History of Austwick Hall


House tours  and garden visits are available for groups by prior arrangement (minimum 8 people)

The house was originally built as a pele tower and is said to date from 1180. Little is known of its early history and all that remains of the tower are the six foot thick walls between the entrance hall and the drawing room.

In 1551 the manor, along with eleven neighbouring manors, was sold by the Duke of Suffolk to Sir John Yorke for £1100. John Yorke had started his career as a wool merchant and went onto hold various positions within the royal mint at the Tower of London. He was later appointed as master of the mint at Southwark, knighted by Edward VI and was also Sherrif of London. On the succession of Mary he was briefly imprisoned in the Tower of London but was soon pardoned and released. Sir John Yorke remained an alderman of the City of London and was elected member of parliament for Boroughbridge.

Austwick Hall remained in the Yorke family for another two generations before being sold to John Ingleby. The Yorkes were recuscants and, under Elizabeth I, had to pay a series of fines for practising their catholic faith. The Hall was sold, along with other properties, to pay these fines. Whilst there is no priestís hole it is said that a secret passage runs from behind the fireplace in the entrance hall up into the woods.

Parish records show that the Ingleby family lived at the Hall from the late 16th to the early 19th century. It is probable that the original house was much extended and altered during the early years of their ownership. T

In the early 19th century the house was bought by William King who was responsible for the next phase of development. The mullion windows were blocked up and replaced by larger Georgian sash windows. The roof was raised and the central staircase was installed. In 1829 Austwick Hall was sold, possibly due to the bankruptcy of William King, and passed into the ownership of the Clapham family.

Richard Clapham (1791 - 1856) was a keen naturalist and was responsible for planting the woodland in 1846/7. He also commissioned the impressive sun dial on the top lawn. His son, Thomas Richard Clapham (1837 - 1910), was an amateur astronomer and built an observatory in the garden, sadly now demolished. He also built the rear wing of the house in 1893. His eldest son, another Richard Clapham (1878 - 1954) was a prolific author of books on hunting, fishing and shooting.

In 20th century the Hall has had a chequered history with land being sold off and the house being used briefly as a nursing home and also as a home for the elderly. It is claimed that Winston Churchill stayed at the house whilst on a painting holiday in the area.