SOCIETY VISIT TO ARDEN HALL AND THE EARL &
COUNTESS OF MEXBOROUGH
On Monday, 7th August 2000, Gary and Ros Barker, Malcolm Jevons and Marion Allen visited the Earl and Countess of Mexborough at Arden Hall in order to take photographs of their portraits of past ancestors for the Society's archives. The visit came about as a result of Gary's day out two years ago to York and the Museum and Art Gallery where one of the portraits was displayed. On enquiring about taking photographs he was told that permission of the owner was needed. We tried to visit last summer but it was impossible to arrange a convenient date. As it was everyone involved had to take a day off work!
It happened to be a glorious day and we travelled around the York ring road and went due north through pretty villages, including
Ampleforth, to Helmsley and beyond through Hawnby village and the beautiful hidden dale in which Arden Hall nestles. The hall itself is stone built, of a moderate size, with alterations and embellishments which were carried out earlier this century which give it the look of an abbey in places.
On arrival we were invited by the housekeeper into a small drawing room and asked if we would like coffee. The Countess arrived and apologised for her husband's absence, he had to go out but would be back shortly. In the meantime we were taken around the fine garden with terraces, water features, stone paving and the biggest and most interesting plants we've seen in a beautiful valley setting. Both the Countess and the Earl were handsome, elegant and well dressed, the Earl looking far younger than his 69 years. We were also introduced to his grandson who was visiting.
After coffee and introductions the Earl leant himself to the task in hand, manhandling the folding steps and taking us from room to room. He was extremely patient in waiting for the photographic processes to be accomplished, often in narrow corridors and difficult circumstances where reflections could be a problem. The photographs, once developed, were slightly disappointing to the photographers, since, as dreaded, they do in fact include some white spots where the flash has reflected. There will not be another opportunity to redo these, but never mind, they will suffice. They do in fact take us to the present day family.
Ros took copious notes and family trees were available for further information. After two and a half hours the tasks were finished and we closed our visit with photographs with the Earl in the garden.
Extracts from : ENOUIRE WITHIN UPON EVERYTHING - Dated 1863
Sweeping Carpets - Persons who are accustomed to use tea - leaves for sweeping their carpets, and find that they leave stains, will do well to employ fresh cut grass instead. It is better than tea - leaves for preventing dust, and gives the carpets a very bright fresh look. (Is this a new idea for Mr Dyson?)
Cautions in visiting the sick - Do not visit the sick when you are protigued, or when in a state of perspiration, or with the stomach empty - for in such conditions you are liable to take the infection. When the disease is very contagious take the side of the patient which is near to the window. Do not enter the room first thing before it has been aired and when you come away, take some food, change your clothing immediately and expose the latter to the air for some days. Tobacco smoke is a preventative of malaria. (Mexborough Heritage Society do not recommend this as a preventative).
When to change the water in which leeches are kept - Once a month in winter, and once a week in summer, is sufficiently often. Unless the water becomes discoloured or bloody, when it should be changed everyday. Either clean pond water or clean rain water should be employed.
MEMORIALS OF OLD MEXBOROUGH Part 4, by William J.J. Glasby
Leaving the most interesting topic, viz., the Church, to be dealt with in a later chapter, we will seek out such old buildings as may repay us for our trouble. On the left of Doncaster Road, coming from the town of that name, and just before we reach Pinfold Lane, some old farm buildings are to he seen. The history of them, or their earliest tenants seems to be unknown; but upon two of the buildings we notice letters and symbol carved on the stone lintel over each of the doorways. The first on the left hand side of the entrance is as follows :- and immediately in front of this building facing the south; with lettering very similar, and to all appearances cut by the same person who was author of the proceeding :-
Although no knowledge can be obtained with regard to these buildings, we look with reverence upon the handiwork of past generations, which f% two centuries has defied the ravages of time and decay, and remain proofs of the thorough workmanship of those who have long since passed away.
Still continuing along the main road, to the right appears the National School, a neat stone building. Upon this site once stood the Structure which formerly served in a like capacity, but was far inferior to the present edifice. The first was a long, low stone building approached by the ascent of two steps up to the little porch. The floor and roof consisted of stone flags; the interior being partitioned for the purpose of forming a separate room each for boys and girls. For the Schoolmaster, in one corner stood an old desk and armchair, the remainder of the rooms containing the seats and desks for the scholars. The demolition of the schoolhouse in 1845 has removed from our midst an interesting fabric, but as Time cycles the world expands, and that which did duty well erstwhile, becomes all too strait for the enlarged requirements of succeeding generations.
Passing along the same side of the road there shortly appears the remains of the old Rock pottery, - although at the time of writing the wreckers are in possession, - and speedily upon a portion of the site will be raised a temple to the spread of Wesleyanism; for here will be built the new. Wesleyan Chapel.
After the death of Mr. Reed, the owner, in 1870 the pottery was taken by Mr. Sydney Wolf until 1883. Passing to Mr. Wilkinson, it was worked by him till 1885 when the place was dismantled, the plant being sold by auction. Little now remains save the old cupolas, recalling to the memories of many the prosperity of the pottery in its palmiest days. So, hastening an easterly direction make a line for the old Church.
On the left of Market Street are two little cottages, types of many in country villages, but to these is attached an interest not exceeded by any other. Here dwelt Mrs. Kilham, the Mexbro' Centarian, who died in September, 1891, having lived for 103 years, 100 years after the death of her mother and residing in this house for 74 years.
A few steps along the same side of the street are six quaint cottages with courtyard running along the front. In these are to be found the old people, who, having passed through their active years, seek retirement from the battle of life and spend their last days in enjoyment of a well earned rest.
Welcome back, I hope you all enjoyed yourselves and will take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year.
The trip programme is taking shape, two already arranged and more to come. Anyone who attended our first meeting this season back in September will remember it well, the enthusiasm of Eric Holder was infectious as he described the War of the Roses. As I mentioned in an earlier Newsletter Eric agreed to give us a tour of the battle field at Towton, this has been arranged for Saturday 12 May,, leaving Mexborough at 12 noon. This visit will consist of walking over farmland and lanes with Eric describing the action and outcome, hopefully finishing in the local pub for a meal, landlord permitting.
The other visit is to Calke Abbey, a National Trust property 10 miles south of Derby. As at Brodsworth the house has not been restored; it remains a family home unchanged for most of the 20th century, with 600 acres of parkland, a walled garden, a church and stable block. Everyone should find something of interest. A guided tour has been arranged before the house opens to the public at 11.15 am. The date for this visit is 16 June leaving Mexborough at 9.00 am.
Once again we have booked a small coach with the option to upgrade to a larger vehicle if necessary. This proved successful last year, but the smaller coach works out more expensive. Lets try and fill the large coach. Could you please let me have names as soon as possible.
The week before Christmas I was invited to Sprotborough Church Hall to receive a cheque from Alf Taylor, Chief Executive of Doncaster Council. This money comes from the West Community Forum and is to be used to purchase :display boards for exhibitions. I had my photograph taken with a very large vinyl cheque which was taken off me at the end of the night! The picture was published in an obscure free paper 'The New Chronicle' which is not available in Mexborough and the genuine cheque still has not arrived.
As I begin to write the last paragraph about a benefit concert held at the Corner Pocket for Barrie Chambers, I received a phone call from Marion telling me that Barrie sadly passed away last night, finally succumbing to cancer after a courageous battle. Although a private person, he did not attend many meetings, he worked tirelessly researching Mexborough's past, building up his own archive of considerable importance, also writing several books. To his wife and family we offer our condolences.