Study Days

Rev Charles Constable built the Hall

Wassand Hall

Wassand Gardens

Whether it’s exploring behind the scenes at Hull’s New Theatre, handling historic documents at Beverley’s Treasure House, or learning how stained glass is made, Study Days provide the opportunity for a closer look at something of interest in our area. These are held each year and they are within a radius of around fifteen miles, so you can make your way independently.

Back in June 2023, we visited Wassand Hall near Hornsea Mere:

Wassand Hall 2023

A beautiful day with bright, warm sunshine was the backdrop to an enjoyable visit to the interesting and attractive Wassand Hall, home of the Strickland – Constable family.  Everyone arrived in good time and we divided into two separate groups because the guides felt, correctly, that otherwise there would be too many people in the house at any one time.  The first group spent the early part of the visit in the gardens where a gardener was happy to answer questions and the second group went with a guide to look at the house.

The lovely house was built during the Regency period with the expected excellent style and taste.   It was designed by Thomas Cundy who also built much of Belgravia and Pimlico. We had a plethora of guides: one for the outside, one for downstairs and one for the upstairs. The estate has been in the family since 1520 and contains Hornsea Mere , that remnant of the retreating ice from the last ice age.  Apparently the old manor was much nearer the mere but proved to be subject to the shifting water level and so the new house was built on higher ground. During the Second World War the house was requisitioned by the army and became the headquarters for the 'Free French', necessitating repairs to - and demolition of - parts of the house.  Nowadays the Hall and estate are held in a trust.

We enjoyed the, paintings, silver and porcelain as well as the architecture and the walled garden was a delight on such a summer’s day.  Finally, after the visit of both groups to the House and gardens, everyone completed the day with some excellent cake for a welcome afternoon tea.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         G W Lewis

Tranby Croft 2022

Tranby Croft was built around 1874 by Arthur Wilson, owner of the Wilson shipping line, which was the source of his considerable fortune and his social status - a family home, but also a show-piece, because Arthur was keen to show off his wealth to the society people he entertained there – fellow tycoons, politicians, even royalty. It was the visit of Edward Prince of Wales in 1890 that caused the house’s notoriety as the place of the “baccarat scandal”, when a guest, accused of cheating in a game of baccarat, sought damages for slander, resulting in a sensational trial in which the Prince was called as a witness.
We gathered in the magnificent entrance porch to meet our guide, Gordon Stephenson, head of languages, archivist, and an expert on the history of the house and the Wilsons, who enlivened our tour with a commentary that was both knowledgeable and entertaining, including stories about the friendly resident ghosts. We were given a fascinatingly detailed account of the “baccarat affair” in the room where the game took place, but this was only a small part of a tour that took in the impressive ground floor stair hall and what had been family dining and reception rooms, bedrooms and dressing rooms.

Pevsner’s “Buildings of England” for York and the East Riding says of the house, “Large three-storey Italianate mansion with a 72 ft high corner tower topped by a balustrade. Two-storey bays on three fronts and a large stone entrance porch. Ornate late Victorian interior.” A brief description which hardly does justice to a house that, especially on the ground floor, was full of light, largely on account of the abundance of bay windows.

The large stair hall, entered immediately from the entrance porch, is the most impressive surviving feature, with a grand oak staircase leading to a gallery off which had been the bedrooms and dressing rooms, both staircase and gallery being supported by ornately carved wooden columns. Our guide showed us contemporary photographs of the hall furnished as a place for family and guests to gather in and of the main dining room and other public rooms in their heyday. Nineteenth century features which do remain in many of these rooms include elaborate fire surrounds and large ornate over-mantel mirrors.

Our tour finished with an invitation to climb the tower, from which there are extensive views towards the Humber, followed by afternoon tea. Thanks are due to Michele Lewis for organising the visit, to Gordon Stephenson, and to the members of staff who allowed us to invade their offices, where these are situated in what had been notable family bedrooms and sitting rooms.
Iris Pennie