Dear Member,
It was with great sorrow that I read of the sudden death of Lady Althea Savile daughter of our patron The Earl of Mexborough, and along with his usual newsletter last month I sent a letter of condolence conveying our deepest sympathy. You always expect, particularly these days more than in the past, that your children will outlive you, and I am told on great authority that when this is reversed and your child dies before you that the grief it brings outweighs any other, and after living through a similar experience a few years ago when a close relative suddenly died, I can empathise with the Earl's feelings and once again say how very sorry I am.
As you will have read in the newsletter of 26th. October 1993 which covered the history of Montagu Hospital, late in the 1880's Mr. Chris Ward was involved in a serious accident in Denaby Pit, and that because of this it was he and Dr. Sykes who agitated for a cottage hospital in Mexborough which was opened in 1890, the building being donated by Andrew Montagu and opened by Mrs. James Montagu (nee Laura Adeline Thelluson).
This lady worked very hard to raise money for our hospital, being the first patroness, and this wasn't the only thing in our town she helped to raise money for either, as The Mexborough Church Handbook to The Sunny Bazaar in 1908 tells us as we find her listed among the patrons here also.
The year after she opened Montagu Cottage Hospital her husband
James died leaving her a comparatively young widow with seven children, and after a couple of years, as is the nature of things, she remarried. This time it was to Henry Linsey Wood, later to become Lord Halifax the owner of Hickleton Hall, and it was here that we visited on the 26th. July 1994.
Their house is now owned by the Sue Ryder Foundation, and after our visit there were many who wished to know more about the property, so I made enquiries and later received through the post a few notes written by English Heritage on the house and outbuildings, and propose to base my newsletter on these this month.
The main part of Hickleton Hall was built between 1745 - 49 for Godfrey Wentworth, the actual building of the hall being taken over by James Paine ( I wonder if he could have been related to the family of Quakers by the name of Paine who lived at Newhill Hall and owned Quaker's Fold Mexborough?) in 1747.
On the east side of the hall are three bays over which is a large triangular piece of carved stonework ( a pediment) and below this is a cornice with brackets. The north wing which now houses the dining room looks very similar externally, but inside can be seen evidence of the 18th century alterations, as the basement now appears to be below ground level which was not so when it was originally built and was changed to match the concealed basement of the 18th century portions of the hall.
When the house was originally built it had a long flowing flight of steps leading from the drive to the entrance (a perron), but as these proved to be totally unsuitable for our bitter winter weather they fell out of fashion, and the house is now approached through tall gate piers, along a drive to a square fore court which is enclosed by high walls.
The south side of the building has a balustraded terrace and is of a more simple plainer design than the rest, therefore telling us that it was built before Paine worked on the house in 1747.
Inside, the rooms are all rectangular and the doors open into a large central hallway which has a chimney piece designed by Paine. There are also to be found here a number of columns (Roman Doric), leading to a small stairs hall opposite the main entrance.
The first flight of stairs leading from the stairs hall just mentioned is made of oak with a wrought iron balustrade, on the first floor landing can be found a group of columns, which is completely unlike the second landing which again has columns but this time they are of an Adam-style Corinthian design and the stair treads are not carved as the ones on
the lower landing, thus it is believed that this could have been added probably in 1775 when further alterations took place. There are two other items internally which could have been added at the same time and both of these also have Corinthian columns and Adam-style ceilings - the ballroom and an octagon shaped room in the north west corner of the house.
The dining room to the east of the main entrance hall has heavily decorative Victorian plasterwork, and the library which stands to the north has Regency detailing.
The bedrooms, however, were very simply designed indeed - each with just a plain cornice and a six panel door.
The service wing which was for the servants stands to the north of the house and is 'T' shaped and was probably added in the latter half of the 18th century. It again is very simply designed on the outside with very plain sash windows.
All the 18th. and 19th. century alterations were done in magnesian limestone ashlar, while the roof is of Westmorland slate, with all the joints of lead, and ashphalt to the flat surfaces. All the chimney stacks are made of magnesian limestone like the house.
The house has one or two early 20th century additions made of concrete, these being the coat of arms attached to the large triangular piece of stonework over the three bays on the east side of the house, the balustrades which line the drive, and the garden house which stands to the west of the terrace.
The stable block was built in 1749, but the south side which faces the house was redesigned by Paine. They are built of magnesian limestone and are designed with three protruding blocks, the centre one of which has an archway for carriages to pass through and a large piece of triangular stonework over it like the east side of the house. The heavy cornice which goes around it stops abruptly at the south wing which proves that this was a fragment of an ambitious stable courtyard.
To the north of this is the carriage house, the eastern two thirds of it being altered to provide accommodation for Lord Halifax.
The Brewhouse built in the middle of the 18th century of magnesian limestone ashlar with a Westmorland slate roof stands to the south west of the stables, and is linked to the servants quarters by walls. It is built in a similar way to the stable block with the same style of arched doorway, but this has a central stone chimney stack.
Hickleton Hall was, until the 2nd. World War, the home of Lord Halifax, but when the war came along it had to be requisitioned for war use, and after this was leased to the Sue Ryder Foundation. In 1960 the Foundation managed to buy the freehold and it was then that my father went there to complete extensive alterations. The roof was renovated in the 1970s and work done on the stonework.
The stable block and brew house were purchased in 1989 and are about to have a new roof on them.
Lord Halifax still continues to own the surrounding land and to keep a flat on the premises which he occasionally uses.
After visiting the hall we were taken on a tour of Hickleton Church which is said to be of 12th century construction with a Norman chancel arch, having on it zig-zag mouldings.
The church is full of heraldic symbols which date mostly from the time of the Halifax family, but there are others which predate these from both the Jackson and Wentworth families, who were the former owners of Hickleton Hall.
The church, like many in the Victorian era, underwent vast alterations in the 1870s, and most of the church we see today dates from this period, when the Halifax Family spent an immense amount of
money redesigning it and refurbishing it into what they imagined to be their ideal of a perfect Church of England church.
In the 1980s large cracks began to appear on the walls, and it was discovered that the church stood on a geographical fault and it is thanks to the N.C.B. that we have the church we see today, as it was their expertise in dealing with subsidence that made it structurally sound by placing three huge jacks beneath it which can be adjusted to any shift in the fault.
Here I will close, If you wish to read the full write up about Hickleton Hall in its entirety, then please do not forget that they are there for you to look at on request as is everything in our archives.
Your Archivist J. R. Ashby
P.S. Please don't forget our Social Evening held at 7:15p.m. on Thursday 8th December 1994 which includes a buffet and local history quiz with a difference. Could you please let me know as soon as possible whether you are to attend so that I know how many to cater for.