I listed building south-east of Sheffield, and north of Renishaw village, which is north-east of Chesterfield. It has been the home of the Sitwell family for over 350 years. The house was built in 1625 by George Sitwell (1601–67) who, in 1653, was High Sheriff of Derbyshire. The Sitwell fortune was made as colliery owners and ironmasters from the 17th to the 20th centuries.

Substantial alterations and the addition of the west and east ranges were made to the building for Sir Sitwell Sitwell by Joseph Badger of Sheffield between 1793 and 1808 and further alterations were made in 1908 by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Renishaw had two owners between 1862 (when Sir George Sitwell succeeded in his infancy) and 1965, when Sir Osbert Sitwell gave the house to his nephew, Sir Reresby Sitwell, 7th Baronet. He was the eldest son of Sir Sacheverell Sitwell brother of Edith and Osbert and owned the hall from 1965 until 2009 when he bequeathed it to his daughter, Alexandra Hayward. The house and estate are separated from the Renishaw baronetcy for the first time in the family's history. (From Wikipedia)



Cusworth Hall: Grid Ref: SE548 040

Cusworth Hall is an 18th-century Grade I listed country house in Cusworth, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire. It is now a country house museum.

The Wrightson family had held the lordship of Cusworth since 1669. The present house was built in 1740-1745 by George Platt for William Wrightson to replace a previous house and was further altered in 1749-1753 by James Paine. On William's death in 1760 the property passed to his daughter Isabella, who had married John Battie, who took the additional name of Wrightson in 1766. He employed the landscape designer Richard Woods to remodel the park. Woods created a park of 250 acres with a hanging and a serpentine river consisting of three lakes embellished with decorative features such as the Rock Arch and the Cascade.

The estate afterwards passed to John and Isabella's son, William Wrightson (1752-1827), who was the MP for Aylesbury from 1784-1790 and High Sheriff of Yorkshire for 1819–1820. He was succeeded by his son William Battie-Wrightson (1789–1879), who at various times was MP for East Retford, Hull and Northallerton. He died childless and Cusworth Hall passed to his brother Richard Heber Wrightson, who died in 1891.

The property was then inherited by his nephew William Henry Thomas, who took the surname Battie-Wrightson by Royal Licence and died in 1903. He had married Lady Isabella Cecil, eldest daughter of the 3rd Marquess of Exeter. Between 1903 and 1909 Lady Isabella made further alterations to the house. She died in 1917, leaving an only son Robert Cecil Battie-Wrightson (1888-1952). On his death in 1952, the estate descended to his sister, a nurse who had married a Major Oswald Parker but later was variously known as Miss Maureen Pearse-Brown and as Mrs Pearce. She was obliged to sell the contents of Cusworth Hall in October 1952 to meet the death duties levied at Robert Cecil's death. She subsequently sold the hall to Doncaster Council. (From Wikipedia)



Brodsworth Hall: Grid Ref: SE 507 069

Brodsworth Hall, is a grade I listed house near Brodsworth, lying 5 miles (8.0 km) north west of Doncaster in South Yorkshire. It is one of the most complete surviving examples of a Victorian country house in England. being virtually unchanged since the 1860s. It was designed in the Italianate style by the London architect Philip Wilkinson, then 26 years old. He was commissioned for the grand residence by Charles Sabine Augustus Thellusson, who inherited the estate in 1859. The house has more than 30 rooms, ranging from grand reception rooms with original furnishings to the servants' quarters. The house is surrounded by Victorian period gardens, which are used for special events throughout the summer. The property is now in the care of English Heritage and was undergoing considerable alterations inside when I visited in July 2016.

George Henry Hay, 8th Earl of Kinnoull bought the Brodsworth estate from Sir John Wentworth in 1713 and rebuilt the house, but lost his money in the 1720 crash and was obliged to take the position of Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. His second son Robert Hay Drummond took up residence on the estate instead when he was made Archbishop of York in 1761 and made a number of improvements to the house and grounds. On his death in 1777 the house was left empty and when his eldest son became the 10th Earl of Kinnoull in 1787 he sold the estate in 1790 to Peter Thellusson (1737–1797).

Peter Thellusson had come from the Continent and settled in England, becoming a director of the Bank of England and a tobacco and sugar importer. He wrote an unusual will, unsuccessfully challenged by his family in the Thellusson Will Case, whereby his fortune was put in trust to be untouched for three generations. One of the two eventual beneficiaries was his great-grandson Charles Sabine Augustus Thellusson (the other was the 5th Lord Rendlesham), who inherited in 1859 half the bequest plus the Brodsworth estate with its Georgian house. He demolished the existing house and commissioned the present one, which was built in two years between 1861 and 1863 (and also commissioned the largest private British yacht ever built). He was appointed High Sheriff of Yorkshire for 1866–67. He and his wife Georgiana left four sons, all of whom died childless, and the house therefore passed to each son in turn. After the First World War, spiralling costs resulted in the owners' closing off parts of the house. On the death of the youngest son the house passed to his nephew Captain Grant-Dalton around 1930. He was High Sheriff for 1942.

The last resident of the house was Sylvia Grant-Dalton (wife of Captain Grant-Dalton), who fought a losing battle for 57 years against leaking roofs on the mansion and land subsidence from nearby coal mining. After her death in 1988, English Heritage acquired the house and decided to conserve the interiors "as found" rather than replacing or restoring them. They demonstrate how a once opulent Victorian house grew "comfortably" old.

Lord Markham built the model village Woodlands for the miners at Brodsworth Colliery, who sank the pit in 1905. The colliery operated until the 1990s. The Thellusson family, who leased the land and mineral rights to the colliery company, paid for the construction of All Saints Church (1913) for the village. (From Wikipedia)



Nostell Priory : Grid Ref: SE 404 175

Nostell Priory is a Palladian house located in Nostell, close to Wakefield, West Yorkshire. The Priory and its contents were given to the National Trust in 1953 by the trustees of the estate and Rowland Winn, 3rd Baron St Oswald.

The property was owned by the Gargrave family after being purchased in 1567 by Sir Thomas Gargrave, Speaker of the House of Commons from James Blount, 6th Baron Mountjoy, for £3,560. The estate was purchased in 1654 by the London alderman, Sir Rowland Winn, after the owner was declared bankrupt in 1650. Construction of the present house started in 1733, and the furniture, furnishings and decorations made for the house remain in situ. The Winns were textile merchants in London, George Wynne of Gwydir was appointed Draper to Elizabeth I, his grandson, Sir George Winn was created 1st Baronet of Nostell in 1660 and the family subsequently owed its wealth to the coal under the estate, and later from leasing land in Lincolnshire for mining iron ore during the Industrial Revolution.

The current house was built in 1733 by James Paine for Sir Rowland Winn 4th Bart on the site of a 12th-century priory dedicated to Saint Oswald. Robert Adam was commissioned to design additional wings, only one of which was completed, and complete the state rooms. Adam added a double staircase to the front of the house, and designed buildings on the estate, including the stable block. Nostell Priory is home to a large collection of Chippendale furniture, all made for the house. Thomas Chippendale was born in Otley in 1718 and had workshops in St Martins Lane, London. (From Wikipedia)


Wentworth Woodhouse
The central section of the frontage of Wentworth Woodhouse: Grid Ref:SK 396 977
Wentworth Woodhouse
The complete frontage of Wentworth Woodhouse

Wentworth Woodhouse is a Grade I listed country house in the village of Wentworth, near Rotherham in South Yorkshire. It is the largest private house in the United Kingdom, and, with an east front of 606 feet (185 m), has the longest country house façade in Europe. The house has more than 300 rooms, although the precise number is unclear. It covers an area of more than 2.5 acres (1.0 ha), and is surrounded by a 180-acre (73 ha) park, and an estate of 15,000 acres (6,100 ha).

The original Jacobean house was rebuilt by Thomas Watson-Wentworth, 1st Marquess of Rockingham (1693–1750), and vastly expanded by his son, the 2nd Marquess, who was twice Prime Minister, and who established Wentworth Woodhouse as a Whig centre of influence. In the 18th century, the house was inherited by the Earls Fitzwilliam who owned it until 1979, when it passed to the heirs of the 8th and 10th Earls, its value having appreciated from the large quantities of coal discovered on the estate.

The house had an unusual fate after the Second World War. In April 1946, on the orders of Manny Shinwell (the then Labour Party's Minister of Fuel and Power) a "column of lorries and heavy plant machinery" arrived at Wentworth. The objective was the mining of a large part of the estate close to the house for coal. This was an area where the prolific Barnsley seam was within 100 feet (30 m) of the surface and the area between the house and the Rockingham Mausoleum became the largest open cast mining site in Britain at that time: 132,000 tons of coal were removed solely from the gardens. Ostensibly the coal was desperately needed in Britain's austere post-war economy to fuel the railways, but the decision has been, and is, widely seen as useful cover for an act of class-war spite against the coal-owning aristocracy. A survey by Sheffield University, commissioned by Peter Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, the 8th Earl, found the quality of the coal as "very poor stuff" and "not worth the getting"; this contrasted to Shinwell's assertion that it was "exceptionally good-quality."

On my visit in 2016 the grounds to the rear have been restored and one would not know of the opencast mining. However, the house has suffered subsidence as a result of mining.

From 1949 to 1979, the house was home to the Lady Mabel College of Physical Education, which trained female physical education teachers. The college later merged with Sheffield City Polytechnic (now Sheffield Hallam University), which eventually gave up the lease in 1988 due to high maintenance costs. In 2016 it was announced that Wentworth Woodhouse had been bought by The Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust which plans major restoration work.

(Abridged from Wikipedia)

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