ELHAS Meeting Report - February 2011

Lotherton Hall

At our February meeting we were delighted to welcome Adam White, curator of Lotherton Hall. Adam has worked at Lotherton for 17 years, and has been on the staff of Leeds Museums and Galleries since 1983. He was brought up in Reading, but fortunately can claim to be half Yorkshire since his Mother was brought up at Bolton Abbey. Although he is based at Lotherton most of the time , he does also work at Temple Newsam House. Adam gave us an illustrated talk about the history of the Hall and the Gascoigne family, accompanied by some superb pictures of the magnificent artefacts and furniture in the hall.

The exact date of the building of the hall is not known but it was around 1815 and was originally the home of the Rapier family. It was bought by the prominent Gascoigne family, who formerly lived at Parlington Hall in 1825, and remained in their ownership until 1968 when it was reluctantly bought by Leeds City Council. At the time LCC felt that one stately home in the east of the city (Temple Newsam) was sufficient. However the hall has proved to be a well loved addition to the leisure and cultural life of the city. and we are lucky to have it.

The Gascoigne family held some 11,000 acres in Yorkshire, owning all or part of the surrounding villages of Saxton, Garforth, Sherburn and Barwick in Elmet. They were involved in coal mining, lime quarrying and agriculture all of which brought significant wealth. But they were a family well aware of their responsibilities to the wider community, for example building the magnificent almshouses in Aberford which closed in 1975. Lotherton was originally a village, and the family also built the chapel which is much older than the hall. As well as describing the history of the hall, Adam told us about the history of some members of the family. This included a poet and a famous scientist as well as the last inhabitant of the hall Sir Alvery Gascoigne, who was at one time ambassador to Japan. He explained that not all the contents of the hall we see today actually belonged there and that many objects have been brought from other stately homes and even Windsor castle. In fact he amused us with a tale about some beautiful Pugin designed chairs which now grace Lotherton Hall but originally formed part of a set of 48 from Windsor. Although 12 of them had been legitimately sold, two of them ending up at Lotherton, it appears the Royal estates would now like them back. Other furniture including a magnificent grand piano came from the home of Titus Salt. So far Lotherton have not had any requests for their return.

Adam's enthusiasm for his subject was apparent and many questions were asked at the end of the talk which was warmly received by his audience.

The next meeting on Monday 28th March will be an illustrated talk by Kat Baxter on ' Victorian Pioneers of Archaeology'.