Sion Hill Hall
Visiting the gardens
Lunch after the visit
Waiting for the coach

..…A most interesting and beautiful manor house. A.F.
…..A marvellous visit…...what a treasure trove! Such beautiful china, paintings and exquisite furniture described in detail with a touch of humour by our charming host. A.S.
.….Wonderful inlaid furniture and the Japanese bedroom was exquisite….Anon
…..I loved the Dutch corner cabinets….and our guide had such an amazing memory, he knew all the details of his collection. Anon
…..Both house & gardens have been renovated and restored marvellously. L.D.
This was our much-anticipated Covid-delayed visit from 2020, on a rather overcast day at the start of the predicted July heat-wave but very much enjoyed none-the-less. Sion Hill Hall is one of the last Edwardian stately homes built in Yorkshire before the Great War. It is a Grade II* Arts and Craft inspired country house with outstanding neo-Georgian detail and was designed and built in 1913 by the renowned local architect Walter Brierley of York – known as the ‘Lutyens of the North’. It stands on the original site of the 13th century manor of Kirby Wiske, near Thirsk. The original house changed ownership many times over 600 years, ending up with the Lascelles family of Harewood, who in 1911 sold what was then a decaying Georgian mansion to Percy Staincliffe, who commissioned the present house from Brierley.
In 1962, Sion Hill Hall was bought by a Yorkshire businessman, Herbert William Mawer, an enthusiastic collector of antiques and he filled the house with fine art, French furniture and porcelain. To ensure the collection remained together as a lasting memorial to his life’s work, Mawer put it into a Charitable Trust, which then passed to the current incumbent, Michael Mallaby – an equally passionate collector of antiques. After being greeted on arrival with tea/coffee and biscuits in the Edwardian kitchen of the Hall, we were warmly welcomed by Michael Mallaby himself. who gave us a fascinating tour of the ground floor reception rooms. As Simon Jenkins has said 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’ (England’s Thousand Best Houses, p.901).
We were then left to explore the upstairs bedrooms at our leisure, with informative guides to hand, before being directed to the carefully landscaped gardens. After many years of neglect, these too have been lovingly restored by Michael Mallaby and provide a perfect setting for this unique antique collector’s dream of a country house.
Keith Bottomley