Category Archives: The Georgians

Nunnington Hall – Jacobites, cypher and ghosts.

Picture 170Nunnington Hall in Ryedale is built on land originally owned by St Mary’s Abbey in York. The hall is fifteenth and sixteenth century in origin –so no medieval links to feasting or law should you pause a while in the double height hallway with its baronial fireplace  but its perhaps unsurprising to discover that there was a building here in the thirteenth century.

 

The_Marquess_of_Northampton_by_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger.jpgThe history of  Nunnington’s owners is lively. It passed into the Parr family when Maud Green married Sir Thomas Parr of Kendal. As the elder of the two co-heresses it was Maud who acquired Nunnington. Maud died in 1532. Her son William inherited the property but unfortunately for him the then Marquess of Northampton became involved in Wyatt’s Rebellion of 1553. The bid to replace mary Tudor with Lady Jane Grey failed. Jane had not plotted but her father the duke of Suffolk had become involved. He, his daughter and his son-in-law were promptly executed. Parr was fortunate to suffer only attainder. Nunnington was forfeit to the Crown.

 

220px-Viscount_prestonNunnington was leased out to various families including Elizabeth I’s physician but in 1655, after the English Civil War, the manor was sold to Ranald Graham. He was succeeded by his nephew Sir Richard Graham of Netherby in Cumbria. He was made Viscount Preston and Baron Esk in 1681. He would also marry into the Howard family when he married the daughter of the earl of Carlisle. He served under Charles II and James II. He even did a turn as English ambassador in France. In 1689 his luck turned when he sided with James II rather than William of Orange and James’ daughter Mary. Graham was captured on his way across the Channel. Even as his escape vessel was boarded he made every attempt to destroy incriminating documents. He was attainted and sentenced to death in 1691. The sentence was never carried out because Queen Mary spared him when his daughter Catherine pleaded for his life- it may also have helped that he did turn evidence against his fellow conspirators- but his lands were parcelled out to, amongst others, the earl of Carlisle. It was just as well that it had all been kept in the family because Richard was allowed home and his son Edward eventually inherited Graham’s estate although it was his daughter Catherine by then Lady Widdrington who ultimately inherited Nunnington when her nephew Charles died – the names give an indication of continued Graham loyalty to the Stuart cause…though how the Jacobites felt about Lord Preston giving evidence against them is another matter entirely.

 

The Graham family maintained their loyalty to the Jacobite cause particularly Richard’s daughter Catherine. Even today if you visit the house you can see a ring which contains a lock of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s hair, an Order of the Garter and blue garter ribbon belonging to Prince Charles Edward Stuart and fragments of Jacobite plaid.

The symbolism of the Jacobite cause is hard to ignore and in additon to drinking toasts to the king over the water it turns out that some families advertised their loyalty to the cause by planting Scots’ pine in a prominent position. There is one at Nunnington. There is even a notebook discovered in 2011 filled with cipher which is still unexplained made by Graham and hidden under the floorboards.

 

So there is the Bonnie Prince Charlie link and now for the second of the ghost stories:

It is said that one of Nunnington’s squires being a widower with a young son remarried. The new wife quickly provided a second son for the squire and when the squire died she set about ensuring that her son inherited rather than his elder half-brother.

At first the woman locked her step-son in an attic where he was ill clothed and poorly fed. Orders were given that no one was to have anything to do with the boy. The only person who dared to defy this order was the boy’s younger half-brother. He would take toys, clothes and food up to the attics and spend time there. However, one day he made his accustomed climb up the stairs to find the room deserted and no sign of what had become of the older boy.

It was suggested by some that he had either been sent to sea or run away to sea. Less kind folk hinted that the boy’s step- mother had murdered the lad.

The little boy now inherited Nunnington but he was devastated by the disappearance of his brother and believed that the boy would return. One day he thought he heard his brother, leant to far out of the window and fell to his death. The boy’s mother took to sitting in the panelled room where her son had fallen and it wasn’t long before she too died. It is said that the sound a a rustling silk gown can be heard as the woman searches for ever for her own dead boy.

I’d have to admit that Nunnington Hall is a tad on the draughty side but I spend rather more time trying to photograph the peahen’s chicks than stalk ghosts.

 

 

 

‘Parishes: Nunnington’, in A History of the County of York North Riding: Volume 1, ed. William Page (London, 1914), pp. 544-548. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/yorks/north/vol1/pp544-548 [accessed 17 December 2017].

 

Material Culture and Sedition, 1688-1760: Treacherous Objects, Secret Places

By M. Pittock

 

 

 

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Filed under Jacobites, Legends, Seventeenth Century, The Stuarts

Georgian style

fullsizeoutput_11c.jpegThe Georgian Period dates between 1714 with the accession of George I and 1830 when William IV or Sailor Billy as he was known succeeded his brother George IV.

The Regency Period which often dominates popular knowledge because of it influence on culture, fashion and architecture only lasted nine years from February 05 1811 when George III was deemed incapable of ruling and his son became Prince Regent in his stead.George III had suffered from periodic bouts of madness caused, we think, by porphyria that had alarmed Parliament since 1788 but the death of his youngest daughter Princess Amelia aged only 27 in November 1810 sent him spiralling into insanity.  The Prince Regent, “Prinny” or George Augustus Frederick to give him his full name ruled in his father’s stead for the nine years until George III died in Windsor Castle on 29 January 1820.  The Prince Regent then became George IV.

Just to confuse things slightly further the Regency era is usually seen as incorporating the reigns of both George IV and William IV as well coming to an end only with the reign of Queen Victoria.

Essentially Regency Architecture is Neo-Classical.  Its about symmetry, balance, columns, pastel shades animist importantly breaking the rules of proportion.  It associated with Robert Adam amongst others.  I should add that I’ve by-passed the earlier Georgian Palladian Architecture completely.  Palladian Architecture was bound by the rules of proportion as a result tends to look heavier than Neo-Classical buildings – but as with all these things it is probable that you wouldn’t have had one without the other.

Aside from Bath’s famous and very beautiful crescent Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire springs to mind as being very Neo-Classical and its a hall – so that’s where my advent image for today is coming from.  The lion can be found in the Long Walk rather than in the hallway!  He’s a reproduction of a sixteenth century lion in the Villa Medici in Rome. The ball doesn’t not represent the lion’s desire for a game of football but is representative of the Earth.  The lion is about power and, of course, royalty.  Nathanial Curzon commissioned the piece in 1759 – which is somewhat before the Regency Era.

Curzon, like many other men of the period, was influenced by his Grand Tour of Europe – the Seventeen and Eighteenth Century equivalent of a gap year.  Essentially the idea of the Grand Tour was to broaden the mind and apparently to collect classical stuff if half the stately houses I’ve ever been to are anything to go by.  This discovery of ancient architecture and artefacts was one of the things which influenced the Palladian and Neo-Classical styles.  Men wished to emulate the ancient civilisations.

If you’re feeling grieved by the fact that the only hall aspect of this post is the name Kedleston Hall all I can do is offer you some examples of Neo-Classical staircases such as the one in Somerset House or the impressive spiralling staircase in the Greenwich Naval College.

 

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