Ormesby Hall ~ March 2019 ~ Part 3

See here for history and part 2

Most of the Stately Homes we visit have well-appointed kitchens which I duly photograph, and Ormesby Hall is no exception.

But it’s much of a muchness and we’ve seen similar in previous posts. What was unusual at Ormesby was a fully kitted out laundry, so that’s what we’ll look at today.

There’s no need for me to explain anything as that was done brilliantly by the info sheets in there.


flat irons
Laundry Stove

Love that they call it WEE BEN, 🙂

linens hung on hot pipes heated by the range
it had me worried, but it’s just another iron 🙂
through to the scrub room
the range which heated the hot pipes
more mangles
peg dollies, buckets & erm… a radiator (well it was a chilly day!)

so that was a nice surprise for Sophie and me as laundries are usually not given this much attention, and mainly consist of sinks and drainage channels. Good to see how it was all done back in the day, and I remember when I was a kid mangles were still in use in Yorkshire. Possibly still are! 😀

all pictures can be embiggened if you clickety-click on them.

Next time we’ll visit St.Cuthberts Church just across the road from the hall so stay tooned folks!

Ormesby Hall – March 2019 -Part 2


This week we are going to have a wander around the house. Sophie and I thought it was a bit like a tardis, as it seemed to have far more rooms than the outside appearance would have you think.

You can see examples of  bold Palladian plasterwork and the more delicate neo-classical plasterwork ceilings in the drawing and dining rooms.

Firstly the padded doorway.  This was installed by James Stovin Pennyman (1830-96) to help prevent the sounds of conversation disturbing the household  – he worked in York Lunatic Asylum so it’s possibly where he got that idea from.

Lt-Colonel Alfred Worsley Pennyman KOSB (1883-1914) by Frank Watson Wood (Berwick-upon-Tweed 1862 – Strathyre 1953)
Sir James Pennyman Bt (1736 – 1808) by Sir Joshua Reynolds PRA (Plympton 1723 – London 1792)
drawing room

Lots of ceramics on display in the dining room

and a nice view of one of the formal gardens

upstairs is also quite ornate with the plasterwork everywhere

and every bedroom has a four poster

Loved this corner cupboard from the Netherlands circa 1770 – 1800

More art on the walls


Still Life with a Parrot, Fruit and Dead Birds  by Jakob Bogdani (Eperjes (now Presov), Hungary c.1660 – Finchley 1724) 

because who wouldn’t want a parrot and dead birds on the wall??

Beatrix Jane Frances Walker was born on 23 December 1873.1 She was the daughter of Sir James Robert Walker, 2nd Bt. and Louisa Susan Marlborough Heron-Maxwell.2 She married Reverend William Geoffrey Pennyman on 18 February 1901. She died on 17 July 1959 at age 85.1 From 18 February 1901, her married name became Pennyman.
Sir Thomas Pennyman, 2nd Bt (1642 – 1708) Sir Peter Lely (Soest 1618 – London 1680)

Ruth Pennyman lived here and in this room, till her end.

and clearly liked her nylon stockings

Them wer’t days.

Enough for this week, and I’ll be back next Thursday with a bit more from the hall.

Stay tooned 🙂

Ormesby Hall & St.Cuthberts Church March 2019 – part 1

Ormesby Hall is one of the National Trusts smaller properties. Barely a Stately Home, more of an historic house really, but Sophie and I don’t mind small, and the place was surprisingly interesting.

Shall we commence with the history bit? (Rhetoric question, gotta be done 🙂 )

*Long post alert ~ get the kettle on*

The History Bit

The Estate of Ormesby has been around since before the Norman conquest, and possibly takes its name from Orme who was a tenant thereabouts registered in the Domesday Book.  The Hall has a long history with the Pennyman family and was acquired back in the days of yore, by James Pennyman in 1599, when he bought the whole estate and the village of Ormesby too.  James was the nephew of Robert Pennyman who had been hanged in York in 1569 for his part in the rebellion against Henry VIII known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. The Hall we see today didn’t exist when James bought it, just a large farmhouse, which James adapted and was later enlarged by his son.

We’re skipping forward now to 1722 when the next James Pennyman (there were many James Pennymans in the family!) married the daughter of the Archbishop of York, Dorothy, and came to live at Ormesby Hall. Dot was not enamored of the place and decided to have a new mansion built next door to the Old Hall. She employed the best architects, craftsmen, and artists in the region, and the Hall is now known for being one of the best examples of Palladian architecture in the north. The old hall became the service wing for the new, and the servants had to carry food and laundry outside from one to the other come rain or shine.  Dorothy sadly died in the year the house was completed in 1754, her hubby James having already shuffled off the mortal coil in 1743.

They hadn’t had any kids, so the house stood empty for the next 16 years until the advent of ‘Wicked’ Sir James, the 6th Baronet of Ormesby.  The Baronetcy had been conferred on another James back in 1664 by Charles II and continued through the family. By the time Wicked James got to Ormesby, the Pennymans had garnered a lot of land, estates, and money, owning several properties and estates in the North East. Although Wicked James refurbished the house and built the stables for his racehorses, he was fond of spending money on politics, – he was MP for Scarborough 1770-1774 and for Beverley 1774-1796, and gambling, and consequently squandered the family fortune. He ended up selling most of the house lands and furnishings to pay off his gambling debts and moved out of the house to live in Richmond.  He had married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Henry Grey and had 10 children, 6 of whom were males, but only one of the boys survived, William Henry Pennyman who became the 7th and last Baronet, as he had no children. He lived frugally, so the house stayed in the family, but after he died a distant relative, James White Worsley had to change his name to Pennyman in order to inherit. James W managed to buy back several items of furniture for the Hall. He also leased land for housing associated with the new town of Middlesbrough, to make the estate a more viable proposition. Along with his son, another James, they made the final alterations to the Hall,  adding the front porch, the Dining Room extension and the corridors connecting the service wing and main building.

Nothing much more interesting happened until we get to first World War when the house was lived in by Mary Pennyman. She had married into the family, and her husband, guess what his name was!! (clue- begins with J) was a machine gunner in the war who was listed as missing in action, and Mary was the secretary of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers Widows and Orphans Fund and was just 26 years old when she began writing to the wives and mothers of men who were missing or killed during the First World War. 120 of the letters she got in return from the ladies she wrote to were recently found stashed away in the hall, by three National Trust volunteers, and there is now a project ongoing to digitalise the letters and track down the families of the women who wrote them. The letters are so poignant, and you can visit the website at http://www.dearmrspennyman.com.

James, or Jim as he was known, had been severely wounded in the war, but made a full recovery,and returned home to Mary. She got pregnant but died in childbirth, along with the child in 1924. Jims Dad also died a few months later, so Jim wasn’t in a happy place at all. But in 1926 he met and married Ruth Knight and they were very happy together inspite of him being a right winger, and she a dyed in the wool lefty. In the 1930’s unemployment in the area was at 90%, and Jim and Ruth along with other local landowners created land schemes and a way for miners to learn new skills. Jim rented land in Cleveland, and gave it to the miners to grow crops and raise livestock. He also started workshops to train the miners in carpentry and formed Boosbeck Industries for the miners, and rented a showroom in North Ormesby to sell the furniture they made. He provided everything for them and made a personal financial loss in doing so. Ruth meanwhile paid for sewing and knitting workshops for the miners wives. She  promoted the arts in the area and set up local drama groups, making Ormesby known for its theatrical productions. 

In the second World War Jim commanded a battalion of the National Defence Corps as Lieutenant Colonel, giving him the title Colonel James Pennyman, as he is now known. Jim and Ruth were the last of the Pennymans, as he and Ruth never had any children, and when Jim died in 1961 he bequeathed Ormesby Hall and gardens to the National Trust.  Ruth contined to live there until. her death in 1983.

On with the pictures! Today we’ll have a walk around the grounds.

Ormesby Hall

Would love to see this wisteria in bloom!






Stable block

There wasn’t much in bloom when we went, but thing were springing up

and we found bits of colour here and there

Grape Hyacinths

Not sure what this will turn out to be..

Tree of Life

So that’s it for this time, next week we’ll visit inside the house so stay tooned!


All picture by moi, and embiggenable with a click!

Belsay Castle & Quarry Walk – Feb 2019

Our next outing is up in Northumberland, Belsay Castle and the Quarry Walk.

The History Bit

Back in days of yore, the first fortification at Belsay was an Iron Age hillfort, set on a hilly spur known as Bantam Hill.  Not a lot of info on that as no records exist of how big it was, or how long it was occupied, but in 1270 Richard de Middleton, Lord Chancellor to King Henry III had a Manor built there. The Manor stayed in the Middleton family until 1317 when Gilbert de Middleton owned it. At this point in history, Robert The Bruce was on the rampage, and having won a great victory at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 was raiding into England with impunity. Gilbert raised himself a private army to counter the threat of The Bruce, but stupid Gilbert went a bit OTT and ended up raiding  Yorkshire and extorting money from the Bishop of Durham.  It didn’t take long until he was captured, hung, drawn and quartered, and his Manor confiscated. The Belsay estate was passed around a few people but ended up back in the Middleton clan in 1390, when John Middleton extended the manor and built the castle which is still there today. In 1614 the castle was modified by Thomas Middleton who added a Jacobean range on the west side, probably replacing the old manor. A further wing was added round about 1711, and a walled garden in front of the castle. In 1795 the castle passed into the hands of 6th Baronet Sir Charles Miles Lambert Monck who actually had the surname of Middleton but changed his name to that of his maternal grandfather Laurence Monck of Caenby Hall, Lincolnshire who died in 1798, in order to inherit his estate. Because you can never have enough halls and castles. Charlie had traveled to Greece for his honeymoon and became much enamored of Hellenic architecture, so with the help of John Dobson, the North’s most famous architect, he built a  new manor in the grounds of the castle in the Greek Revival style. He and his family moved into the new building in 1817 and just abandoned the castle. Of course, that fell into disrepair and by 1843 parts of the structure were ruinous.

Luckily Sir Arthur Middleton took it on in 1872 and the 1711 wing was demolished and the manorial house was partially rebuilt so it could be used as a dower house whilst the tower itself was restored in 1897. During the 2nd World War, the military used the castle which led to further deterioration, and by 1945 when the Middleton family got it back, they lacked the funds to sort it out. By 1986 Sir Stephen Middleton owned the estate, but moved into a smaller house nearby, leaving the two properties empty. Both of these were transferred into State ownership in 1980 and the site is now in the care of English Heritage.

In the morning Sophie and I had been to see the Crocus field at Wallington, so after lunch, we decided to do the Quarry walk at Belsay. We walked through the Walled garden to get to it.

there wasn’t much going on in it, no spring flowers as yet.

Way out to the quarry

At least there were snowdrops along the way


It was a lovely blue sky day

and the sun shone low through the trees

Walking through the quarry is amazing

So many colours in the rocks

and I was fascinated by how the roots from the trees above split the rocks on their way to finding some ground and therefore nutrients.


when we came out of the quarry we saw the castle ahead.


I love that they keep the windows painted red!

Before the floor fell

The rear view of the castle shows how spectacular it must have been

You can still climb the stairs to the top, which I’ve done in the past, but not this time.

I like how the gardener lets you know what’s going on

Once we’d walked around the castle, we went back through the quarry, so here are a couple more shots of what we saw, and that’s the end of this day out!

all pictures are embiggenable with a click,

full album can be found HERE