History of Sewerby Hall
- Links :
- The Story of Sewerby
- The de Sywardby Family
- The Carleill Family
- The Greame Family
- The Greames and the Re-Building of the House
In old writings the name Sewerby is found variously spelt - as Syuuardeby, Sywardby, Sowerbye, Sewardbie, and so on.There is little doubt the name is of Danish origin and means Syward's farmstead. Prior to the Norman Conquest, Sewerby was largely the property of two landowners, Carle and Torchil.
Sewerby then passed to Robert, Count of Mortain in Normandy and Earl of Cornwall, half brother to William the Conqueror himself. In 1088 Count Robert was banished and his estates, including Sewerby, were confiscated. There is no record of the fate of Robert's undertenant, Richard de Surdeval, though it is possible his family survived as the de Sywardbys, taking the name of the village.
The first of this family we know by name is Osbert, active in the 1170s and 80s, when he is named as a witness to a deed confirming donations to the Priory at Bridlington, founded in 1113. Osbert himself made gifts of land to the Priory as did many of his descendants.
Quickly growing in importance in the locality, the de Sywardbys appear soon to have owned the greater part of Sewerby and much of Marton. Their position in the neighbourhood was strengthened by marriage ties with the de Martons and de Bucktons, and during the course of the 14th Century three generations of de Sywardbys were knighted. Records offer fleeting glimpses of life down the centuries at Sewerby Hall.
There is evidence that William de Sywardby built a chapel in the grounds of the manor house in or around 1414, and a suggestion that he may have tried to avoid church taxes by claiming that the building was used to dry herring. His son and heir’s widow Elizabeth bequeathed the residue of her estate to maintain a chaplain at Sewerby, so a small chapel must have been there around that time.
The last of the de Sywardbys was an heiress, Margaret, who married Sir Geoffrey Pigott of Clotherholme, near Ripon. Margaret died in 1485, and was succeeded by her son Sir Ranulf Pigott. But the Pigotts were not destined to remain long at Sewerby. Ranulf's son Thomas died without a male heir and the estates of Sewerby and Clotherholme went to his daughter Elizabeth.
This well-endowed lady married three times, her last husband being Sir Charles Brandon - a bastard son of the Duke of Suffolk, brother-in-law to Henry VIII. The couple sold Sewerby in 1545 and so the estate finally passed out of the hands of the descendants of Osbert de Sywardby after nearly 400 years.
Over the next two decades Sewerby changed hands on no fewer than six occasions. But then in 1566 the estate came into the ownership of another family which was to be associated with the name of Sewerby for many years.
The new owner was John Carleill or Carlyll, gentleman, of Bootham, York. At that time the property was probably showing signs of long years of neglect, and John and his wife Mary are thought to have invested heavily in improvements.
John and Mary died about 12 years after settling at Sewerby and like the de Sywardbys were buried at Bridlington. Their son Tristram inherited at the age of "fifty and upwards", and was almost 90 when he died in 1618.
The next Carleill was Randolph or Randle, who succeeded at the age of 30. It was during his time as squire that Henrietta Maria, Queen of Charles I, landed at Bridlington after a voyage to Holland to raise money on the Crown Jewels - money needed for the purchase of arms. There is no record of the Carleill's views on the Civil War, though many of their neighbours paid court to Henrietta during her two-week stay at nearby Boynton Hall.
Randle died in 1659 and Sewerby came to his eldest son Robert, who was to enjoy his inheritance for 26 years. The next and last Carleill squire of Sewerby was Robert's son Henry. Henry died in 1701 and his widow was to return to her family home in the West Riding. A young heir was alive - another Henry - but he was never to return as squire.
John Greame and his son Robert seem to have made their fortune by acting as agents for Lady Boococke, a considerable landowner in Bridlington. Robert became a landowner in his own right with the purchase of a manor in Holderness in 1694.
Robert's son, another John Greame, was to be the first of his family to live at Sewerby Hall.
In 1693 John married the daughter of Thomas Kitchingman, merchant of Leeds, but she died soon after the marriage. Six years later John married a second time, his new wife, Mary Taylor of Towthorpe, being another heiress.
In 1713 John Greame's bay horse champion won Queen Anne's Gold Cup at the races at York. It was a sign that the family were now wealthy and quickly ascending the social ladder. The death of Robert Greame in 1708 certainly left John a rich man, and one who felt the need for a house which reflected his new importance. He first leased, then purchased the Sewerby estate from Elizabeth, widow of Henry Carleill, and the young Carleill heir.
It is interesting to note that another Carleill son, William, was to remain in Bridlington and practice as a surgeon, and indeed in 1721 was to marry John Greame's eldest daughter. But all the signs are that the Carleills were coming down in the world just as the Greames were transforming themselves into gentry.
No representation survives of Sewerby Hall as it looked when John Greame acquired the estate, but it was almost entirely rebuilt between 1714 and 1720. Traces remain of the ancient core of the house, but John's rebuilding forms the nucleus of the present mansion which remains largely intact.
The richly textured walls of red hand-made bricks were probably the work of local men and it seems probable that the mason responsible for the handsome stone dressings had worked in the area around Castle Howard.
The south front of the house survives little altered. It is one of a recognisable group of upstanding, box-like houses - impressive, dignified and having in common a marked vertical accent. Other houses with this characteristic are Westgate House in Bridlington, built in 1714 and now known as the Avenue Hospital, Thorpe Hall at Rudston, and, handsomest of all, Buckton Hall near Bempton, begun in 1744.
The interior fittings are lavish and point to the influence of contemporary buildings in York where similar features can be seen. All the main rooms are richly wainscotted, their slender proportions accentuated by fluted Corinthian or Doric pilasters and by the high windows.
Perhaps the most impressive is the finely proportioned Oak Room on the right of the entrance hall.
One of Sewerby's finest features is the staircase, a daringly skilful piece of cantilevered construction in oak with three twisted balusters to each step.
John Greame died in 1746 at the age of 83 - longevity was a blessing of the Greames.
His heir was another John who married in 1756 Alicia Maria or "Almary" Spencer, of Cannon Hall, near Barnsley. This Mrs Greame kept up a close correspondence with her relations in the West Riding and so we have many fascinating details of life at Sewerby at this time, in particular from letters to her rich bachelor brother John Spencer at Cannon Hall.
John Greame II died in 1798 at the great age of 98. His widow survived for many years, recovering from brain fever in 1807 and shortly afterwards resuming her correspondence with all faculties unimpaired.
John had left her very comfortably off with the use of house, lands, coach, up to eight horses, and the house contents. As the couple were childless the eventual heir was to be a nephew, a third John Greame, who at 23 married an heiress, Sarah Yarburgh of Heslington.
The Yarburghs were an old and well-connected family. Sarah's uncle by marriage was the great dramatist and architect Sir John Vanbrugh, designer of Castle Howard and Blenheim Palace. But Sarah died young and left her husband with two young children. Two years later John married again, his new partner Anne Broadley being a relation of the Carleills.
The family moved into Sewerby Hall with Aunt Almary, and many alterations were carried out before John inherited the property on the old lady's death in 1812. A two-storey, bow-fronted wing was added to either extremity of the original house.
The west wing was devoted to a fine servants' hall, housekeepers room and kitchen - all on the ground floor - and over them two bedrooms and a dressing room.
The east wing consisted of a ground floor drawing room with finely proportioned bedroom and dressing room above.
The architect and builder employed on the work may have been John Matson, a Bridlington man whose most famous work is Flamborough Lighthouse, built without scaffolding in 1805.
At the time of his death in 1841 John III was 81. Anne Greame died the same year.
The new squire was Yarburgh Greame, John's son by his first wife. On inheriting his mother's estates at Heslington he took Yarburgh as his surname also, so it was the resoundingly-named Yarburgh Yarburgh who completed the transformation of Sewerby into a mansion of considerable size - Sewerby Hall as we see it today - and who was responsible for the gardens and woodlands in more or less their present form.
Yarburgh Yarburgh's 15 years as squire saw an almost uninterrupted programme of construction and improvements. His additions included the gatehouse with its late Greek Revival details and the balustrading in front of the house. The fine formal gardens were laid out over the swelling contours of chalk hillside behind the mansion.
The great arucaria or monkey-puzzle trees in the formal garden were planted around this time and must be among the oldest in England. The splendid archway leading into the stable yard is another Yarburgh addition, as is the little Italianate turret to the south front of the stables, built in 1847 and now known as the Clock Tower Tea Rooms.
Other works by Mr Yarburgh included raising his fathers wings another storey to make them level with the roof of his great grandfather's house.
In the process the stone cornice and centre pediment with its unexpected little chimney were completely reconstructed. He also completed the Church of St John the Evangelist and a school building - later a private dwelling - which are found on the edge of the park.
The church and school were designed by Sir Gilbert Scott, later famous for the Albert Memorial and St Pancras Hotel in London.
Yarburgh Yarburgh died at the age of 70 in 1876. The estate went to his sister Alicia Maria, wife of George Lloyd of Stockton Hall, York, for life, and then to her younger son, the Rev Yarburgh Gamaliel Lloyd, then a vicar in Lincolnshire.
On coming into his inheritance he changed his name to Lloyd-Greame and his son, Colonel Yarburgh George Lloyd-Greame, inherited in 1890.
These gentlemen lived to the ages of 76 and 88 respectively. The house was occupied from 1928 by the Colonel's elder son, another Yarburgh Lloyd-Greame, who in 1934 sold the house and part of the estate to Bridlington Corporation.