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The lost English stately homes

Whilst today it seems unthinkable, from the late 1800s to the first half of the 20th century, there was a severe decline in the number of English stately homes, with around a third having disappeared and many estates reduced dramatically in size. Whether caused by social change, economic decline or capital taxation to pay for two World Wars, the loss or degradation of these beautiful buildings will be regretted by generations to come.

Glossop Hall

Glossop Hall in Derbyshire (pictured above) was a rambling Classical property once belonging to the Howard family, but with 56 textile mills in the area, it was an industrial estate. The black, smoky atmosphere and wet and gloomy climate in winter made the house seem unattractive, and on the death of the second Lord Howard of Glossop the estate was sold in 1925, as the third Lord Howard of Glossop had unhappy memories of the estate. After becoming a school, the house was knocked down in 1956, and bungalows now occupy the site.

Derwent Church Spire

Derwent was a historic village ‘drowned’ under the Ladybower Reservoir in Derbyshire, built between 1935 and 1943 to supplement the other two reservoirs in supplying the water needs of the East Midlands. All buildings in the village had been demolished by autumn 1943, along with the lovely Derwent Hall. The church spire (pictured left) was left intact as a memorial before being dynamited four years later.

Costessy Hall

Costessey Hall (pictured above) was a grandiose Gothic house in Norwich. The residents were the medieval Jerningham family, later the Lords Stafford. Over the years, the house benefitted from multiple improvements including a model farm and stables designed by architect Sir John Soane, a folly, towers and new Tudor-Gothic wings. Unfortunately, a succession of childless heirs followed and requisitioned in World War I, the hall was badly damaged, and demolished in 1925.

Lathom Hall

Lathom Hall (pictured above), seat of the Earls of Derby and then the Earls of Lathom, was one the finest Palladian houses in the county. Built between 1725-40, its deer park was designed by renowned landscape gardener Humphry Repton. Sadly, in 1925 the third Earl of Lathom had to sell the estate to pay off his debts, and after a brief period as a boys’ school it was demolished and now the site houses a 1950s office block.

Photographs from Felling the Ancient Oaks: How England lost its Great Country Estates, published by Aurum Press, Reproduced by permission of English Heritage (english-heritage.org.uk).