Hull-born aviator Mrs Amy Mollinson (better known as Amy Johnson) officially opened Sewerby House and park in brilliant sunshine in front of 15,000 people on June 1, 1936. The Mayor of Bridlington said it was a pleasure to welcome the greatest airwoman in the world. Her record had not been equalled, let alone surpassed.
Coun J. Byass then presented a key to Mrs Mollison to open the House (as it was called until the 1960s). He said he believed that in the future, people would appreciate the Corporation’s decision to buy the estate. Many people appreciated it then, but there were others who criticised the expenditure. Before opening the door, Mrs Mollinson referred to the pleasure it gave her to visit Bridlington. She hoped that Sewerby would attract many visitors.
Earlier, in 1934, Bridlington Corporation had started negotiations for the purchase of Sewerby House, with the gardens, grounds, three lodges and more than 300 acres of land, and two farms. The sale was completed later in the year at a cost of £45,000. This marked the end of Sewerby House’s occupation by a family which had stretched back centuries.
John Carleill, a York merchant, built a new house on the Sewerby site shortly after acquiring the Sewerby estate in 1566. This may have been on or near the site of an earlier medieval manor house. He occupied the new house between 1566-1597. It was then held by various members of the Carleill family. In 1701 John Greame I (1664-1746), grandson of a local yeoman farmer, leased the house built by John Carleill, until buying the entire Sewerby estate in 1713 for £900. He had inherited his father’s lands and wealth in 1708 along with a racehorse, Champion, which won the York Gold cup in 1713.
John Greame I began constructing a new property to replace the Elizabethan house which had been pulled down. Built of brick between 1714 and 1720, the new structure was three storeys with seven bays.
Following on from John Greame I in 1746 was his third son, John II, who married in 1756 Alicia Maria, third daughter of William Spencer, of Cannon Hall, Barnsley. Details of life at Sewerby House, as well as other information, are contained in the letters she wrote over a 50-year period to her family at Cannon Hall. These have survived and are contained in the Spencer-Stanhope papers held in Sheffield City Libraries.
John Greame II died in 1798 and, as he and his wife had no children, his nephew John Greame III inherited Sewerby. Born in 1759, John Greame III was educated at Cambridge, and married, at 23, Sarah Yarburgh, of Heslington. They had two children named Yarburgh and Alicia Maria (after Aunt Greame), but Sarah died in 1785. Two years later, John Greame III married Anne Elizabeth Broadley and they all lived with Aunt Greame at Sewerby. John and Anne Elizabeth’s marriage produced no children. Aunt Greame remained at the house until about 1806 before moving to 43 High Street, Bridlington, where she died in 1811.
By this time, John Greame III had embarked on several schemes to enlarge the property and improve the facilities. Leeds architect Thomas Johnson was commissioned to produce plans for both internal and external work. Two two-storey bow-fronted wings were added on each side of the building. On completion, both the extension and the house brickwork were painted to resemble stone. The west wing was intended for the servants’ hall, housekeeper’s parlour and a new kitchen; the east wing for a fashionable drawing room.
A semi-circular portico, with Doric columns and semi-circular steps, was erected as well as a new stable block around 1825. Five years later a new dining room was completed with another bedroom and dressing room above.
The parkland surrounding the house was developed in stages, and probably the most significant change occurred in 1811 when 843 acres of open arable fields were enclosed and awarded to John Greame III. This gave him the freedom to begin creating a park to complement the house.
Sewerby House’s occupants at the time of the 1851 census included Yarburgh Greame and 11 servants. Greame succeeded to the Heslington estates in 1852 on the death of his uncle N.E. Yarburgh and then assumed by Royal Licence the surname of Yarburgh, becoming Yarburgh Yarburgh. Before he died a bachelor in 1856, he began an extensive restoration of Heslington Hall.
Yarburgh’s estates passed to his sister Mrs Alicia Maria who had married George Lloyd. When she died a widow in 1867 her Heslington and Sewerby estates were split between her two sons. Heslington was inherited by eldest son George John, who changed his surname to Yarburgh; Sewerby to her younger son, Yarburgh Gamaliel, who adopted the name of Lloyd-Greame.
Yarburgh Gamaliel Lloyd-Greame (1813-1890) was a vicar in Lincolnshire before his inheritance, relinquishing this position to move to Sewerby. For the remainder of his life he became deeply involved with numerous philanthropic causes.
He was succeeded by his son Colonel Yarburgh George Lloyd-Greame (1840-1928) who made a number of improvements. Following his death, his eldest son Yarburgh Lloyd-Greame occupied the house until it was sold along with 411 acres to Bridlington Corporation in 1934. Sewerby Hall’s 50 acres of parkland has since developed into one of the gems of the Yorkshire coastline.
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