Goldsborough Hall, Knaresborough: History of Yorkshire Jacobean house and estate that dates back to late 16th century and is the former home of Princess Mary, Countess of Harewood

Construction of Goldsborough Hall, Knaresborough, took 27 years to complete and began in 1598 - the Yorkshire house was the former residence of Princess Mary, Countess of Harewood in the 20th century.

Goldsborough Hall recently celebrated the coronation of King Charles III, providing a live screening of the occasion for all who were unable to travel down to Westminster Abbey. The venue hosted a Royal Afternoon Tea serving various treats including sandwiches, scones and cakes.

But this is not the only occasion that connects the house with the royal family; it was once the home of Princess Mary, the only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary, the sister of kings Edward VIII and George VI, and the aunt of the late Queen Elizabeth II. She participated in various charity work in support of servicemen and their families during the First World War and married Henry Lascelles, Viscount Lascelles (later the 6th Earl of Harewood) in 1922.

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Both Princess Mary and Henry moved to Goldsborough Hall in 1922 after they got married, then moved to Harewood House in 1929 following her father’s death, where they lived until her own death in 1965. The Princess Royal and the Earl of Harewood had two sons, George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood, and The Honourable Gerald Lascelles.

Snowdrops in bloom at Goldsborough Hall. (Pic credit: Simon Hulme)Snowdrops in bloom at Goldsborough Hall. (Pic credit: Simon Hulme)
Snowdrops in bloom at Goldsborough Hall. (Pic credit: Simon Hulme)

History of Goldsborough Hall, Knaresborough

The prominent Goldsborough family lived in a thatched moated Manor House opposite the village of Goldsborough by the middle of the 13th century which was destroyed by a fire that took place following a family feud in 1588.

Sir Richard Hutton was knighted by King James I in 1617 when he visited York and was made judge of the Court of Common Pleas (England) and was a well known London lawyer. He purchased the village and all claimants to its land in 1599 and began construction of the current Goldsborough Hall on raised land close to the church in 1601.

There is a portrait of Sir Richard Hutton which is reproduced by permission of the Treasurer and Masters of the Bench of Gray’s Inn, where the original is displayed. Goldsborough Hall was completed in 1625 and the hall was built on three storeys in red brick with limestone quoins and dressing.

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The great oak staircase was lit by two stone mullioned windows. The Library has retained its 17th century oak panelling and original painted plasterwork ceiling. Certain features predate the hall including the large stone fireplace in the dining room with two over-mantel panels, which can be traced back to the late 16th century.

The house and estate was passed down to Sir Richard’s son, also called Sir Richard Hutton and was knighted by King Charles I in 1625, following his father’s death in 1639. He was MP for Knaresborough during the 1620s and also High Sheriff of Yorkshire.

Sir Richard Hutton II was Governor of Knaresborough Castle when the English Civil War began and fought on the King’s side as a colonel in the Army. He consistently defended the castle for four years and fought alongside the King’s men at the Battle of Marston Moor, near York in the middle of villages Tockwith and Long Marston in 1644.

The hooks used by soldiers to hang their hammocks during the occupation of Goldsborough Hall under Cromwell’s cousin Lt Col Edward Whalley still remain in the hall’s attic. They destroyed Knaresborough Castle and Sir Richard Hutton Junior was killed in 1645 at the battle of Sherburn-in-Elmet.

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While it is unknown who took over the hall and estate following Sir Richard Junior’s death, there is evidence that his son, also called Richard, who was involved in a Royalist plot in the 1650s and was imprisoned in Hull. However, it is known that the estate was passed by marriage to the Wharton family and from there it was passed to the Byerley family.

Robert Byerley’s ownership and famous horse Byerley Turk

Richard Hutton’s granddaughter, Mary Wharton, married her first cousin Robert Byerley who took over the hall and estate. Robert Byerley bought a very rare Turkish horse through his marriage and became Byerley’s war horse who ended up saving his life in 1690 at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland. The horse, named Byerley Turk, retired to a life of stud at Goldsborough Hall. This horse is also crucial to thoroughbred horse history as it is the first of three stallions that make up all thoroughbreds in the world today.

The famous horse died in 1706 and is thought to have been buried in the grounds under a tree.

There were no heirs from Robert and Mary’s children, so in 1759 the hall was bought by Daniel Lascelles, whose family later became the Earls of Harewood. Through this acquisition, Goldsborough Hall moved into a new lease of life and was extensively remodelled by John Carr of York and Robert Adam during their work on the construction of Harewood House for his brother.

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The main change was the addition of the bays extending upwards towards the roof, with windows on every floor and balustrades at the top. They also constructed a new main entrance to the house facing east.

Daniel Lascelles died without an heir in 1784 and the hall and the whole of the land was passed to his brother, to form part of the then-24,000-acre Harewood estate.

For more than 200 years, the hall remained within the Lascelles family and was used as a Dower House, the heirs-in-waiting house, a hunting lodge or even rented out when it was not needed.

The family home of Princess Mary

One of the Lascelles family members who inherited the house and estate was Viscount Henry Lascelles, later the 6th Earl of Harewood, who married HRH Princess Mary in 1922. The couple lived at Goldsborough before their move to Harewood House in the 1930s following her father’s death.

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Princess Mary had left her own touch to the architecture of the building and details can still be found in the stone fireplace in the dining room and stained glass windows on the staircase revealing the union of the Lascelles and the royal family.

The second floor includes some stained glass windows, which were gifted to them by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem on the occasion of the Princess’s wedding. To the south of the grounds, a vista was implemented with the planting of the walled terrace and the beech avenue centred around Princess Mary’s sundial looking out onto the Lime Tree Walk. This was planted by visiting members of the royal family and surrounded by 50,000 daffodils in the spring.

During the Second World War, Oatlands School, which is now the site of St Aidan’s School in Harrogate, was stationed at the Hall. Following the war the school remained at the Hall, where it was purchased from the Harewood estate in 1951 following the death of the 6th Earl of Harewood.

However, the school closed in 1961 when the owners, the Boyer family, retired and when the 6th Earl of Harewood died in 1947, the Lascelles family were forced to sell the Goldsborough Estate a few years later, ending more than 230 years of family ownership. The estate was then sold at an auction in 1952 and was privately sold to the Boyers.

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From 1961, the Hanson and Smith families took over the hall, modernised the building and returned it to a private residence.

The Hanson family sold the hall and estate to the Smith family in 1977 due to ill health, who lived in the hall for a few years before turning it into a nursing home, which opened in 1983 and became the flagship for the Goldsborough Estates group of nursing homes across the UK. The group then sold it off to BUPA in 1997 and it was given a Grade II listed status, meaning that it couldn’t be kept to modern nursing standards.

Present day at Goldsborough Hall

For two years the building was left derelict and neglected without heating or maintenance, when rats and squirrels would take residence.

The Hall was saved after 18 months of negotiations and push back; it was purchased and developed by local couple Mark and Clare Oglesby in 2005, who had the huge task of restoring the historic building; clearing the creeper to allow the re-pointing with lime mortar of 15 miles of brickwork.

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It is an ongoing project until today; the restoration of a heavily water damaged 1750s Robert Adam ceiling in Princess Mary’s bedroom undertaken by Ryedale Plasterers, and the creation of luxury bedroom suites and rooms.

Mark was the youngest son of the famous salmon angler Arthur Oglesby, who has turned the Hall once more to a privately owned family residence along with his wife Clare. They live there with their children Lucy and Charlotte.

In the present day, the main state rooms at the Hall have been refurbished and it now serves as a luxury five star guest accommodation with 16 bedrooms and suites. An Orangery was built in 2016 to host private weddings, corporate functions and events. The Dining Room at Goldsborough has received 3AA Rosette ratings and is the Michelin Guide.

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