Estate In Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire
Grade I listed mansion house predominantly 18th century.
Ormesby Hall is a National Trust property, who are very selective when taking on properties, so going through the gatehouse arch and along the driveway you look forward to a special place. Open fields are your first vista and this is some of the 240 acres which is part parkland and part farm.
Then the grand stable block (more on that after the main event) comes as a welcome view. After a meet and greet by the volunteers the 1740's three storey Palladian House is there to pique your interest.
Some say the outside is austere and may have been in its time, but we visited on a bright frosty day and the exterior exuded warm tones radiating from the sun.
The estate had been in the Pennyman family for nearly 400 years and had stretched down to the River Tees.
I am starting this history of the family in 1722 when James Pennyman married Dorothy who was one of the daughters of the Archbishop of Canterbury. When the Archbishop died in 1737, Dorothy inherited a healthy sum and Mr and Mrs Pennyman set about building the new house.
It was adjacent to the old house which became the service wing. James died in 1743 and Dorothy finished off the house build and decoration before dying a year later in 1754. Being without children it was left to other relatives who didn't care for it until 1770. .
In steps the villain of this piece, James the 6th Baronet (AKA wicked Sir James 1736 - 1808). He had inherited the lot. So what did he do with it? He spent large sums on gambling and politics and the rest he just wasted! It is said Wicked Sir James even bet on raindrops down a window.
However he did rebuild the stable block into the grander style you see today to house his string of race horses, which he also bred. His racing colours were pea green which probably matched his complexion when he lost.
Sir James had Ormesby Hall redecorated inside in the neoclassical style, notably in the drawing room that became a dining room. Look up at the ceilings and note how the plasterwork adds a touch of class.
By 1779 Wicked Sir James was in debt, and in 1781 had to auction off other properties that he owned. In 1789 he sold the eastern part of the estate. The Western side was entailed so he could not sell that part although he did however sell the lead pipes.
The Library was James Stovin Pennyman's (1830 -1896) study of which he had the door padded so he did not hear any commotion going on in the rest of the house. Browse through the books and you may spy delightful titles such as 'Soil' or 'The fall of the second French Empire Vol 1 and 2'.
Upstairs there are many bedrooms and four poster beds. The one that caught my eye however was a campaign bed most likely from the Napoleonic Wars. Fancy taking that with you to war! All but the kitchen sink.
The anti room is interesting as it was the music room and was used to convene diners before going down to dinner. A carefully placed convex mirror sits above the mantelpiece, and enabled the waiting staff to keep an eye on the guests and family.
There is a corner cupboard depicting a theatrical scene on a chess board which leads us nicely onto the last notable Pennyman, that being Ruth.(1893 -1983) I do hope when you visit you meet the same guide who delighted us with anecdotes regarding Ormesby Hall theatre. There were many productions at the Hall.
One thespian who played Henry V surmised he got the part because he could ride and was instructed to 'gallop' his charger from the stable to the front of the Hall (where the stage was) and deliver his lines.
Ruth Pennyman allowed rehearsals in the kitchen, in which the group would put a big kettle on the stove and in about an hour it and they would be ready for a brew.
Outside the grounds are a delight to walk round and the stable block looks like it is now used by the staff members. Most cars driving through have to pull their wing mirrors in. Unfortunately the inside of the stables are not visible and were last inhabited by the Cleveland mounted police who disbanded in 2014.
There is also a church to explore, although locked on our visit.
Contributed by Rosalind Parker
Thanks for reading through and getting to the end of this post. I enjoy exploring the Fabulous North (Especially as a Southerner residing up North). I like 'snippets' of information, and more so, if they are obscure, amusing or meaningful. The photographs are taken on a mobile phone, without any enhancements.More Places from Rosalind
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