Panaramic view

Sawley Hall  | OS Grid Ref: 425626,466831  | Site classified as: Park  | HPG Ref: 60060

Map Evidence

1854 OS Map (National Library of Scotland web site)
Shows the Hall, gardens to SE and to NE of house, with a bothy on the north wall of the garden to the NE. Woodland to the S and W, and open parkland to the S and E. Several outbuildings to the N of the Hall.
A lodge at the public road to NW of house with track through trees heading S to NW corner of the Hall.
To W of the Hall, an area of woodland with a circular feature without trees, possibly a former cockpit. Also a small pond.
Parkland to E, S, and SW with circular features to S and SE containing trees, and a band of woodland to the W of the fishpond.
'Monks Wall' boundary shown alongside the W side of the fishpond. This was a stretch of the boundary of the monastic deer park.
Fishpond to the E marked 'The Dean' and 'site of a fish pond'. Dam at S end of this pond.

Public road to Ripon to N, field boundary to E to woodland containing the Monks Wall which runs alongside the fishpond (marked 'Fish Pond Wood'), and runs S beyond the pond to meet a field boundary to the S. The field boundary meets a bridle road running S and W through parkland. On the W side of this road is 'West Park', open parkland with trees and a band of woodland called 'Mill Gill' to the W of the parkland. Beyond Mill Gill is the public road running N/S which forms the boundary. The woodland S of Mill Gill is named 'Wet Car Wood'.

1896 OS Map (National Library of Scotland web site)
The parkland has been extended to the NE of the Hall, taking in former agricultural land.
The outbuildings to the N and NE of the Hall have increased, and the building on the N wall of the garden has been extended. There are now other small buildings to the E and S of this garden. There is an area of mixed woodland to the S of this garden.
An area of woodland to the W of the Hall is now called 'The Mount' and there is tree planting in the former open circular feature.
There is now an orchard to the NW of the Hall.
The track running from the lodge to the Hall may have been widened.
The woodland to the SW of the fishpond has been named 'Bull Covert'. A bridge has been constructed over this pond at the N end, and there is a boat house on the E bank.

1910 OS Map (National Library of Scotland web site)
No significant changes have been made.

1956 OS Map
No significant changes have been made.

Sawley Hall – Historical Background

Early History: the Nortons of Sawley

The early history of the Norton family is fragmentary. Initially, the family can be traced through their association with the Conyers family. The Conyers descend from the coin-maker (Coignier) to William the Conqueror who was granted land adjoining the River Tees. In the early 12th century there is a record of a gift of lands in Norton and Hutton to the King's councillor Roger de Conyers, and in the 14th century a Roger Coigners married into the Norton family. By 1398 Sir Richard Norton was in possession of Norton Conyers, near Ripon. He married a daughter of the Tempest family and her dowry included lands in Sawley.

In 1559 another Richard Norton was involved in the Rising of the Northern Earls, and when the rising failed his lands were confiscated by the Crown. However, his third son Edmund did not take part in the Rising and was able to settle land at Sawley on his son William on his marriage in 1586. The Sawley estate remained within the Norton family until 1827 when that branch of the family died out.

The Nortons of Sawley are thought to have occupied the Manor House originally, and the present Sawley Hall was apparently built by the Nortons of Grantley in the second half of the 18th century. The Jeffreys map of 1770 indicates that Sawley Hall was the seat of William Norton, the eldest son of Sir Fletcher Norton, 1st Baron Grantley. The Nortons of Grantley never settled in Yorkshire, and it appears that the last members of the Nortons of Sawley were occupying Sawley Hall in the early 19th century. A deed of 1820 mentions 'Grace Eliza Norton of Sawley Hall the widow and relict of Edward Norton late of the same place deceased, and Conyers Norton of Sawley Hall'. Edward had died in 1784. Grace Eliza died in 1823 and her only son and heir Conyers Norton in 1827. He appears to have left substantial debts, and immediately after his death the entire contents of the Hall, the livestock and the farm vehicles and implements were put up for sale. The Hall and estate were put up for sale by auction a few weeks later.

Henry Wormald and the development of the gardens

The Manor and Estate of Sawley were purchased in October 1828 by Henry Wormald (1801-1871), the son of Richard Wormald of the Leeds firm of woollen merchants of Wormald, Gott and Wormalds. The property as advertised in the Yorkshire Gazette consisted of 1549 acres of arable, meadow, pasture and woodland, 304 acres of moorland and a capital Mansion House.

Aside from the auctioneer's description in 1827 of Sawley Hall as "'one of the most beautiful summer residences in the county" there are numerous references in the press of the times to the beauty of the gardens, Henry Wormald's interest in horticulture and the productiveness of the greenhouses and vegetable garden. As early as 1829, the Yorkshire Gazette reported that at the Ripon Horticultural Society Meeting, James Metcalfe, gardener at Sawley Hall was awarded first prize for melons, later that year he won first prize for double dahlias (Amiable Rosette) and again for his melon Cookridge's Green Flesh. Later, H. Wormald's gardener, Mr Featherstone, won first prize for his specimen stove plant. In the 1860s it appears that the gardens of Sawley were frequently opened to the public, notably in June when the flowering shrubs were at their best. Indeed, in June 1868, the Leeds Mercury referred to the "far famed gardens" of Sawley Hall:

For the magnificent display of rhododendrons and other flowering shrubs, in richness and in colour, they are, says our correspondent, unrivalled. Leeds Mercury, 1 June 1868

The magnificence of the displays of rhododendrons and azaleas was regularly commented upon in advertisements for letting the property. The central role played by Henry Wormald in planning his garden was underlined in an article entitled Yorkshire Rambles (Leeds Mercury, July 1877):

The late Mr Wormald of Sawley was a lover of trees and in his time did a great deal of judicious planting. [. . .] The rhododendrons and azaleas in full bloom are finer than anything else that can be seen in the neighbourhood. The late Mr Wormald [. . .] bought these evergreens from Ripley Castle and planted them in this moist glen.

Later history

Henry Wormald died childless in 1871. The property then passed to his nephew Henry Wormald Armitage who took on the name Wormald. However, as he had also inherited the family's Cookridge estate, he did not reside at Sawley which was let out to a succession of tenants. The first was Jeremiah Bourn Faviel, J.P. a railway contractor who also died at Sawley in 1876. Subsequent tenants were T.H. Ramsden from Oakwell, Golcar who took it on a shooting list followed by Mr T. Binns J.P. the founder and managing director of the Yorkshire Varnish Company until his death in 1896.

Following the death of Henry Wormald in 1895, the gardens continued to be periodically open to the public and cultivation of fruit trees, exotics, and bedding plants was maintained. The list of 250 lots of "valuable stove and greenhouse plants" which were sold by auction after the death of Mr Faviel includes: orchids, Indian azaleas, camellias, vines, peaches, apricots and figs in pots, chrysanthemums, primulas, cinerarias, liliums, roses, spirea, zonal geraniums, pelargoniums, oranges, ferns . . . Two years later several thousand plants were again sold by auction and the sale in May 1882 included some 2000 bedding geraniums. Whilst T. Binns and C. N. Nicholson were in occupation the gardens were also opened to the public for Whitsuntide holidays: for instance press reports commented on "the beautiful grounds and gardens of Mr. Binns". (York Herald, June 1891).

When the owner of Sawley Hall Henry Wormald Wormald died at Brighton in 1895, the estate passed to his grandson Major William Francis Wormald. Sawley Hall was let to Charles Norris Nicholson (1857-1918), Liberal MP for Doncaster. By 1919, the property had been sold to Sir John Nicholson Barran (1872-1952). During WWII, from 1940-1947, Sawley Hall was occupied by refugee children from Barnardo's. On the death of Sir John Nicholson Barran in 1952 the property was sold. It remains a private residence.

Whilst subsequent owners will have put their mark on the gardens of Sawley Hall Wormald's legacy has endured the passage of time. A watercolour dated 1941 by the Alderson twins of Girsby featured the display of rhododendrons which are still present today.


Lillian Chandler, Sawley. 2005
Michael Holyoak: Grantley Hall. Grantley Hall College 1996
West Riding Registry of Deeds

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