Monday, 10 October 2011

WE WON!!!!!!!!!

 The Gatehouse at Markenfield was nominated for two awards at the recent Ripon Civic Society awards. It received the Craftsman's Shield - awarded to Mick Burniston - for the joinery work to the staircase and was Highly Commended in the Best Restoration award.

Those of you who have been visiting Markenfield for a while will know just what a transformation has taken place within the Gatehouse in the past two years - from a dark, dank lobby with a ladder rising to a hole in the floor above to a bright new staircase than can truly be called a work of art!

The work has also created a much-needed loo that can be used by the visiting public, a place for meetings to take place... and a much, much more pleasant working environment for yours truly!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Mop-up Mondays and all things Swan-like

It's been a busy week so far at the Hall, with the sole Cygnet emerging out of the nest and on to the moat just in time for the Hall's very first Mop-up Monday.

The Swans - Sam and Cinders - thankfully made their nest somewhere quite sensible this year. In past years eggs have been found in the Farm Buildings, in the doorway to the Gatehouse and even in the middle of a field - it was all starting to get a bit "Jemima Puddle Duck". So it was to our great relief when they decided to nest on the side of the moat, but well away from passing tractors and members of the general public (who's interested stares are not always appreciated by the over-protective Sam). A number of eggs were laid over a number of days, but the sole-Cygnet is all that emerged. Hmmm... Solo the Swan - it has a ring to it!

Mop-up Mondays were first dreamed up to try and offer a way of visiting the Hall out of season. There were a few constraints - we needed to know how many were going to turn up so that we could control parking, and when they were going to arrive; so we hit on the idea of a pre-bookable guided tour. We were a bit worried at first about covering costs, but once we hit the 34 mark we realised that we'd had a potentially very good  idea and that tickets were in demand. So much in demand that we have had to lay on another Mop-up day on Monday 7 November and we've already sold 3 tickets!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Holiday Blues

What has happened to the weather? The summer holidays may well be over, but summer too? Surely not!

The photograph (right) was taken on the August Bank Holiday Monday, and that could well have been the last time that the sun was seen here at the Hall.

Thankfully it has no impacted opening activities as a massive "spring clean" has been underway for the past few weeks and the Hall has been closed to groups. We did however play host to two delightful musicians yesterday as part of the Ripon International Festival. The weather was largely kind to those making their way across the Courtyard - but not so kind to the cars parked in the paddock that will be taking a little bit of Markenfield away with them in the form of mud!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

One swan a-nesting

Times when the swans head for dry land are always exciting times at the Hall, and this time is no exception. The female has chosen a small patch of land at the west side of the moat - out of the way of vehicles and people - to make a nest and lay her eggs - and now she is sitting on the nest and its precious contents.

The swans produced two successful broods back in 2009 but despite their best efforts they have been unsuccessful ever since. There was a time at the beginning of the year when we were finding eggs all over the place - in fields, in farm buildings and even in the doorway to the Gatehouse. However, a much more sensible place has now been found and i's simply a case of "watch this space"!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Game, Set, Match Markenfield

You can never quite tell what the second fortnight of opening will bring at Markenfield as it traditionally clashes with Wimbledon - and today it clashed with the Andy Murray match so we have particularly low expectations.

We had a small group of Watercolour painters painting the Courtyard - the same group that have created the masterpieces currently on display in the Great Hall

They were quite happily painting away in the glorious sunshine when...

217 visitors descended on them!!!

It was a truly record-breaking day that none of the Stewards on duty will ever forget!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Armed Forces Day

Poppies along the drive
Whilst Markenfield is not doing anything specifically to mark Armed Forces Day, a number of blood-red poppies have appeared in the fields along the drive in recent days; maybe a tribute from the Hall to the Farm workers who were uprooted from the peaceful lands here and transported to France to fight in the two World Wars - a world away from quiet rural North Yorkshire.

Christopher Scott Kemp is just one example of such a young man - a "Farm Servant" he was enlisted in to the West Yorkshire Regiment and killed shortly after at the Third Battle of Ypres on 20 September 1917. The Regiment's diary holds a description of that fateful day and the moment that Kemp and his Comrades went over the top.

Those that have visited Markenfield will know that one wall of the Undercroft is dominated by a large framed Estate Map. This map has pencilled upon it some of the unofficial field names that go to make up the Hall, Estate and Parish's 600 acres. They include the One Acre Paddock (where visitors now park during Open Days), the Thistley Field and The Trenches. The Trenches may seem a strange name for a farm field, but it was in this field (and two others nearby) that soldiers from Ripon came to practice the art of digging trenches. 

The photograph to the right was sent to us here at the Hall by a local gentleman who believed that it illustrates soldiers from Ripon on Markenfield land after just such an exercise.

Further information on Armed Forces Day can be found here:

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Planned to Perfection

Friday saw a wedding at the Hall - and we are happy to report that a good time was had be all, despite Mother Nature's best attempts to put a dampener on proceedings!

We have never had a Wedding Planner in charge of a wedding at the Hall, so it was with some trepidation that we launched in to the setting up of things on Thursday morning...

Needless to say that our fears were unfounded. Carol from Beau Belles was fantastic - a lovely person who had only her Bride's best interests heart. 

The day ran smoothly and without a hitch. Carol and yours truly sat at the back of the Ceremony and both shed a tear as the vows were said. The Civil Ceremony was followed by an Anglican Service of Dedication in the Chapel taken by Canon Keith Punshon.

Now for a spot of "product placement"! We are very proud to have links with some of the area's finest services and suppliers when it comes to weddings. 

The flowers (pictured left) were supplied by Lance at Caine Florists in Harrogate and the official photographs were taken by Nicola Martindale in Ripon. Both did our happy couple proud.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Putting the Great back in to Great Hall

The Great Hall of a mediaeval manor house would have been a splendid sight - built and adorned to impress visiting noble men and dignitaries alike. Pigmentation can still be seen on the walls at Markenfield indicating that the walls would have been a wonderful rich red colour, and at one point they were even panelled in oak (those oak panels now grace the walls of the Bishop's Palace in Ripon).

But not so the Great Hall at Markenfield. 

After the Rising of the North in 1569, the house and its land was confiscated from the de Markenfield family for high treason and given to Thomas Edgerton - the first in a long line of absentee landlords - and so began a period in the Hall's history that saw it fall in to a state of disrepair. Inhabited by a series of tenant farmers, it was recorded in 1855 as being used as a grain store along with the neighbouring Chapel. 

Fletcher Norton - later to become the first Lord Grantley - effectively saved the house in 1761 as it was he who re-roofed the Great Hall making it water tight and safe from the elements - every surveyor and builder knows just how quickly a house deteriorates once the weather gets in. 

The 1980s restoration under the direction of 7th Lord Grantley left the Great Hall largely untouched, and the image at the top of the page shows the Great Hall some time in the 1990s.

The restoration of the Great Hall began in the winter of 2003-4 with the re-instatement of the massive keystone fireplace, followed by the installation of the giant oak book-stacks the following winter.

Further details of the restoration can be found here CLICK in an article for the Heritage Conservation magazine.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

That's the way to do it!

Barrowford Over 50s
Parking at Markenfield is always a thorny issue - but it is perfectly possible with a bit of common sense and some expert manoeuvring, as this coach from Lancashire shows.

One of the first questions we are always asked when it comes to groups (and sometimes even weddings) is "will a coach fit up the drive?". The answer is yes, it will. The Farm has a lot of big machinery that makes its way up and down the drive each day, added to that the number of articulated lorries that visit either dropping off or picking up making the drive quite a busy place at times. They never cause a problem -  it just goes to show that large vehicles will - and do - fit.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

This green and pleasant land...

Never let it be said that Yorkshire folk are not a hardly lot - the clouds are dark in the sky and heavy rain showers are forecast, yet we still have a paddock full of cars and numerous people taking in the spectacular views around the Moat Walk. The walk starts in the main car park and follows the Moat around all four sides of the house. The north side is particularly fascinating as it shows numerous mysterious features such as blocked windows and doors - the origins of which are lost in the mists of time.

The walk offers views of the Hall that are not normally seen by visitors:

The north side of the farm buildings

The west range of the house and orchard beyond
 The Moat Walk is open whilst the House is open to the public - from now until Saturday 14 May and again from 19 June to 2 July 2pm to 5pm daily (last entry to the house is 4:30pm). So why not come along and see if you can spot the two black swans as they paddle majestically around...

Thursday, 28 April 2011

A Golden Welcome Awaits...

Well, summer finally seems to have arrived in our tiny slice of Yorkshire. The cows are in the fields and the golden (some may say garish...) yellow that covers a lot of the countryside at this time of year has seemingly surround the Hall leaving it looking as though it has an outer moat of green fields! There are duckings on the moat, hares racing around the fields and - most importantly - the sun is shining!

 Markenfield throws open its doors to the public on Sunday, so we have been busily preparing for the (hopefully) hundreds of people that are simply waiting to flock through our door.

The Hall will be open from Sunday 1st to Saturday 14th May from 2pm to 5pm each day. We hope we'll see you soon!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Master of all he surveys

One of the first Projects undertaken by The Friends came to fruition last year with the completion of the restoration of Beechey’s portrait of Fletcher Norton, First Baron Grantley of Markenfield, and its frame. The portrait has hung in the Dining Room at the Hall for many years, underneath centuries of dust, dirt and wood-smoke.  The restoration work was funded by The Leche Trust, a Trust that works to help conserve historic houses and their contents.  The funding process was assisted by the Heritage Conservation Trust, a charity associated with the Historic Houses Association, that supports the restoration of works of art that are of historic or artistic importance in historic houses.  The portrait was cleaned and restored by Harrogate-based David Everingham, whilst the frame was repaired and restored by Lincolnshire-based Paula Reeve.  

As a condition of the funding, the portrait has to be on display to the public. Last year, he sat on a purpose-made easel in the fireplace of the Great Hall - but it was always thought that he was a bit precarious, and he really got in the way during weddings! So, the decision was taken to raise him up and pop him in to the blocked-up window in the west wall of the Great Hall. From there he can look out over the Great Hall, which must have changed beyond all recognition to him; a solid roof, clean damp-free walls and now a much-loved and used family room. He also gets to look out across the Hall in general - a building that has not changed at all in the subsequent seven generations, and which he would recognise in an instance.


Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A Host of Golden Wedding Celebrations!

The north-east corner of the moat
Well, the weekend dawned bright and sunny - the host of golden daffodils that line both the drive and the moat were in full bloom and all was set for a beautiful - and busy - weekend.

We have a number of highly dedicated Volunteer Stewards that help to run the Hall when it is open to the general public, and two of those Volunteers were celebrating their Golden Wedding Anniversary with a lunch at the Hall on Saturday. 

We had set everything up on the Friday and now we just had to await the arrival of the happy couple and their family. 

The swans decided to put on a display just as they arrived - performing a lovely little courtship dance of neck-weaving and bobbing - which added to the occasion.

There is evidence of nest building along the north-side of the moat, so there may well be the patter of tiny webbed feet during the Hall's open days this year. Watch this space for further information.

The Great Hall looked beautiful set out for the anniversary lunch, and we're happy to report that a good time was had by all!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Markenfield joins the C21st...

Welcome to the very first Markenfield Hall blog... the Hall is currently being dragged kicking and screaming in to the C21st - it has a Facebook page, a Twitter account and now its very own blog!

Here you will find behind the scenes news, views and even the odd history lesson as and when the need arises! 2010 was a landmark year in the Hall's history, being the 700th anniversary of the Licence to Crenellate. We welcomed hundreds of visitors through the door and look forward to doing the same this year when the Hall opens its doors for the first time on Sunday 1 May.

We also have a wide variety of events coming up courtesy of The Friends of Markenfield, including a summer musical event, talks and walks. Further information can be found on the Hall's website or from the Administrator at or on 01765 692303

We very much look forward to welcoming you to our little slice of history...