Brougham Hall

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Just a mile south of Penrith is the estate of Brougham Hall. Originally a medieval manor house, the site has been fortified since 1307 and the last battle on English soil was fought in the meadows below Brougham on 18th December 1745 – the climax of the ’45 Rebellion (Jenkins, 2003). The ruin of Brougham Hall conceals a long history. The name Brougham derives from Brocavum, celtic for home of the badgers, and was adopted by the Romans for their fort located one roman mile north east of the Hall. Brocavum Fort commanded the bridge over the River Eamont and controlled the junction of the principle roman road from York to Carlisle with the secondary roman road to Ambleside and Hardnott. Until 1237 Scotland started at Brougham and the St Andrews Cross still flies from local churches. King Alexander, Prince Charles Stuart of Scotland, King Henry II, King Richard I, King Henry III, King Richard III, King James I and King Charles I of England have all had an influence on this area. With history that can be traced back to the Late Neolithic Period, Brougham Hall has been host to many great characters. From Hadrian and his northern defences to Winston Churchill, accompanied by Eisenhower, who came to inspect his top secret C.D.I tanks. These vehicles were used in the first Rhine crossing at Remagen on 7th March 1945. Initially owned by the de Burgham family, ownership of the house was divided into three parts during the 13th century and remained this way until 1676. On the death of Lady Anne Clifford, her share was sold to James Bird, her trusted agent, which gave him full ownership of Brougham. James was responsible for extensive building work and the expansion for the Hall. Part of the estate was already owned by the Broughams prior to James Bird and it wasn’t until John Brougham of Scales bought Brougham Hall in 1726 that the Hall was returned to Brougham ownership. The Lord Chancellor of England, Lord Brougham and Vaux, also lived at Brougham Hall and after successfully defending Queen Caroline against King George IV in 1820, he went on to design the famous Brougham Carriage.

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Brougham Hall received license to crenelate in 1307 and the oldest surviving building above ground level at the Hall is the Tudor building in the courtyard. Dating to around 1480, the door, lower windows and upper west window are all original with two upper windows later installed, as is the machicolation over the door. The date of the building falls at about the most turbulent time in British history when no fewer than four monarchs came and went within a three year period. Richard III was well known in the Penrith area as ‘Lord of the North’ and his reign, between 1483-1485, was also short-lived. The fine studded panelled entrance gates (above) are made of Oak and date to the Tudor period. Still in use every day, the gates have been repaired in finest quality English Oak by a master craftsman, in memory of Brougham’s Clerk of Works, Don Mawdsley, who sadly passed away in 2003. The gateway doors are in a round chamfered arch under a machiolated parapet and originally there was an inner lock which was dated and inscribed AP 1680 (Anne Countess of Pembroke). The nails, bolts and hinges attached to the door also date from the Tudor period. History was made at 11am on 15th October 1905 when King Edward VII set off through this early 17th century gate to Raby Castle, over Stainmore, in the first motorcade in the north of England driven by a British monarch. Setting off along a 54 mile stretch of road (which had been hand-swept to ensure that the king did not get a puncture!), there was a policeman at every intersection pointing in the direction that the king should go. A 40hp plum coloured Mercedes was taken to Brougham Hall from Balmoral specially for the journey and various other motorcars joined in this historic event.

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The First Lord Brougham acquired the Hall in 1810 and under the stewardship of his younger brother William, the house was restored and improved. As Brougham Hall is en route to Balmoral Castle in Scotland, it was host to royalty on several occasions and became known as The Windsor of the North. The house remained in the Brougham family for four generations until the 4th Lord Brougham, Victor Henry Peter, accrued numerous debts and was forced to sell the estate in 1934. Purchased by his neighbour, Major Carleton Cowper, Brougham Hall was stripped and partly demolished. The site retains the fortified walls of the original enclosure and the ruins of the Hall, billiard room, coach archway and the cellars beneath. The remaining buildings are constructed from mixed sandstone rubble with ashlar dressings and the hall range has only the cellars and a few courses of stonework that still survive. The last substantial structure to be built at Brougham was the tower, Lord Chancellor’s Den (below), built by Richard Charles Hussey, Vice President of the RIBA, in 1864. The tower sits on huge foundations of a much earlier tower and incorporates an early example of a Bitumastic damp-proof course. On the ground floor there was a full sized billiard room and in the office above, Henry Peter, Lord Chancellor of England, thought out some of his famous contributions to British history – the Great Reform Bill of 1832, the establishment of the Charity Commission, the reform of the Privy Council, the establishment of the Old Bailey, the establishment (with Bentham and the Prince Consort) of London University and many other far reaching pieces of socialistic legislation. Phase I of the restoration of this tower was completed in 2012 and involved the de-vegetating, stabilising and reinforcing the upper-most part of the ground floor of what will eventually be a three floor tower. The ultimate aim is to house an extensive collection of site specific Regency State papers (an archive containing many of Lord Brougham’s more important documents, which are of national and international importance) and become a public exhibition and scholarship centre. Phase II will involve the reconstruction of the first and second floors and Phase III will involve the archiving and conservation of the aforementioned documents.

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Winston Churchill commandeered Brougham Hall, Lowther Castle and Greystoke Castle in 1942 for the development of an extraordinary weapon. The Canal Defence Light was a top secret weapon devised between the two great wars and a development and testing site was set up in and around Brougham Hall. The tank was equipped with a 13 million candlepower white arc light which had a strobe operating at a frequency that had the effect of temporarily blinding the enemy. These tanks were without any other offensive weaponry and the intention was to move forward in a V formation of 150 tanks which comprised three squadrons of 50 tanks. On 5th May 1942 Winston Churchill drove through the 17th century gateway arch to inspect the Canal Defence Light Tanks and in December of the same year, he returned to watch the trials of this secret weapon. Although the tanks were never used as intended, they were used to illuminate the Rhine for the Remagen crossing on 5th March 1945 and for operations in Mesopotamia and north Eastern India. A plaque under the staircase in the courtyard has been erected, unveiled by Brigadier Ewan Morrison on 16th July 1992, dedicated to the memory of the officers and men who served at Brougham Hall between July 1942 and June 1944. These men were drawn from the 1st and 35th Tank Brigades of the 79th Armoured Division and were supported by the R.E.M.E. who left in 1945. After the war, the army camp at Brougham was used as a displaced persons camp until the early 1950’s and thereafter, it was used by the Ministry of Supply as a petrol dump.

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Over the next couple of decades Brougham Hall became a neglected ruin despite being purchased by two companies who had intended to make commercial gain from the land. Christopher Terry had fallen in love with the dilapidated Hall during the 1960’s and after hearing of plans to build on the land, he acquired Brougham in 1985. The Brougham Hall Charitable Trust was founded in 1986 and for one peppercorn, Christopher Terry transferred the Hall to the Trust on 8th October of the same year. Committed to conservation, Christopher has intended to restore Brougham as it was externally and having been rescued from dereliction, restoration work also commenced in 1986. Now home to an array of arts and crafts workshops and businesses, the Hall has a restored Tudor Block, Brewery and Stable Block. Priority is given to the parts of the building that are in most urgent need of attention and original building materials are being re-used wherever possible. Brougham Hall has its own skilled craftsmen and thankfully, there are sufficient drawings, photographs and paintings to be certain of the external appearance of the building.

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While the tracery of the ornate windows looks delicate, it actually weighs well over a ton. One of the windows in the Lord Chancellor’s Den was repaired by master craftsmen in May 2005 and it took three men to lift the larger pieces of stone. The sculpture of Christ (below) is the work of Josefina de Vasconcellos who continued to visit Brougham long after her 100th birthday. Helen Beatrix Potter was also a frequent visitor to Brougham Hall as her brother in law, the Reverend Arthur John Heelis, was the Rector of Brougham from 1900-1922. The Rev Heelis had a Phoenix three-wheeled car, which is still in existence and this was the sixth car to be registered in Westmorland. Beatrix Potter complained often about having to push this car to a start every time she came to Brougham! On one of her visits, she gave a copy of ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ to Eileen Brougham for her birthday and signed the flyleaf: “to Princess Eileen, on Peace Day, Brougham, August 23rd 1919”. Peace Day was chosen to celebrate the official end of the War. Beatrix Potter’s husband, William Heelis, was a solicitor and he chaired a Coroner’s inquest after James Maughan from Byker in Northumberland was killed by falling masonry in the Lord Chancellor’s Den. Maughan was 22 years old and his demise was pronounced “accidental death” in the days before Health & Safety. The co founder of the National Trust Canon Rawnsley was also a frequent visitor to Brougham Hall.

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In November 2010, Brougham obtained full planning consent and listed building consent to proceed with one of the very few specially built political archive centres in the country. This consent was expanded in October 2013 to include the greater part of the remainder of the Hall. Of British Library calibre, the best of Brougham’s papers, of which many are hand illuminated on vellum, are to be mounted in a rotating exhibition in the Lord Chancellor’s actual office at Brougham. The display will be on two levels – a public exhibition and a separate static one for students of Politics and Economics and scholars. One of the buildings in the courtyard is devoted to the preservation of parts of the history and heritage of Brougham Hall and the encouragement of vernacular skills. NADFAS are currently engaged on a three year programme to clean and restore a 1675 Flemish Oak screen which once adorned the Brougham Armour Hall until the sale of the 1930’s. It was then removed to a church in Ayrshire, the roof of which collapsed onto the screen causing considerable damage which is now being rectified. Other projects involve workshops and the restoration of a Brougham Carriage, made in Paris in 1894, the restoration of two mid 18th century sphinx and the restoration of a stained glass window for the Lord Chancellor’s Den.

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From 1837 Brougham Hall has had a fascinating and varied vehicular history. Designed by the first Lord Brougham, the Brougham Carriage was the veritable Volkswagen of horse drawn vehicles. In 1837 Henry Peter Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux, Whig Politician, and Lord Chancellor to William IV, perceived a need which would make his mark on the carriage world forever. With coachmen and grooms waiting into the small hours for debates to finish in the Palace of Westminster, his usual form of transport was cumbersome and labour intensive. Brougham thought there was a need for “a refined and glorified street cab that would make a convenient carriage for a gentleman, and especially for a man of such independence of ideas as one who carried his own carpet bag on occasions when time was important and his own servants otherwise employed!” (Furnival, 1999). This carriage was the first to have elliptical springs and his revolutionary design included the necessity of being light and compact and needing only one horse and coachman. Lord Brougham’s coach builders, Messrs Sharp and Bland of South Audley Street, advised him that his designs would never find popular appeal. To their eternal discredit, they completely failed to recognise the potential of Lord Brougham’s design. Lord Brougham duly took his design round the corner to the Mount Street premises of a neighbouring firm, Robinson and Cook (later to become Cook and Holdway of Halkin Place, London), and on 15th May 1838 the first Brougham Carriage rolled off the production line. Thousands of this carriage were eventually produced in factories all around the world. The original 1838 Brougham Carriage, which was used by Lord Brougham, Gladstone and Disraeli, was restored in 1977 by the company of Coachmakers and Coach Harness Markers to commemorate HM Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee. It was exhibited that year at Ascot and the Guildhall and then presented to the Science Museum in South Kensington.

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1838 Brougham Carriage (Ragley Hall Collection)

 In 1995 the fourth Lord Brougham purchased two eight litre Bentleys, of which only 100 of these vehicles were ever made, and both cars are still in existence. Wolfie Benarto, the Chairman and owner of Bentley Motors, was a regular visitor to house parties at Brougham Hall. In 1931 Rolls Royce bought Bentley Motors and on 16th May 2004, Brougham Hall played host to the Rolls Royce & Bentley Enthusiasts Club who were celebrating the centenary of Mr Royce meeting Mr Rolls. Cumbria Classic Cars makes an annual visit to Brougham Hall with numerous other arts festivals and events held throughout the year.

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Courtyard Door Knocker Brougham Hall

There are only four known examples of the 12th century design of the door knocker (above) in existence – two are in Durham and two from Brougham. Both of the Durham rings were bronze and the sanctuary ring on the north door of Durham Cathedral (below) is considered to be “one of the most striking achievements of Romanesque bronze casting” (Archaeologia, Vol 107 1982). During the medieval period, Durham Cathedral offered St Cuthbert’s protection to fugitives who had committed a great offence. Those claiming sanctuary held onto the ring of the Sanctuary Knocker, which dates to 1172, until a monk admitted them into the Cathedral. Sanctuary seekers were given a black robe to wear and offered 37 days of sanctuary in the Cathedral, after which they either chose to stand trial or were taken to the coast and sent into exile. The right of sanctuary was abolished in 1623. Concern was expressed for the safety of the Sanctuary Knocker at Durham Cathedral in 1977 and eventually the decision was taken to remove it and replace it with a copy. There was no evidence to suggest that the ring had been removed previously and for the first time, it was possible to thoroughly examine the ring in laboratory conditions. The Victoria and Albert Museum carried out metallurgical tests and the British Museum made a cast (Archaeologia, Vol 107 1982). The original Sanctuary Knocker is displayed in the Durham Cathedral Treasury with the copy now hanging on the north door. The Brougham ring was made of iron and similar to the one at Durham Cathedral, it faced due north, on the courtyard gate. The Brougham ring was stolen and in an attempt to replace it, the Brougham Hall Charitable Trust asked the Bishop of Durham for consent to use the mould cast by the British Museum. Although the Bishop was amenable, the Dean and Chapter were not so the long task of drawing another from the monster’s head began. Carved in wood, a sand mould, in seven pieces, was taken from the wooden head and finally cast in bronze by Collier’s Foundry in Sussex in 1993. This copy now graces the courtyard door at Brougham Hall.

Brougham Hall is Grade II* Listed.

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Sanctuary Knocker Durham Cathedral

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Ragley Hall: Stable Block

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The stable block at Ragley Hall dates to the mid 18th century and is attributed to James Gibbs. The north court and the central block (above) were remodelled in 1780 and are the work of James Wyatt. Constructed of limestone ashlar with limestone dressings, the buildings feature stone chimneys, slate hipped roofs and continuous string course throughout. The symmetrical central court has a central round archway with Gibbs surround and flanking niches. The first floor has oeil de boeufs (small round or oval window) and a central square window. The pediment details a clock in front of an octagonal attic with oval openings.

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The semi-circular side wings feature Diocletian windows above the round arched doorcases with sash windows to the first floor attic. The north court (above) also features a central round archway with Gibbs surround and first floor oeil de boeufs.

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The south range of the stable block (above) consists of a loggia with fourteen Tuscan columns and entablature with triglyph frieze. The wall behind features four sash windows, in Gibbs surrounds, alternating with eight oeils de boeufs.

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The buildings which make up the stable block are Grade II* Listed.

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Ragley Hall: Carriage Collection

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The circular stables at Ragley Hall were designed by James Wyatt in 1780 and one of the wings is now home to an impressive collection of carriages and coaches. Dating to 1838, the Brougham (above) is a light four wheeled horse drawn carriage. Featuring an enclosed body with two doors, the carriage has a split glazed front window which allowed the occupants to see forward.

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The State Coach (above & below) was used by aristocratic families for occasions of state and for important social functions. Designed in the early 19th century, they were heavily decorated to reflect the wealth and importance of their owners. The Coach would be drawn by a pair of horses with a coachman and two footmen. The State Coach features a box seal mounted on a Salisbury boot with an undercarriage heavily carved. The interior trimming of the vehicle is fitted with Morocco leather silk with wonderful carriage laces. This model dates to circa 1890 and was made by Barker & Co. Chandos Street.

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Also known as tub carts, Governess Cars (below) first appeared at the end of the 19th century. Describing both their name and their use, Governess Cars featured a deep low-hung body with a door at the back. Such carriages were suitable for small ponies and were controlled by a driver who sat in the back offside corner of the body. These beautiful and simply designed carriages were made by Brown & Son of Windsor.

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Lapworth: Packwood House

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Packwood House is located in the village of Lapworth and has wonderful views of Two Pits Park and 1.5 hectares of formal gardens. The two storey late 16th century house derives its name from the Saxon ‘Pacca’s Wood’ with the earliest mention of the name dating to 1190 when Walter Chaplain of Packwood witnessed a deed. Much of the surrounding land belonged to the Benedictine monks of Coventry but after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530’s, the property changed hands repeatedly. Packwood House was sold to John Fetherston for £340 in 1598. The Fetherston family had been living in nearby Knowle since the 15th century and John is believed to have built the core of the present Packwood, including the tall gables of his new ‘great mansion howse’.

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The inventory made in 1634 suggests that the building was furnished like a prosperous farmhouse. The timber framed building has been covered with cement render since the early 19th century and underwent an extensive restoration programme in 1925-1932. Supervised by Edwin Reynolds, the restoration included alterations to the interior, construction of the single storey Long Gallery and replacement of the 19th century fenestration with timber mullion and transom windows.

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The Hall

The Hall had a light oak balustraded gallery on three sides with a wrought iron chandelier before being substantially altered by Baron Ash in 1931. Characteristic of the Edwardian era, the walls were still pierced with mullioned windows and there was frieze high panelling. During the 20th century renovations, the timber ceiling was inserted, a single gallery of linenfold panelling was built and a new floor of oak from Lymore Park in Montgomeryshire was laid down.

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The Long Gallery

The Long Gallery was created by Baron Ash to join the two Great Halls together. His architect, Edwin Reynolds, had considerable experience of remodelling historic buildings such as Aston Hall and Blakesley Hall. The oak floorboards were taken from Lymore Park and the panelling taken from Shaftsmoor in Hall Green.

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The Long Gallery is embellished with rich tapestries which include The Coronation of Marcus Aurelius and St Remy crowning Charles VII before Joan of Arc. 

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Beautifully detailed 17th century stained glass adorns the windows along the Gallery.

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The Great Hall

The Great Hall was formerly detached from the house and used as a cow-byre and barn. The 17th/18th century barn is linked on the north west corner of the house by the Long Gallery and it took its present form in 1924-1927. A sprung floor for dancing was installed and the hayrack has been adapted into a balustrade for the gallery. The grand oak refectory table measures 6.4 metres long and is the centrepiece of the room. The Jacobean pattern supports are early 17th century and the table was purchased by Baron Ash from Cecil Ferrers at Baddesley Clinton in the mid 1930’s. Pre-war photographs show that the table was previously placed against the tapestries in the Long Gallery. The beautiful exposed roof timbers spring from corbels modelled on originals at Carcasonne in south west France. The Great Hall is surrounded by stunning hanging tapestries some of which depict portuguese scenes, 16th century scenes portraying the story of Saul and a 16th century series from Brussels which were bought from Aske Hall in Richmond.

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The Inner Hall

The Inner Hall is accessed from the west end of the Screens Passage. This was originally the entrance hall until the drive across the causeway in the park was given up in the 19th century. The wonderful original timber framing was revealed when the Edwardian panelling was removed. The room is decorated with mostly 17th century furniture and 17th century Dutch textiles bought from Baddesley Clinton.

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The Study

The Study adjoins the Inner Hall and has original, richly embellished, Jacobean panelling. The fireback is English and dates to 1635.

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The Dining Room

Although the moulded ceiling beams are original, the Dining Room has been much altered. The focal point of the room is the 17th century English oak table with six walnut chairs which date to between 1650-1675.

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Queen Margaret’s Room

Queen Margaret’s Room is named after Henry VI’s Queen who is said to have slept in the bed (above) in 1471 before the Battle of Tewkesbury. The pillars and canopy are upholstered in a light woollen material with red braiding. The bed was bought by Baron Ash at the sale of the contents of Owlpen Manor in Gloucestershire in 1927. The cloth inscription above the bed reads:

“A conservationist and collector. I do this as an antidote to the decay and demolition of so many old houses all over the country. I am rescuing whatever I can from other places and preserving it here. Graham Baron Ash, c1935 “

When the Packwood Conservation and Engagement Team moved the bed, they discovered that at some point in the past, repairs had been made to the head cloth and that to attach it to the frame, the cloth had been stretched around the head posts and stitched to linen tapes nailed to the frame. Before the head cloth and valances were reinstated, they were cleaned and the damage repaired with stitch Velcro along the top edge.

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The Yew Garden, according to legend, represents the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ and are over 350 years old. Part of the ground was originally set out by John Fetherston between 1650 and 1670. The area in front of the house had remained as a lawn since the Second World War and the decision to reinstate this scheme was taken in 2004. The scheme restored the link between the house and the Yew Garden. Work was completed over two winters between 2005 and 2006 and the Breedon gravel paths offer a practical solution to Packwood’s numerous visitor numbers.

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Converted 17th century stables flank the east side of the building and feature an asymmetrical facade with double arched doors, engaged brick piers and stone mullioned windows.

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Packwood House, Barns and Stables are Grade I & Grade II Listed.

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