Harewood Castle and All Saints church update added June 15, 2008
Leeds, which is situated by the Aire River, is the capital city of West Yorkshire and demographically third in line to being one of Britian’s largest provincial industrial cities. It came into full prosperity at the turn of the twentieth century. The restored shopping arcades are magnificent to walk through. The Town Hall’s marvelous colonnaded exterior is the town symbol and was designed by Cuthbert Brodrick mid-19th century and was christened by Queen Victoria. The opera company Opera North holds their prestigious productions at The Grand. The City Art Gallery contains the best examples of twentieth century art by local artists as well as some of the best French Impressionists, such as Sisley (a favorite of mine!) and Courbet, and Armley Mill Museum along with Tropical World serves up the city’s industrial heritage and flora and fauna of a rainforest.
Moving towards Harrogate, not fifteen minutes from Leeds Town Center, Harewood House displays exquisite Palladian renaissance architecture which combines Classical and Italianate stylings. It was originally designed by John Carr and Robert Adam circa 1759 for the Lascelles family and is currently the home of Her Majesty’s cousin, the Earl of Harewood. This edifice is one of nine stately mansions which are members of Treasure Houses of England. Sir Charles Barry altered the original facades by adding a grand terrace and an extra story to the pavilions. The information for this is expounded upon in the book “A Complete History of the County of York” by Thomas Allen. The Earl’s mother, HRH Princess Mary (and Princess Royal) was the daughter of King George V (and became, of course, Queen Mary) lived at Harewood for thirty five of her years. Her memorabilia is still displayed in the rooms she occupied. Much of the decoration makes use of elaborate Adam interiors with Chippendale furniture throughout and also contains Italian Renaissance pieces, Turner watercolors and a Chippendale State Bed which wasn’t displayed for 150 years but has been restored recently. The grounds were developed by Capability Brown, of course, and it includes the exotic Harewood Bird Garden with rare and native species available to see. It’s official site is www.harewood.org/welcome
The twin towers known today as Harewood Castle are still seated on the drive along Harrogate Road and are the remains of a pre-Norman invasion Saxon Chieftan stronghold of Tor, Sprot and Grim. These lands were granted to a Norman nobleman by the name of Robert de Romelli who had Robert de Lisle build a castle in the 12th century at the extreme north of the village which is now a prosperous market town. By 1365, Harewood passed into the hands of Sir William Aldeburgh, Edward Balliol’s messenger. The Scottish King is said to have taken refuge there and his arms along with Aldeburgh’s are still visible on the remaining castle walls.
Aldeburgh was given license to crenellate in 1366 and built a rectangular tower house on the steep slope with two storeys flanked with four towers, one of which was the entrance and had a porticullis chamber crowned with a chapel. The kitchen in the lower portion had four storeys with a barrel-vaulted basement containing a well. Evidence of an outer bailey is visible in earthworks to the northeast. The last known owners were the Strafords which abandoned the castle by mid-17th century and much of its stone was used to build village buildings. It remained a landmark and was the subject of several Turner paintings in the late 1790s. By the year 2000 it was placed on the Buildings at Risk by English Heritage and as a result a 1 million pound rescue plan was drawn up by the said historical preservation society and the Harewood Estate. The restoration is now coming near to completion and it has been taken off the list for Buildings at Risk. The next stage will be in making it safely possible to be viewed and visited by the public.
All Saints, the church on Harewood’s estate, is a pre-Norman edifice, as well, which was rebuilt in 1410 specifically to house the grand-daughters of Aldeburgh in alabaster tombs and effigies dating from 1419 to 1510. Further restorations were carried out in the 18th and 19th centuries, most notably the last by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1862-63. As churches go it is devoid of decorative carving or ecclesiastical design but provides a unique display of costume, armour and funerary design which was popular during the Victorian years. It is in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust and can be visited from 10-6 April- October each year 7 days a week. 0113288 6331
Stockeld Park is situated in an easterly direction from Harewood and practically a neighbor to Spofforth Castle. It’s a beautifully done Palladian manor home which was designed by James Paine (1717-1784) in 1763. He was responsible for the building of twenty four properties, among them were Raby Castle, Allerton Park and Alnwick. The features of Stockeld Park include dovecote, garden, lodges, pleasure grounds, a ha-ha ( a sunken garden), walled garden and thatched timber loggia. The interiors feature a cantilevered staircase ( an architectural rarity), 18th and 19th century furniture and art.
From Stockeld, south to Wetherby, Bramham Park is a delightful Queen Anne manor house surrounded by magnificently sprawling landscaping. Built by Lord Bingley it has been in possession of the same family for three hundred years (ten generations.) There is no interior admission but the sixty-six acres of flora, fauna, temples, ponds and picturesque views will delight your eye, anyway.
Now, further south and slightly over the W. Yorkshire border (neighbor to Cawood Castle!) Lotherton Hall, in Aberford is a magnificently galleried renaissance Edwardian manor. The Gascoigne family built this just prior to the first World War and the collection of furniture, silverware, fine porcelain, paintings and sculpture creates great charm and character to the interiors. Even authentic period costume is included in the collections, in the Costume Gallery, which features exhibits on fashion topics on a continual basis. The Nightingale Gallery features local artists. These are provided by the Leeds City council which took over Lotherton Hall in 1968.
On the southeast corner of the West Yorkshire border Ledston Hall and Pontefract Castle provide a wonderful contrast of architectural eras. (Ledston being a 17th century manor house built onto an earlier edifice.) The Hall is two miles north of Castleford on Hall Lane and offers free admission to walk the grounds and view the exterior from May to August.
Pontefract Castle is another thirteenth century keep with Norman beginnings ranking in size and strength with the large royal castles of the North. It became a royal castle in 1399 upon the accession of Henry Bolingbroke and it was originally one of William the Conqueror’s castles. At that time it was one of the most important fortresses in the country. Its quatrefoil keep is much like the rebuilt Clifford’s Tower at York (which was named after Roger de Clifford who was hanged there in 1322.) Cromwell considered Pontefract to be one of the strongest inland “garrisons of the Kingdom”. It was surrounded by water and built on rock throughout which made it difficult to mine. The walls were exceptionally thick and high and also had very strong towers. The steepness of the graft made it nearly impossible to batter or even access. Cromwell’s cannons were useless against it and he even tried bribery to no avail! His siege covered a year’s time and only surrendered because they had finally depleted their supplies. When it was finally slighted, in 1649, it was almost a complete job, leaving only remains of key walling and the base of the tower. Richard II was put to death and was a deciding factor in their succombing to Cromwell’s siege. See www.twixtaireandcalder.org.uk for more info.
Pontefract Museum on Salter Row T-01977 722740
West of Pontefract, Nostell Priory, while not a castle, per se, is an excellent example of James Paine’s (Stockeld Park) architectural magic which he created in the eighteenth century for Sir Roland Winn over a medieval priory. Robert Adam was brought in to complete the interiors, and it features some of the finest Chippendale furniture in England.
Longley Old Hall faces Castle Hill and it’s just southeast of Huddersfield twenty miles west of Pontefract Castle. It is an “H” plan house, which is a long hall flanked by two cross wings. This manor house has a history dating from 1338 with several families gaining control of it throughout four centuries. (The Ramsden family, the Lords of the Manors of Huddersfield and Almondbury.) Cicely del Wode was born at the house in 1506. There is an Elizabethan Garden currently under construction. www.longleyoldhall.co.uk/index.html T-01484 430852
Head directly north up to Halifax (means Holy Face, because it is believed that the head of John the Baptist is buried there!) to the home of Anne Lister, a notorious diarist, to see Shibden Hall. You will be pleasantly surprised at this half timbered Tudor mansion. It is set in 90 acres of landscaped parkland just east of Halifax off A58. It offered six hundred years of history and authentic and unusual interior.
Cliffe Castle is far north of Halifax, close by the Brontee Museum, less than a mile northwest of Keighley and is a Victorian mansion commissioned by Christopher Netherwood, a local lawyer, to be built by George Wester of Kendal. It was finished for habitation in 1833. Later on it was purchased by a textile manufacturer, H.I. Butterfield who transformed the grounds from a mere twenty acres to three hundred!
Just a little northeast, The National Trust’s East Riddlesden Hall, neighbor to the Brontees Haworth House, was the film location for the 1992 remake of Wuthering Heights! This marvel of a 17th century manor house has an even more impressive interior, with embroideries, textiles, carved oak furniture and beautiful ceilings. The gardens vie with the interiors in elaboration of flowers, herbs, an apple orchard, grass maze and a duck pond. Many events are scheduled here so it’s best to call for small tours. T-01535 607075
Heading back south for the center of West Yorkshire, Bolling Hall, one mile south of the city centre of Bradford is a renaissance castle which has retained a medieval tower along with 17th century additions. It was always a residence and each section of the house is furnished to match with its period in history.
A little further afield southeast you’ll find Oakwell Hall and Red House at Gomerseal. Both are owned by Kirklees Cultural Services. Red House has the distinction of being the home of Mary Taylor, Charlotte Brontee’s closest friend and Charlotte visited her often in the 1830s. In her last novel “Shirley” the Taylor family appeared as the Yorke family. Brought up to the period, this house captures the essence of the time and received an Interpret Britain Award in 1999.
The Castle Lady sends a big wet one your way..
when in doubt… dance…dance…dance…