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There is evidence to suggest that there was an earlier building on the site of the present hall, or in its proximity, which had belonged to Bolton Priory before the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. In 1549 Sir John Yorke of Gouthwaite Hall purchased the manor of Appletreewick which included Parcevall Hall Estate. The estate remained in the possession of his descendants until 1638 when it was sold to the tenant of that time, George Demayne.

The oldest part of Parcevall Hall today is thought to date from the beginning of the 17th century. George Demayne sold the estate to his son-in-law, Christopher Lowson, one year after his marriage to his daughter, Elizabeth Demayne, in 1661. Christopher Lowson also bought two extra fields in 1660, Day Flatts End and the large field below the hall then known as The Great Croft. In 1671 a ‘bride-house' was added to the hall at the west end and a new porch on the south front. Elizabeth died in 1691.

Christopher Lowson then went to live in Bewerly, having married in 1693 Elizabeth Inman, the mother of his daughter's husband Robert Inman. He died two years later leaving the majority of his estate to his son-in-law, Robert. However, the estate was sold in the early-18th-century and subsequently had various owners before it was bought by T. E. Yorke, a descendant of the previously mentioned Yorkes, in the late-19th-century. During much of the 18th and 19th centuries the hall was occupied by tenant farmers but the estate itself grew as a result of various enclosures. Frank Laycock of Skipton bought the estate from the Yorke family and subsequently sold it to William Milner (1893-1960) in 1927.

In 1711 William Milner's ancestor, also William Milner, a wealthy cloth merchant in Leeds, bought the substantial property of Nun Appleton at Cawood. This was the former home of Lord Thomas Fairfax, built on the site of a Cistercian nunnery. His son was created a baronet in 1716/17. William Milner's father inherited the baronetcy on the death of his brother in 1880. However, the estate was sold in 1897 to pay his brother's debts, but its romantic setting must have been a formative influence on the young William. He left Christ Church, Oxford in 1915 in his third year of reading classics and philosophy to serve in World War 1. Just as Victorian Oxford graduates before him, such as William Morris, William Milner developed a passion for the medieval period. He also became a devout Anglo-Catholic. In 1923, whilst living in London, he helped to fund the restoration of the medieval shrine at Walsingham, Norfolk and later made further substantial donations including the land for a new shrine. The architect for this project was Romilly Craze.

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list

HISTORIC DEVELOPMENT

The Manor of Appletreewick belonged to Bolton Priory before the monastery was dissolved in 1539. Persevells farm was subsequently acquired by Peter Yorke, who left the property to his second son, Thomas, in 1589 (guidebook). Parcevall Hall was little altered until it was bought in 1927 by Sir William Milner Bt (1893-1960), whose godmother, Queen Mary, became a frequent visitor to the Hall. Sir William greatly extended the original stone farmhouse, constructing a courtyard behind it by blasting out large quantities of stone. The blasted stone was used to construct a formal terraced garden below the Hall, on the site of a former walled enclosure (OS 1853, 1909) and meadow. At the same time an extensive rock garden was created behind the Hall, using large stones brought from the nearby moor and placed around the exposed bedrock. The garden was initially laid out over three years from around 1930, supervised by a Mr Cross (Makin 1989). The garden was further developed during the following decades, including the construction of a fourth terrace in the 1950s, until Sir William's death in 1960. Up to thirteen gardeners were employed, and a fine collection of plant introductions was made. Sir William knew other contemporary garden-makers including the Hon Robert James of St Nicholas (see description of this site elsewhere in the Register), Richmond, North Yorkshire (to whom he was related by marriage via his cousin, Lady Serena James), and he obtained plants introduced from expeditions to Western China and Tibet by George Forrest and Reginald Farrer (Makin 1989). The garden design and planting is thought to have represented an allegory of world religious faiths (Makin personal communicaton, April 2002).

On his death in 1960 Sir William left the Hall and gardens to the Walsingham Trust, who subsequently leased the property to the Diocese of Bradford as a retreat house, in which use it presently remains (2002).
 

Site timeline

1927 to 1960: New gardens were developed by Sir William Milner, and the house was greatly extended.

1960: Sir William Milner left the hall and gardens to the Walsingham Trust.

People associated with this site

Architect: Romilly Craze (born 1892 died 1974)

Features

garden terrace

For the south of the hall Milner designed a much larger walled garden with level terraces

planting

Chinese themed garden.

planting

Woodland garden.

pergola

ornamental pond

Circular pond on the first terrace.

rockery

plantation

Ruska Plantation became known as Little Tibet.

kitchen garden

steps

There was a double flight of steps from the first terrace to the second terrace.

pool

Rectangular pool.

rose garden