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Clarke Hall

A timber framed house known as Bradford Hall originally stood on the site of Clarke Hall, evidence of the original building can still be found under the floors of Clarke Hall and under the yard. Bradford Hall was built by Brian Bradford and remained property of his family until 1626 when it was sold to a wealthy Humphrey Wingfield. The building came into the hands of the Clarke family when Benjamin Clarke bought the Hall from John Wingfield in 1677, who was brother of Benjamin's wife Priscilla. The Hall was the childhood home of Priscilla and is believed to be the reason why the couple chose to buy it. Benjamin used some of Priscilla's dowry to demolish the old Hall and build on its site Clarke Hall. The stone in the building came from local quarries and the red brick came from Eastmoor. The house and gardens were surrounded by a moat that was fed from nearby springs up to the 19th Century, when the majority of it was filled in. Two sections that survived were cleaned out revealing several relics, one of which was a beehive quern. Benjamin and Priscilla lived at Clarke Hall until his death in 1688; she continued to run the Hall for her 12 year old son Benjamin.

The Hall and surrounding 50 acres of land were sold to the owners of Stanley Hall in 1788, Sir Michael Pilkington. He sold the Hall along with Stanley Hall in 1802 to Benjamin Heywood; his family sold the Estate to Mr William Shaw of Portobello in 1853 for £52, 500. In 1913 Clarke Hall and surrounding land was bought by the tenant Mr Haldane who did a lot of restoration work on the Hall. A lot of the work was removing later additions to the interior of the house and opening up windows that had been bricked up to avoid the window tax. He also cleared out the remaining parts of the moat. On the death of Mr Haldane in 1969 the hall was bought by the West Riding Education Authority who restored the building back to the home Benjamin and Priscilla would have recognised in the 1680s.

The entrance to the Hall faces north and has three projecting bays with gables surmounting them, but only two on the South side. The house is built of brick with stone plinth, Quoins, string course, mullioned windows and doorways, also Tudor fireplaces. The main Hall occupies the whole of the centre of the house, having a large open fireplace. Above the oak mantelshelf are plaster figures, probably once flanked the arms of the owner. Opening out from the Hall Is the withdrawing room, this room has a plaster ceiling depicting the Indian corn plant with its cobs partially shelled, the bay in this room has a date on the ceiling of 1680 and the walls are clad in oak panelling from the Stuart Period. The staircase in the Hall is an early oak newel staircase that leads to the Great Chamber which occupies the whole of the centre of the Hall on the first floor. In this room is a priests hiding place that was believed to have been used during the Civil War, when the room was discovered some years ago it contained two large flagons that dated from that period. In more recent years plans for the priest hole were found dating to the 1920s, so it would seem to be fake, probably added for character. The dining room is panelled in the Jacobean style as is the above bedroom; both these rooms have deep window recesses at each side of the fireplace, one of which is another hiding place. The glass in the leaded windows of the Hall is original; one of the windows has the name Robert Favell 1712 scratched into it. The design of the garden is based upon the instructions published in a book called "English Housewife's Garden" dated from 1679. Divided into several rectangular panels, each has its own individual features. On the right as you step from the Hall are the 15th Century foundations of Bradford Hall, beyond these are the lawns which are separated from the ornamental maze by a yew hedge. To the right of the maze is the knot garden and to the left is the mount. At the bottom of the gardens is part of the original moat; alongside is the summerhouse that was built with two columns taken from Wakefield Market Cross in 1866.

Photos from inside the Hall taken in the early 1970s

Photos of the outside of the Hall taken on a recent open day