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Burghwallis Hall Makeover

After a protracted delay the history of Burghwallis Hall moves into a new era.

Built in 1485 Burghwallis Hall was the new location for the Anne family who had built the new Hall around 250 metres north of the original location in Burghwallis Park, which had proven to be too damp. In 1840 the road passing ‘between’ the two halls was rerouted to pass further north on what is now Grange Lane.

After an extensive period of ownership by the Anne family and the deaths of the two heirs during the first and second world wars, the Anne family decided to sell the hall and estate in 1942. The hall was purchased by a religious order who in 1946 sold it to the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Good and Perpetual Succour, who took it over as a Rest Home for elderly ladies. In 1986 the hall itself was sold to the Dominion Sisters of South Africa who operated it as a convent. Later as the sisters grew older it became a retirement home for them. Later still the home was acquired by the Diocese of Sheffield and used as a nursing home.

In 2015 the nursing home was closed and the Hall put up for sale.

Step up Phil and Anna who in 2021 have purchased the Hall and grounds and aim to turn the Hall back to its original state as a private residence and a listed building of some grandeur. This last phase will see the building restored to the condition that the Anne family would recognise. But this is no mean feat!

Having vision, a strong will and immense stamina the building restoration is part of 3-5 year plan. It would match the TV programme “Restore the Chateau” with Phil and Anna as the stars.

Phil explained “The prior multiple use of the building has created a hotch pot of the weird and wonderful with inappropriate designs and building materials. Our plan is to rip out all the stud walling and ‘industrial junk’ to open up the rooms as they were about 200 years ago”.

The many fireplaces throughout will be revealed to allow some marvellous open fires in the winter. “Old buildings like the ventilation that an open fire provides” explained Phil.

Original fireplace

Anna has some great ideas for the renovated kitchen. At the moment it looks very industrial with an alarming amount of stainless steel panels, ideal for the kitchen of a nursing home but not so for a residence.

The Hall also contains the secret Priest Hole.  A priest hole is a hiding place for a priest built into many of the principal Catholic houses of England during the period when Catholics were persecuted by law in England. When Queen Elizabeth I came to the throne in 1558, there were several Catholic plots designed to remove her[1] and severe measures were taken against Catholic priests. Many great houses had a priest hole built so that the presence of a priest could be concealed when searches were made of the building. They were concealed in walls, under floors, behind wainscoting and other locations and were often successful in concealing their occupant.

Priest Hole in the Attic

The outside is being stripped of the overgrown ivy that camouflage the incredible architecture. The multiple gable ends that feature all around the hall will soon reappear.

Front elevation – showing the removal of the Ivy to reveal the original stonework

The lack of maintenance over the last decade is evident in the interior, exterior and gardens. Anna explained “The gutters had all been chocked with rubbish and overflowed back into the house causing extensive damage to the walls and ceilings”. Phil clambered up his ladders and removed half a ton of goo and grot and the gutters are behaving once again.

West Elevation showing the multiple gables of the house design

Phil is no stranger to renovation. He is currently working on a further Hall project for a third party and is unfazed by what lies ahead. He added “the cost is mostly associated with demolition and restoration rather than any rebuilding”. The extensions bolted onto the main building and added for the nursing home will be removed along with the strident brick built chapel that is completely out of character with the listed hall. “It will allow us to reinvigorate the original chapel which dates back to c. 1200 that was obscured by the new chapel”. The roof trusses will be used in a new workshop.

The grounds need an equal amount of attention as they have been allowed to become overgrown hiding many unique features. This work also involves the reinstallation of the magnificent gates emanating from the Paris Exhibition.

Interest in the Hall has taken an interesting twist. The fire brigade from Adwick are to stage a mock fire rescue from the building. The fire chief said the free use of the hall allowed by Phil and Anna will allow the brigade to train in the environment of a complex old building will be invaluable. So if you see a fire engine on the site on 20th and 21st July 2021 at around 14:15 this is what is happening.

Phil and Anna have kindly agreed to allow us to visit during the renovations so we can update the Burghwallis web site with the ongoing developments. 

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