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'.