Wednesday, 16 October 2013


Brighton Pavilion
This must be the most amazing stately building in  the country. The Royal Pavilion was the fantasy palace of  the Prince Regent, later  King George 1V, who had a simple farmhouse enlarged in the late 18th century, beginning 35 years of transformation which resulted in this extraordinary building with all its domes, spires and minarets reminicent of an Indian Palace with a Chinoiserie interior where no two rooms are the same. The Pavilion is now owned by Brighton Council and is open to the public.


The Royal Pavilion 


Tixall Gatehouse

A very fine building stands rather forlornly in a field alongside the road at Tixall in Staffordshire.  It is a splendidly oversized 16th century gatehouse of a former grand house long demolished. 

 The building has been restored by the Landmark Trust.
Tixall Gatehouse


 Little Moreton Hall


Standing not far from Congleton in Cheshire is a superb example of Tudor architecture which is now in the care of the National Trust.    The building of Little Moreton Hall was started in the 15th century and it has remained virtually unaltered since 1580.   It is regarded as the most perfect example of a timber framed, moated, manor house in the country

 Little Moreton Hall

The Ashton Memorial

This striking building dominates the sky line to the south of Lancaster.
Wikipedia describes the building as follows:
The Ashton Memorial is a folly in Williamson Park, Lancaster, England built between 1907 and 1909 by millionaire industrialist Baron Ashton in memory of his second wife, Jessy, at a cost of over £80,000[1] (£4,588,000 in today's money).[2] At around 150 feet tall, it dominates the Lancaster skyline and is visible for many miles around. It also offers spectacular views of the surrounding area including Morecambe Bay. The building is in the Edwardian Baroque style and was designed by John Belcher. It has been described as "England's grandest folly" and the "Taj Mahal of the North" but simply as "The Structure" by local people.[3] The dome is externally of copper, the main stone used is Portland stone although the steps are of hard wearing granite from Cornwall. Externally around the dome are sculptures representing "Commerce", "Science", "Industry" and "Art" by Herbert Hampton. The interior of the dome has allegorical paintings of "Commerce", "Art" and "History" by George Murray. The floor is of white, black and red marbles.
Today, the memorial serves as an exhibition space on the upper floor and a venue for concerts and weddings.
Damaged by fire in 1962, in 1981 the memorial was closed for safety reasons, to be reopened after being restored during 1985 and 1987.


 The Ashton Memorial

The Grand Hotel
The Grand Hotel dominates the south bay  at Scarborough in North Yorkshire. It was the largest hotel in the country and the largest brick built hotel in Europe when it was built in 1867. It was built in the shape of a V for Victoria with 365 rooms, 52 chimneys, 12 floors and 4 turrets making it ideal for a ‘Victorian yearly holiday.’

The Grand Hotel 


Stately Town Hall

Todmorden is a tiny former textile town in the West Yorkshire Pennine Hills on the border with Lancashire.   Actually this remote place was formerly half in Yorkshire and half in Lancashire until boundary changes in the 1988 put it firmly in Yorkshire.  The showpiece of the town is undoubtedly its magnificent Town Hall, one of the finest municipal buildings of its size in the country.  It was designed by John Gibson and when it opened in 1875, the building was half in Yorkshire and half in Lancashire, having been built astride the River Calder, the historic county border.  The carvings on the top pediment at the front of the building represent the farming and iron trades of Yorkshire on the right and the cotton trade of Lancashire on the left

Todmorden Town Hall

Hotel De Ville

The eccentric Sir William Amcotts Ingilby (1783-1854) of Ripley Castle in North Yorkshire was an eccentric.. During the 1820’s he rebuilt the entire village of Ripley as it is today, remodelling it on a village he had seen on his travels through Alsace-Lorraine in France. The crowning glory of Sir William’s new village was the fine baronial town hall with the inscription ‘Hotel de Ville’.

Ripley Town Hall


Stately railway station


The railway station in St George’s Square at Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, is a very ‘stately’ building.   Built by James Pigott Pritchett at a cost of £19,000, it was completed on 1st October, 1850.   The building has an impressive portico 416ft long, with Corinthian columns 68ft high and has long colonnaded wings.

 Huddersfield Town Hall





Slingsby Castle


Slingsby Castle near Malton in North Yorkshire is something of a misnomer.  This fortified manor house is not quite what it seems for, apart from being wrongly dubbed ‘castle’ it was never in fact occupied.   Sir Charles Cavendish started to build the mansion in c1640 but was called away to fight on the losing side at the Battle of Marston Moor in the Civil War.   He had to flee for his life and took refuge abroad.  His fine house was never lived in and eventually fell into disrepair, leaving the gaunt, ivy clad ruin we can see today.

Slingsby Castle




The Old Hall


The Old Hall at Gainsborough in Lincolnshire is one of the most important surviving medieval houses in the country which is open to the public and has had a chequered history.   It was built in 1484 by Lord de Burgh and remained as a residence until the 18th century.    Since that time it has had an amazing variety of uses.   It was used as a church whilst the parish church was being rebuilt, and as a soup kitchen following the Napoleonic Wars.   It has also been used as a linen factory; as a corn exchange; as a mechanics institute; as a congregational church; as a theatre; as a public house; as a sale room; as a ballroom and as a Masonic Lodge; as well as shops and tenements.

Fortunately this most unusual building has survived and is now in the care of English Heritage.

 The Old Hall

Norwich Union building


Building work on Surrey House, The Norwich Union (now Aviva) headquarters in Surrey Street in Norwich, commenced in 1900 and the fine Palladian style building opened for business in 1904 having been built to fulfil a role to house a successful insurance company. The interior of this building in English Renaissance style is astonishing, it is almost impossible to prepare yourself for your first sight of this incredible spectacle. The entrance hall is the perfectly conceived introduction to what lies ahead, with its domed ceiling and marbled columns said to be the finest of their kind in the world.

It was the architect George Skipper, commissioned to produce a splendid yet functional office space, who persuaded the directors to use marble throughout and indeed for the 40 columns in the main hall. Skipper also incorporated the themes of insurance, protection and wellbeing in his design and his aim was to reassure policyholders, when they entered the building to pay their insurance premiums, of the Society’s strength and prosperity. The spectacular domed ceiling is eleven  metres  in diameter.  A marvel of ingenuity at the turn of the century was the stylish air conditioning fountain, decorated with a host of symbols, which wafted warm air in the winter and cool fresh air in the summer. Whilst public access is restricted to the main hall, visitors can see the magnificent staircase with its six different types of marble, stained glass window and richly painted ceiling. The upper rooms are equally opulent.

The building is still functional but the original Edwardian desks have been replaced by modern furniture.

The variety of marble types used in the Marble Hall lend an air of grandeur to this magnificent structure. Much of the stone was shipped from Italy and Greece, and the work was carried out by two teams of Italian stone masons.

Surrey House is certainly unusual amongst commercial offices and is one of the finest and most beautiful of non-ecclesiastical buildings.

The Norwich Union building

Little Jack Horner

Nursery rhymes are very much part of our heritage and usually derive from some historical fact.
Mells is a very attractive village situated some 3 miles west of Frome in Somerset. It has an unusually large number of listed buildings making most of the village a conservation area. Although there is no public access to Mells Manor, tantalising views of this fine house can be seen from various vantage points. Formerly belonging to Glastonbury Abbey, the manor was acquired in 1543 by one John Horner, following the dissolution of the Abbey in 1539.
Horner had been closely involved in the management of Glastonbury’s estates and his speedy acquisition of Mells Manor is thought to give rise to the nursery rhyme Little Jack Horner. The story goes that, wishing to placate Henry V111, the Abbot of Glastonbury sent him a pie containing the deeds of Mells Manor. The emissary was indeed Thomas Horner who ‘put in his thumb’ and pulled out the deeds! Quite a plum. The property stayed in the possession of the Horner family until recent times.
 Mells Manor
Humpty Dumpty

All that is left of the old Palace of the Archbishop’s of York at Cawood is a fine gatehouse. It is thought that the 14th century palace, which was virtually destroyed in the Civil War, was built on the site of a castle built by King Athelstan. Cawood certainly saw all the glory of the royal court in 1464 when George Neville became Archbishop and upon his arrival at his palace in Cawood he celebrated his appointment by hosting what was said to be the biggest banquet ever. 2,000 cooks prepared a menu consisting of 104 oxon, 1,000 sheep; 2,000 pigs; 500 deer; 15,000 birds and 5,000 tarts, as well as ales and wines, spices and delicacies! It was at Cawood that Cardinal Wolsey had his great fall, as in the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty. It was early in the 16th century that Wolsey won the confidence of Henry V111 and in 1515 he became Lord Chancellor. Unfortunately he fell foul of Henry’s marital desires and the only office left open to him was that of Archbishop of York. He moved to Cawood and was arrested there in 1530 on a charge of high treason, before he was actually enthroned as Archbishop. The unfortunate man died at Leicester Abbey on his escorted journey south.

Cawood gatehouse 

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