Eshton Hall 1268

Skipton, England, North Yorkshire, Craven

Brief Description

This site had an extensive landscape park associated with the re-modelling of the hall in 1825-27. The grounds are currently mainly pasture.

History

Matthew Wilson bought Eshton Hall and the 680 acre Eshton estate in 1646. This hall was subsequently replaced by a large plain Georgian Palladian mansion. The house was substantially altered in the 1820s and 1830s. New pleasure grounds and a walled garden were laid out around the 'new' hall.

Detailed Description

Eshton Hall is on the western bank of Eshton Beck. The approach from Gargrave is through parkland, which is lined with an avenue of trees and goes past imposing stone piers topped with stone balls. The last quarter of a mile before reaching the hall is lined by iron railings with bollards cast as Doric columns with Greek capitals set on octagonal bases. These railings probably date from the early 19th century.

The pleasure grounds to the north-west straddled both banks of Eshton Beck. These were planted informally with deciduous and evergreen trees either in groups or as specimens, but included a separate garden on the far bank of Eshton Beck more than 400 yards from the hall via a footbridge.

A wide flight of steps near the south-west corner of the hall led to the top of the embankment at the rear. These steps, which are set centrally in the embankment, could possibly have been a feature of an earlier garden for the Palladian mansion. They were certainly used in the early-20th-century to walk from the hall, by way of the viaduct across Eshton Lane, to the walled garden in Gambers Wood approximately 300 yards away.

Forty yards north of the Hall, below a steep embankment, was an ice house. This was not included in the 1960 sale of the estate. Neither were the hall and the part of the pleasure grounds that extended as far as the lodge to the north-west and the 22-acre field below the hall to the south-east.

One of the principal views of the house was from the south-east. After the remodelling of the house in 1825-7, a fence separated the south-east front from the adjacent parkland. This was later replaced by a retaining wall, designed by George Webster, acting as a ha-ha, enabling uninterrupted parkland to appear to come right up to the front of the house.

By the mid-1880s the embankment behind the hall is described as a large flower garden. Two separate short flights of steps led down a small embankment from the south-west house-terrace to a tennis ground. These were flanked by vases as were the tops of a further short set of steps to the terrace behind the hall and the previously mentioned imposing wide set of steps near its south-west corner.

The hall is set in a very beautiful part of Craven with splendid views especially to the fells to the east. The historic setting of the Webster re-modelled house has been described in glowing terms:

The pleasure grounds were laid out with ‘consummate taste and skill' (H. Speight, 1895)

‘for in no part of England can we find scenery of a more Swiss-like character' (Wheater, 1889)

‘Viewing it from any neighbouring standpoint, the hall is fixed in a picture beauteous of outline and gorgeous in scenic detail' (Wheater, 1889)

‘There is a fine view from the terrace in front of the house' (Wheater, 1889)

At the time of the sale in 1960 there was a grass tennis court adjacent to the walled garden in Gambers Wood. This could still be accessed using the viaduct across Eshton Lane. Today only the remains of this viaduct exist.

The pleasure gardens to the north-west of the house and the parkland to the south-east are no longer part of the grounds. Latterly the hall was used as a nursing home, but work started in 2003 to convert it into 18 apartments. Unfortunately the Yorkshire Gardens Trust has not had the opportunity to comment on all the planning applications involving the setting of the hall.

Changes either proposed or already constructed include a new driveway branching off the main drive near the entrance gates (listed Grade II together with the Gate piers). This driveway will immediately pass an existing stone seat with a proposed new bin store close by, then after gently curving in the north-west direction will turn to pass proposed parking spaces and tank room before passing the wide flight of steps to a new block of six garages and meter room. The garages are to be constructed in the embankment within eight metres of the wide flight of steps and are to have a grass roof surrounded by a wire fence.

There will be six new potting sheds behind the house. The purpose of these was not known by the planning officer who dealt with the application. They are possibly connected with the previously proposed private gardens adjacent to the former service wing of the hall.

Parking bays will be constructed on the main south-east front but not immediately in front of the main entrance. Hence it seems likely that the principal view of the house from the south will unfortunately always be marred by parked vehicles.

Features
  • House (featured building)
  • Description: The old hall was subsequently replaced by a large plain Georgian Palladian mansion. In 1825-7 this was re-modelled by George Webster of Kendal in an Elizabethan revival style. Extensions and alterations by Webster between 1835 and 1839 created the house essentially as it is today complete with its domed turret (apart from the service wing which has seen much alteration over the intervening years).
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Description: A new three and a half acre walled kitchen garden was developed in Gambers Wood in 1838-9. Prior to this there appears to have been a walled kitchen garden immediately behind the service wing of the hall.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Gateway
  • Description: Gate and gate piers.
  • Drive
  • Description: Changes either proposed or already constructed include a new driveway branching off the main drive near the entrance gates.
  • Steps
  • Description: A wide flight of steps near the south-west corner of the hall led to the top of the embankment at the rear. These steps, which are set centrally in the embankment, could possibly have been a feature of an earlier garden for the Palladian mansion.
Authorities

Civil Parish

  • Eshton
History

Detailed History

Matthew Wilson, a clothier in London but originally from Brigsteer in Westmorland, bought Eshton Hall and the 680 acre Eshton estate in 1646. The hall then had a central hall, great parlour with an adjacent closet, kitchen, buttery, brew house, garden house, master chamber and seven further chambers. When Matthew died in 1656, the estate passed to his godson John Wilson. It then remained in the ownership of his descendants until 1960, when the estate was broken up.

This hall was subsequently replaced by a large plain Georgian Palladian mansion. In 1825-7 this was re-modelled by George Webster of Kendal in an Elizabethan revival style. Extensions and alterations by Webster between 1835 and 1839 created the house essentially as it is today complete with its domed turret (apart from the service wing which has seen much alteration over the intervening years). Visitors could visit by appointment the 30 acres of pleasure grounds created for this 'new' mansion. A new three and a half acre walled kitchen garden was developed in Gambers Wood in 1838-9. Prior to this there appears to have been a walled kitchen garden immediately behind the service wing of the hall.

Associated People

Just one person associated to Eshton Hall

Contact

Telephone

01793 445050

Official Website

Click Here
References

Contributors

  • Helen Lazenby

    1

  • Yorkshire Gardens Trust