By Viv Wilson in Life at The Hall, Growing Up In Stately Home | 7 days ago
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF AN UPPER CLASS FAMILIY: On 11th August 1863, Hugo Francis Meynell Ingram married the Hon. Emily Charlotte, daughter of Sir Charles Wood, Bart, afterwards 1st Viscount Halifax. The Woods were an old gentry family, for many centuries respectable York merchants. They were later to turn grand upon the discovery of coal beneath their ancestral estates. This was the great Barnsley field, with several hundred acres of Britain's deepest and finest coal. Sir Charles Wood was created 1st Viscount Halifax in 1866 and had a very distinguished political career. The family seats of Garrowby, Pocklington and Hickleton (where Emily was born) had been acquired by his father from the Wentworth family; they also owned a London house in Belgrave Square.
Hickleton House, near York
Emily Charlotte's mother was Lady Mary Grey, youngest daughter of Charles Grey, 2nd Earl and Whig Prime Minister from 1830-34. It was he who the famous Earl Grey tea was named after, after a special taste was created by adding oil of bergemot to black tea. His administration was also responsible for passing the first Reform Act of 1832 which changed how the elections were done and meant that the middle classes could vote also.
Once Hugo and Emily were married they moved to Hoar Cross and lived in Old Hall which was a hunting lodge near to where they were later to build Hoar Cross Hall. Tragically, after moving into the Hall which took nine years to build, Hugo died from injuries sustained in a riding accident some fourteen months earlier which had left him bed-ridden. Upon her husband's death, Emily's brother, the Hon. Frederick George Lindley Wood, moved from Hickleton and came to live with her. He was a huge help with managing all the estates that Emily had inherited on Hugo's death. He also became her 'reader' as Emily had poor eyesight and couldn't read or write for more than a few minutes.
Frederick Meynell in 1905
In 1878 Frederick married Lady ...
By Viv Wilson in Life at The Hall, Growing Up In a Stately Home | 14th March 2021
THE WAR YEARS AND BEYOND: During the Second World War, life in country houses changed dramatically. It was no different at Hoar Cross. The flower borders on the main lawns were turfed over to reduce maintenance and vegetables were grown in areas formerly restricted to flowers. Evacuees from Birmingham came to stay for the duration of the war and they lived in the basement, as it was considered to be the safest place. I imagine that they must have been in the care of the servants as they were living amongst them but it must also have been quite exciting for them to move from a bombed out city to the relative safety of the countryside, although they must have missed their parents of course. Many children in those days never left the cities and towns where they lived and often didn’t know what a cow looked like in real life! To see all the lawns and woods at the Hall must have been incredible for them although I’m not sure if they were allowed to wander around the grounds.
Two of these youngsters returned to the Hall in the mid-1980s and spoke to my mum about the kindness they received from the family. They also told her about the ‘secret airfield’ hidden away in a copse behind the ha-ha wall (the wall separating the boundary of the grounds and the deer park). Apparently aircraft were kept here in readiness for action, it being a Satellite Landing Ground (SLG) site serving Fradley aerodrome, near Lichfield. The Hall was also offered as an Auxiliary Red Cross Hospital during the war but nothing came of this, probably owing to the lack of mains water. However, during the First World War, the Meynell home in London was offered to the War Office and the Red Cross and became a Military Hospital for officers, being used by Francis Meynell himself who was wounded in action.
The deer park with copse (right) which hid the plane
One feature at the Hall was the daily barometric readings; these had been taken since 1880 up until the Second World War, when...
By Viv Wilson in Life at The Hall, Growing Up In a Stately Home | 07th March 2021
GARDENERS’ WORLD AT HOAR CROSS: In it’s heyday Hoar Cross Hall had around 28 people employed to keep the 20 acres of grounds tidy and weed free. In Victorian England the most common of all male servants was the gardener. At Hoar Cross the head gardener had numerous under-gardeners known affectionately as ‘digging slaves’! They were responsible for producing fruit, vegetables and growing luxury items in and out of season, much of it under glass. Adjacent to the house was the carp pool and greenhouse area along with a palm house; next to these was a walled kitchen garden. This supplied the house with all its fruit, vegetables and herbs. The palm house produced palms and pot plants along with flowers for the house; these would be brought across to decorate the main rooms when an important function was on.
The ‘bothy’ house was in one corner of the kitchen garden. (A bothy is a simple dwelling on an estate, usually used for gardeners and other workmen). Here lived the ‘bothy boys’ who were young under-gardeners. Their job was simply to sweep the pathways all day and keep the leaves at bay!
There were two elderly chaps, Mr Knight and Mr Dukes, who were solely responsible for the south garden – however, their task was complicated by the fact that they couldn’t get on with one another! Grass was cut by a horse drawn mower, a task carried out by the chauffeur of all people! One of the family told us that back in the early days the head gardener was pushed around in a wheelchair when he was older, inspecting the lawns – apparently if he saw a weed amongst the blades of grass he would tell one of the gardeners to pluck it out straightaway!
Emily Meynell Ingram employed a Mr Rowley especially to carry out her plans of planting the yew hedges, of which there were many. At each side of the garden was a long walk bordered by yew hedges down to the ha-ha wall at the bottom. Across the bottom of the gardens were smaller square gardens (including the st...