Riseborough Hall

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Riseborough Hall

(Research by Gill Chappell)


Riseborough Hall lies to the North of the parish of Normandy in the Wapentake of Ryedale – an ancient dwelling house in an ancient district.  The name Hall is derived from that of a “great hall” , being the main room of a royal palace, nobleman's castle or a large manor house in the Middle Ages, and in the country houses of the 16th and early 17th centuries.


The Hall sits proudly on the summit of a Linear Terminal Moraine (Thornton-Riseborough Hill) formed at the very end of the last Ice Age (approximately 20 000 years ago) by the deposition of material exposed after a glacier had retreated.   It commands a strategic position, rising approximately 200 feet above the Vale of Pickering with commanding 360 degree vistas across Ryedale, the North Yorkshire Moors, the Howardian Hills and the Yorkshire Wolds.


Its location is no happy accident, but rather the carefully calculated positioning by the ancients who first inhabited the hill and sought to protect themselves from both aggressors and the elements. It stands firm with its back against the bitter north easterly winds blowing directly across from the North Yorkshire Moors, and looks forward in a South Westerly direction taking advantage of the views and the warming rays of the Sun.  It lies just below the nearby trig point allowing cold winds to skim its roofs and carry on down Orchard Hill, with Indigenous trees painstakingly planted so as to cloak the Hall and shield it from the worst of the Icy blasts that can ensue.


The Hall is subject of much local folklore, and amid stories of Monastic and Crown connections and associations with Romans, the De-Bulmer/De- Wilton Families, Templar Knights and Crusaders, Cromwell and his MP Luke Robinson - a Lord Lieutenant of the County, the Rowntrees (the famous confectioner family) and a prominent Methodist Minister, the Hall has been quite rightly described by a Local Historian as a House of National Historic interest.


Local tales talk of priest holes and secret tunnels, and subterranean connections with other local country residences. The Hall can boast of resident ghosts, lay lines, and ancient Yews planted in Neolithic times to mark burial places when England was largely covered in forest, and has visible evidence of medieval strip farming within its grounds and close by.

It is an ancient manor granted at the time of the Norman invasion and is recorded in the [Doomsday Book]; it has ancient dressed and worked stone, carvings believed to be Roman in origin, a Tudor Fireplace; priory style stone arches, early deep wells and the remnants of a King John House.


The current owners have managed to research and establish 1000 years of ownership which amazingly lies with only 6 families (the current owners being the 6th), and are in the middle of a ten   year sympathetic restoration project. The house has been the subject of much remodelling over the years and throughout the ages, with each owner reflecting the contemporary construction and decorative styles of their day in the additions that they made. Notable owners/constructors of Riseborough Hall were Bertrum de Bulmer, Sir Arthur Robinson, Thomas Harrison, George Wynn Tweedy and Dr Thomas Frank, all putting their unique stamp on the property.


Samuel Pepys mentioned the Riseborough Hall owner and Cromwellian long Parliamentarian, Luke Robinson in his famous diary,  and there is even a Cavalier's Ballad immortalising their adversary  and describing him as a “Snarling Northern Tyke”.


Dr Thomas Frank (a much loved and fondly thought of local Doctor) undoubtedly saved the Hall from demolition and redevelopment in the early 1960s by purchasing the ruins and partially restoring the Victorian wing (approximately 30% of the house footprint) in the 1970s creating a family home once more.  The Hall had lain in ruins following a devastating fire on 16th October 1952 whilst in the ownership of Mr. & Mrs. George Tweedie which sadly raised the building to the ground, rendering it a burnt out shell and destroying much historic content.


Mr. and Mrs. Tweedie already in their twilight years took the Insurance money paid out for the fire damaged house and moved into a cottage that they owned in nearby Aislaby to live out their days.  For local children the ruins were  a mysterious and intriguing playground,  enhanced by  the tales of the “grey lady ghost“ and motor vehicles  inexplicably stalling out side the entrance gates.  Evacuee at the Hall


As the restoration progresses the Hall is relinquishing its history little by little and undoubtedly has many more secrets to reveal.


© Mark and Gill Chappell

Riseborough Hall



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