I know y’all were taken with Frank and Marjorie’s story last week, though I condensed 50 years into a couple of paragraphs so touched on not much more than an inch of it. They come across in Frank’s book as two lovely people, loving each other and their garden and home. I took a phone shot of them from the book, taken in 1994, they’d be in their 50’s here,under the arches of the byre, and sitting next to the falconer statue.
I took a fair few shots of some of the flowers on display, with some interesting (I think anyway) factoids.
After lunch in Morpeth (see the previous 2 posts ) we toddled West for a few miles to visit Herterton House & Gardens, which we somehow hadn’t known about until this month. This was a treat and I wish we’d known about it sooner.
I can’t do a ‘history bit’ as usual, as the Garden is the lifelong work of Frank and Marjorie Lawley, both now in their eighties and still working on the garden in spite of health issues. The house and grounds were leased to them by the National Trust for 50 years, which is due to finish in 3 years time, when it will revert to the trust, and Marjorie and Frank will have to find a care home or somesuch in which to live out their lives. That seems cruel to me, they should be allowed to live in their home which they’ve worked so hard on, even if the Trust take over the work needed in the garden. But who knows what will happen?
Marjorie and Frank were both trained artists, meeting and falling in love back in the 60’s when they were learning their craft, but both fell in love with gardening when living in their first home, a cottage on the Wallington Estate, where Marjorie’s Dad was a stonemason. To cut a long story shortish, they were offered the lease to Herterton House through their contact with Trust officials at Wallington, and in spite of there being little to recommend it, i.e no roof on the house and mould on the walls, the land around it a complete mess, they decided to take it on. Apart from a year when 3 people from the government ‘job creation’ scheme came to help, the majority of the work has been done by Marjorie and Frank, and they’re still at it, with the help of one chap in his 70’s!
Frank wrote a book about their lives, and how they started out, the people they met and learned about plants, flowers and gardening from, how they sourced the antique furniture and pieces for the house, another labour of love, and he dedicated it to his Marjorie, who now has alzheimer’s sadly. It is a beautiful book, and a must for keen gardeners I think, but also for anyone creative, it was a joy to read. There are photo’s of the before and afters, the plans Marjorie drew up for the gardens and some of their artwork.
We met Frank, and he talked to us about it all, and pointed out things for us to see, whilst Marjorie carried on with her job in the garden. There are 4 sections to the garden, the flower garden, the formal garden, the physic garden and the fancy garden, Sophie and I did them all, and here are some photos.
Firstly a couple of shots from the photos we saw in the gazebo
some views from the gazebo
One of the buildings next to the house is an old byre, it contains a couple of statues with bits missing which i think were given by either Wallington or Alnwick, I forget which
also on the wall of the byre is one of only seven three-faced Scottish sundials in this country
There is a pretty wild flower area next to the carpark too.
Next time we’ll have a look at some individual flowers, and there will be a film friday post to go with this at some point (when I get the scans back!) so stay tooned!
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.
Would love to see this wisteria in bloom!
There wasn’t much in bloom when we went, but thing were springing up
and we found bits of colour here and there
Not sure what this will turn out to be..
So that’s it for this time, next week we’ll visit inside the house so stay tooned!