A salute to determination: Goldsborough Hall, Yorkshire

Goldsborough Hall, Yorkshire (Image: Goldsborough Hall)
Goldsborough Hall, Yorkshire (Image: Goldsborough Hall)

Love is a strange emotion which by chance can leave a person very attached to something.  For Clare and Mark Oglesby the object of their affections is the elegant Goldsborough Hall in Yorkshire, which, after five years hard work and a substantial budget has been rescued from dereliction and possible development.

Goldsborough Hall was built between 1601-1625 for Sir Richard Hutton, a London judge who used his wealth to establish himself in Yorkshire and was High Sheriff in 1623.  The internal plan of the house is interesting as it features a lateral corridor on all three floors and originally included fashionable features Sir Richard probably learnt of from his London friends such as a long gallery which useful for exercise in the inclement weather. Slightly unusually it was on the first floor (though not uniquely as Beaudesert, Condover Hall, and Treowen House also have this) when they were normally on the upper floors as, high up, their excess of glass gave visitors the most impressive view of the house – see, most famously, ‘Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall’.

The house was then rebuilt in the mid 18th-century for Richard Byerley before being bought by the Earls of Harewood, the Lascelles family, who employed the famous architect John Carr of York to remodel the interior in 1764-5, whilst he was also working on their main house, Harewood.  Goldsborough features numerous mementos of the family with their crest embedded in rainwater heads and in stained glass.  The house remained in the Lascelles family until 1965 when it was sold to pay death duties.  It then became a school, a private home, a hotel and then nursing home before being put up for sale in 2003 when the Oglesby’s first saw it but had their offer rejected.  At that time the house was still in good condition but this had changed dramatically when the estate agent contacted them again in 2005 to say it was between them and a developer. They successfully bid but now, just two years later, water was running down the 17th-century oak staircase and the panelling in the library, and the house lacked heating or working plumbing.  Undaunted, over the last five years they have spent around £2m on the restoration which has now rescued this wonderful house from ruin and is back to being a family home which pays it way by hosting weddings.

Rise Hall, Yorkshire (Image: Pastscape)
Rise Hall, Yorkshire (Image: Pastscape)

Another house which needed work and has now been restored explicitly as a wedding venue and family home is Rise Hall, also in Yorkshire.  Set in a beautiful small park laid in the 1770s, the grade-II* listed seat of the Bethell family was rebuilt between 1815-25, though the architect is disputed with some claiming it’s by Robert Abraham (whose eldest daughter was conveniently married to the owner, Baron Westbury) but more likely, as given by Howard Colvin, it was by Watson & Pritchard who also designed a Doric lodge for the house in 1818.  The slightly austere, 9-bay ashlar Georgian facade is dramatically enlivened by a full-height, tetra-style Ionic portico.  Inside the house features a top-lit staircase hall and some neoclassical decoration with an Adam-style dining room.  The house remained in the Bethell family until 1946 when they moved into the former rectory, now Rise Park, and let the house to the Canonesses Regular of St. Augustine, who ran a Catholic boarding school there until 1998.

The house was then bought as a second home by Sarah Beeny, star of many property restoration TV shows.  She and her husband used the house for many years but realised that the 97-room house was simply too large to function as just a weekend retreat and it also needed to pay for its own restoration. Beeny seems to take a rather hard-headed approach – unsurprisingly given her background – but is committed to achieving the right result. The location ruled out use as a hotel so they decided that they would convert it into a wedding venue in just eight months as part of a TV show called ‘Beeny’s Folly‘ which will be broadcast in Autumn 2010 on Channel 4.  This will be a chance for the wider public to get a real insight into just how much work is required to restore and maintain a stately home.  Who knows, it might even inspire someone with deep pockets and hopefully a sympathetic attitude, to find and fall in love with a one of our other country houses at risk and bring it back to life as a home.

Full story on Goldsborough Hall: ‘We’ve moved from our 4-bed detached to an 80-room stately home‘ [Daily Express]

Official website: ‘Goldsborough Hall

Detailed architectural description: ‘Rise Hall, Yorkshire

More buildings at risk: ‘Live and Let Die – 2010 Buildings at Risk Register‘ [SAVE Britain’s Heritage]

11 thoughts on “A salute to determination: Goldsborough Hall, Yorkshire

  1. Andrew September 2, 2010 / 14:24

    The key to the success of both Goldsborough and Rise Halls restoration was sufficient money for the projects, regardless of the prevailing economic conditions. Mark Oglesby had millions from the sale of his efax.co.uk company to j2 Global Communications (eFax.com) in 2005, and Sarah Beeny had a TV-presenter income, the sale proceeds from the TV series “Beeny’s Folly” based on the Rise conversion and broad experience in the property restoration market.

    These examples stand in stark contrast to the story of Bylaugh Hall (pronounced bee-la) in Norfolk (http://www.bylaugh.com). Its £10m restoration by international sculptor Stephen Vince (http://www.stephenvince.com) and his wife Mafalda (Muffy) Vince from a ruined shell in 2000 was funded primarily by £9m of bank and mortgage debt. They were about three-quarters of the way through the project when the banks repossessed it in 2007-8, at the start of the recession and banking liquidity crisis, although problems had begun back in 2005 when one of their companies was wound up owing £190,000, with Stephen Vince suspended from acting as a company director. The case of Bylaugh (also http://www.bylaugh.info, http://www.englandweddings.com, http://www.weddingsvenue.co.uk, http://www.littlebigben.com, http://www.groupcottages.com) was further complicated because the Hall had been split into separate titles with different loans. Hence, only part of the main Hall building (the mostly complete ground floor and the derelict basement) was repossessed, leaving the East Wing (Orangery and service wing) still in the control of the Vinces. These problems were compounded by the loss of substantial deposits made by couples for their weddings in the main part of the Hall, venting their anger and frustration in 2009 via websites (http://www.bylaughhall.co.uk, http://bylaughhall.blogspot.com) and press (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/8091317.stm, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/norfolk/8089742.stm, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/5485989/Couples-lose-deposits-as-country-house-wedding-venue-repossessed.html). The saga and stalemate continues as the various lenders try to agree on a solution …

  2. Andrew September 8, 2010 / 09:41

    Thanks for the Bylaugh Hall links, Phillip. The 38 photos in the 1st link (at the top of its screen) show the extent of the work completed in the service wing, but obviously nothing about the main Hall. Interesting how they are using the apparently fictitious Blythe Estate name and the regional Breckland district location, rather than Bylaugh, and not mentioning the owner’s name, to avoid any association with the past problems.

    Google satellite view of Bylaugh Hall (about 4 years ago):

  3. Andrew October 16, 2010 / 15:35

    BBC2’s Wonderland episode on Wednesday 20 October 2010 at 9-10pm is “High Society Brides” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vhvw6), which follows the lives of 5 ladies from country seats whose engagement photograph appeared on the “Girls in Pearls” frontispiece page of Country Life magazine during the last 50 years, with a follow-up article in Country Life on the same day (http://www.countrylife.co.uk/countryside/article/502717/Country-Life-on-the-BBC.html):
    * Henrietta Tiarks (1960) married the Marquess of Tavistock, later the 14th Duke of Bedford, of Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire (http://www.woburn.co.uk/abbey), who also had their own BBC2 reality TV series on life at Woburn called “Country House”, in 3 series during 1999-2002 (http://www.tigeraspect.co.uk/?cat=155).
    * Sally Cochrane (1970) married Alistair Milne-Home, son of the land agent to the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, who owns Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfriesshire (http://www.drumlanrig.com), Dalkeith Palace in Midlothian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalkeith_Palace), Bowhill House in the Scottish Borders (http://www.bowhill.org) and Boughton House in Northamptonshire (http://www.boughtonhouse.org.uk/htm/boughtonhouse.htm).
    * Catherine (Kate) Sackville-West (1980) was the daughter of the 6th Baron Sackville and grew up at the National Trust house Knole in Kent (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/knole), the third largest house in England.
    * Camilla Birtwistle (1980) married Myles Sandys of Graythwaite Hall in Cumbria (http://www.graythwaiteholidays.co.uk), with its 5,000-acre Lake District estate.
    * Arabella Romilly (1990) was the daughter of the Marchioness of Ailesbury, the family seat of the Marquess of Ailesbury (and his son the Earl of Cardigan) being Tottenham House in Wiltshire (http://www.savernakeclub.com/history.htm), which has had its restoration delayed until at least 2012 by the joint venture consortium who have a 150-year lease of the house and are converting it into a £50m resort hotel and golf course.

  4. Andrew November 24, 2010 / 09:42

    The Rise Hall restoration by Sarah Beeny is also detailed on its website:
    If you missed the 1st of the 3 episodes in the Channel 4 TV series “Beeny’s Restoration Nightmare” (originally called “Beeny’s Folly”) aired on Thursday 18 November, you can watch it here:
    The 2nd episode is tomorrow night, Thursday 25 November, at 8pm, with the final episode details as follows:
    The Channel 4 home page for the TV series is:

    • countryhouses December 3, 2010 / 00:04

      To be fair, as they are married she does own at least 48.5 rooms of it in the eyes of the law. It’s been a fascinating program – though she seems to have had a surprisingly easy ride from the planners/heritage officers considering its grade-II* listing. All credit to her, I may not agree with some of the stylistic choices but she’s done a great job of taking an underused country house with some worrying and potentially serious issues and restored it into a functioning home and venue. Hopefully it will inspire others who will take a similarly sympathetic line with some of our other country houses at risk.

  5. Andrew December 11, 2010 / 08:36

    Restoration Home is the new BBC2/Endemol TV series of 6 x 60-minute episodes to be broadcast late in 2011 and presented by Caroline Quentin (star of Men Behaving Badly and Jonathan Creek), being a spin-off from the original three Restoration series in 2003-6 also made by Endemol but hosted by Griff Rhys Jones. It will follow private home owners as they restore crumbling historic buildings, saving them from ruin and restoring them into 21st century homes, while addressing the difficult decisions about what should be saved and what can be sacrificed. The series will feature contributions from Kieran Long (Editor of the Architects’ Journal) and social historian Dr. Kate Williams (author of Becoming Queen), although I’m not sure of Quentin’s credibility in the restoration area, as at least Rhys Jones had considerable personal experience in restoring listed buildings. Endemol UK’s production arm Remarkable Television is currently looking for properties to feature in the new series, so any budding restorers with projects of any size that are starting work sometime over the next year should contact Natasha Evans at Endemol (phone 0208 222 4326 or email natasha.evans@endemoluk.com).

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