Bewerley Hall shown with gardens to the south and west. Mixed tree planting and paths leading south from the Hall to the north of Fosse Gill.
As above plus an enclosed rectangular garden lying between the Hall to the east and the medieval chapel to the west.
No reference. The Hall had been demolished and the site subsequently developed
Bewerley Hall, no longer extant, was the main residence of the Yorke family from the 18th to the early 20th century. It stood in the village of the same name, near to Pateley Bridge which lies at the other side of the river Nidd. The manor of Bewerley had been bought by Dame Mary Yorke in the 17th century but the family's homes at Gouthwaite Hall in Nidderdale and The Green in Richmond were the preferred places of residence for the next two generations. The first of the family to make their home in Bewerley Hall were John Yorke (1733-1813) and his wife Elizabeth. There is some doubt about the age of the original Hall but at that time it appears to have been built in a relatively unadorned style. John, however, began to aggrandise the building, having two circular towers added and a morning room with a further room above. He also purchased a nearby property, Tudor House, and, on the rocks of Guiscliffe high above his home, had a mock ruin built which became known as Yorke's Folly.
A second John (1776-1857) inherited from his uncle. He also made his home in Bewerley and made many changes to the Hall, particularly in anticipation of his marriage to Mary Wright in 1821. A west wing and third tower were added in the neo-gothic style including, as detailed in the builder's accounts, 'corbels, arrow slits and battlements'. The south side was then re-fronted, bay windows were enlarged and a new north-east wing was built which provided more service rooms.
The next heir, a third John (1827-1883), apparently made few, if any, changes to the Hall itself but continued his father's work in having repairs done to tenants' dwellings and in developing the farms and their associated buildings. In 1883 his brother Thomas Edward (1832-1923) inherited the estate. He noted in his journal that 'a great improvement' had been made to the Hall by the new bedrooms he had added to the west wing. He also had an imposing porch built over the main entrance, surmounted by the family arms and, in the early 20th century, a new laundry was built and the old one was converted into a ballroom and smoking room.
Thomas Edward's heir, his grandson John Edward Evelyn (1904-1997), inherited in 1923. In those years following World War One, because of increased taxes, a gloomy economic climate and difficulties in finding labour, many landowners sold their estates. Similarly, mainly because of the family's financial problems and because John was a minor when he inherited, it was his mother May who decided to sell. In addition to the Hall and its grounds the whole estate with farms, cottages and land was offered for sale in 1924; the Hall was bought by speculators who demolished it shortly afterwards and the grounds and gardens were divided up for sale in individual lots. The only surviving part of the Hall itself is the lower section of the tower from the south-west corner, which now stands in the garden of one of the houses subsequently erected on the site. The footprint of the main part of the Hall is in another garden and is now grassed over. Some other parts of the domestic wings of the Hall remain, now incorporated into dwellings.
The catalogue produced in 1924 for the sale of the estate, portrayed a well-maintained garden of many features which were 'widely known for their beauty of position, extensive nature and taste and skill in design'. There were 'sweeping lawns', a box border, gravelled beds, a rockery, flower borders and evergreen shrubs including massed rhododendrons and azaleas. A 'shrubbery' is mentioned by the second John Yorke in a letter sent to Mary Wright before their marriage.
These gardens had been developed, mainly during the 19th and the early 20th centuries, to the south and west of the hall. During this time many new varieties of trees and other plants were introduced into the country. Existing 19th century images of the gardens of Bewerley show island flower beds scattered around in the extensive lawns - a typical Victorian arrangement which allowed the exotic plants to be viewed from all angles. A number of conifers are also shown, placed individually so they too could be seen to their full advantage. Sinuous paths sloped down through the lawns to a rock garden which was built in the second half of the 19th century; it stands in a shady area, dropping steeply to where Foss Beck flows at the southern end of the garden.
Edward Yorke recorded in his journal that his mother Mary (née Wright) laid out a flower garden in 1849 in which 'she took the greatest pride'. This is thought to be the garden which stood west of the Hall, between that and a medieval chapel which had been built around the end of the 15th century for the Bewerley Grange of Fountains Abbey. In a painting done by Mary herself entitled 'The Fountain Garden', the chapel is shown forming an unusual and striking backdrop to the garden. Steps lead up to a partially enclosed space, bordered at the far end by a framework or pergola which supports climbing plants. In the centre there is a circular basin surmounted by a dolphin fountain and stone urns stand on plinths at the top of the steps. Approximately forty years later, photographs taken of Mary's granddaughters in this garden show the same fountain, urns and framework and what appear to be the 'quaintly designed box border and gravelled beds' mentioned in the sale catalogue of 1924. In these early photographs, and in the ones in the catalogue, the flower beds can be seen to be very varied in shape and size, bordered by low planting which could be box.
As the pleasure gardens which stood close to the Hall were divided up in the 1920s then sold in separate lots for the building of several houses, much of the overall layout of the original gardens has disappeared. However, some features and planting survive. Fortunately, much of the layout of the 'Fountain Garden', with its iron pergola and asymmetrical flower beds, still exists in a private garden which is sheltered by the ancient chapel; the stone urns and the dolphin fountain, however, are no longer there. Other features which remain include a large ring of azaleas which evidence suggests was planted around the very end of the 19th century. The massed rhododendrons, which are mentioned in documents from both the 19th and 20th centuries, continue to thrive and many ornamental trees remain, including yews, a copper beech and two grand Wellingtonia, which also must have been planted over a century ago. Parts of the sweeping lawns exist, sloping down to the rockery which remains intact at the southern end of one of the present-day gardens. These features are all on private property but the chapel, which stands by the roadside, can be visited.
During the time of the Yorkes' ownership, further notable, varied landscapes were developed around their home by succeeding generations of the family. These other developments included parklands, woodlands which included Ravensgill, Guisecliffe and Fish Pond Wood with its ice house. An extensive walled kitchen garden was developed alongside the nearby Tudor House and a formal, intriguingly named Pope's Garden stood in front of that ancient dwelling. A nursery and allotments were established in the village and reservoirs were constructed to provide a water supply for both house and gardens. Some of the design and planting of these areas has disappeared but many of the significant features of the designed landscapes of the 18th and 19th centuries can still be found.
Ashley Cooper, Anne (1988) Yorke County, Hexton, Herts.
Waterson, Margaret Hadley (2015) From Folly to Flower Garden: The Yorkes in Nidderdale, Historic Parks and Gardens
Yorke family archives, Halton West and WYAS, Leeds
Bewerley Hall Sale Catalogue (1924)
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