Outside Visits

Sion Hill Hall, Near Thirsk

Sion Hill Hall
Sion Hill Hall Entrance
Sion Hill Hall garden

Tuesday 14th July, 2020

Sion Hill Hall is one of the last Edwardian stately homes to be built in Yorkshire before the Great War. It is a Grade II* Arts and Crafts inspired country house with outstanding neo-Georgian detail, standing in 5 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, and designed in 1913 by the renowned local architect Walter Brierley of York – dubbed as the ‘Lutyens of the North’.

It stands on the original site of the 13thcentury manor of Kirby Wiske, near Thirsk, where the house changed ownership for over 600 years, ending up in the ownership of the Lascelles family of Harewood, who sold a decaying Georgian mansion  in 1911 to Percy Stancliffe, the commissioner of the present house by Brierley.

In 1962, Sion Hill Hall was bought by a Yorkshire businessman, Herbert William Mawer, who was an enthusiastic collector of antiques, filling the house with mainly French furniture and porcelain. Eager to keep the house and fine art collection together as a lasting memorial to his achievements, Mawer established a Charitable Trust, which in turn passed to the current incumbent of the Hall, Michael Mallaby, who has an equal passion for buying and  selling antiques, as we shall see on  our tour of the house by Mr Mallaby himself. As Simon Jenkins says of the interior of Sion Hill  – ‘The style is rich and crowded, sometimes Curzon Street Baroque, sometimes antique dealer’s Louis XVI . . . Yet no inch is without thought or interest.’

The gardens, after many years of neglect, were lovingly restored and re-created by Michael Mallaby. They include a formal parterre, with clipped hornbeam and yew, a Long Walk with abundant herbaceous and shrub borders, a wood land Lower Walk, overlooking the River Wiske, and a traditional Kitchen Garden and Centenary Rose Garden.

After being welcomed on arrival with tea/coffee and biscuits served in the Edwardian kitchen of the Hall, we shall have a private Guided Tour of the House and Gardens. A 2-course lunch has been booked for us at ‘The ‘Kings Arms’ in the nearby village of Sandhutton.

 Finally, before returning home, we shall have some free time to spend in the attractive market town of Thirsk. Its attractions include the award winning museum ‘The World of James Herriot’ (of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ fame), the smaller Thirsk Museum, where Thomas Lord (the founder of Lord’s Cricket Ground) lived, St Mary’s Parish Church – not to mention the White Rose Books and Coffee Bar, in the Market Place!

 The cost of the visit is £45.00 per person (inc. admission to Sion Hill Hall, with Guided Tour of the House, tea/coffee and biscuits on arrival in the Edwardian kitchen, pre-booked lunch at The King’s Arms, and coach hire, plus coach driver’s gratuity). Cheques should be made payable to ‘The Arts Society: Hull & East Riding’ or ‘ASHER’. Our East Yorkshire coach will depart from the bus stop at the top of Kingston Road, Willerby, at 8.30 a.m.We shall be returning home after free time in Thirsk, arriving back around 6.15 p.m.  The Booking Form is in the April Newsletter.

Posted by vivalogue in Outside Visits

Grimsthorpe Castle, Near Bourne

Grimsthorpe Castle
Grimsthorpe Castle State Drawing Room

Wednesday, 9th September, 2020

‘Grim by name but not by nature’ (according to Simon Jenkins), Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire is one of the great houses of England. It is a marriage of architectural styles, with the quirkiness of its Tudor façade contrasting with the Baroque splendour of its north front, and is Sir John Vanbrugh’s last masterpiece -  a ‘true northern Blenheim’.

In 1516, Grimsthorpe and its lands were presented by Henry VIII as a wedding present to William, 11thLord Willoughby de Eresby, and his Spanish bride, Maria de Salinas, lady-in-waiting of Queen Katharine of Aragon. For the next 500 years it remained in the same family, united under the ancient title of ‘Barony of Willoughby de Eresby’. Now owned by a Charitable Trust, it is occupied by the 27thBaroness Willoughby, and because the family held the hereditary office of Lord Great Chamberlain to the monarch, Grimsthorpe houses one of the largest collections of royal thrones and furnishings outside the Royal Palaces.

The Great Hall interior is to Pevsner ‘unquestionably Vanbrugh’s finest room’, having the scale of a Tudor great hall but the perspective of a Roman palace, with its walls of two storeys of arcades, a chimneypiece by Hawksmoor,  and a double flight of stairs rising to a landing, beneath which is Vanbrugh’s Piranesian undercroft. Upstairs, in the state dining room is the Coronation Throne used by George IV, and the King James Room has fluted gilt pilasters and a full-length portrait of King James I. At the end of the upper corridor is the chapel gallery, which houses an almost hidden treasure, Zurbaran’s portrait Benjamin, that has been separated from the rest of the set now at Bishop Auckland Castle, which we may coincidentally see on our visit there in July.

 After lunch, we are invited back to Grimsthorpe to enjoy the Gardens that have been there since the early 1500s, evolving over the years due to Grimsthorpe’s long history of gardening, with intricate parterres with box hedges close to the House, and a dramatic herbaceous border framing views across the lake. Finally, the Georgian Coach House has been converted into a licensed tearoom, serving afternoon tea and home-made cakes, for anyone wishing to indulge, before we rejoin the coach for our homeward journey.

 The cost of the visit is £42.00 per person (inc. admission to Grimsthorpe Castle and Gardens, Guided Tour of the House, pre-booked lunch, and coach hire plus coach driver’s gratuity). Cheques should be made payable to ‘The Arts Society: Hull & East Riding’ or  ‘ASHER’. Our East Yorkshire coach will depart from the bus stop at the top of Kingston Road, Willerby, at 8.30 a.m.We expect to be arriving back around 6.30 p.m.

The Booking Form will be found in the April Newsletter.

Posted by vivalogue in Outside Visits