Like North Yorkshire, the south and west of the county has much to offer in the way of historic homes to visit.
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Brodsworth Hall was built in the Victorian era and has survived almost untouched. Peter Thellusson, a Swiss native, purchased the estate in the 1760s. He died in 1797 leaving his large fortune and the estate in trust to be later inherited by a great grandson, who demolished the original 18th century building and built Brodsworth in 1861. The building, currently in care of English Heritage, is decorated in the opulent Italian style. The entrance hall, staircase, painted walls, crimson carpets, Minton tiles, and white marble sculpture are impressive. The drawing room sparkles with crystal chandeliers reflected in mirrors. A library, 15 acres of garden and lawns, and a summerhouse add to the attractions of the ‘frozen-in-time’ home.
The Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth is a Georgian parsonage that was home to the famous literary sisters Anne, Charlotte, and Emily and their family from 1820. It is now a museum and furnished with some of the Bronte’s furniture and memorabilia. For further details see our article Bronte Parsonage Museum
Fairfax House, in the city of York is a small 18th century Georgian townhouse, redecorated by John Carr for Lord Fairfax. He and his daughter, whose life he had ruined, lived in the house until his death. It fell into hard times, being vandalized for a number of uses over the years. Fortunately most of it survived and was restored by the York Civic Trust. Now furnished with the Noel Terry collection of Georgian furniture and clocks, it typifies the townhouse of the times.
Harewood House is the former home of Princess Mary and is now the home of Queen Elizabeth II’s cousin. It was built by Edwin Lascelles in the mid 18th century and incorporates the work of Robert Adam, John Carr, Thomas Chippendale and ‘Capability’ Brown. Elaborate plasterwork ceilings, chimneypieces, rugs, a large collection of Chippendale furniture, portraits, and family photos set of the magnificent rooms. The 76 foot long gallery displays work by art masters. A below stairs exhibit shows off an old kitchen’s copperware collection. The 1000 acres of parkland with the terraced gardens, roses, walled gardens, and a lake reflect the work of Brown. The south terrace was not designed by him but by Sir Charles Barry. He also added the third storey.
Nostell Priory, owned by National Trust, is an 18th century house built to a design by Italian architect Andreo Palladio. When about half finished, Robert Adam was hired to complete state room interiors. A hundred pieces of Thomas Chippendale’s work are on display and include a six-foot high dollhouse. The state bedroom contains a well-preserved collection of his furniture. Paintings and tapestries add to the décor.
Shibden Hall is a 15th century, half-timbered manor house with early 19th century extensions. Its 1826 owner, Anne Lister, made extensive fake gothic renovations. It sits in a 90 acre landscaped park. Inside is a collection of oak furniture and artefacts. The 17th century tithe barn is home to agricultural and craft exhibitions. Also in the grounds are a fake Norman tower, a dairy, a forge, and a brewhouse, among other buildings.
Wilberforce House is a brick 17th century merchant house, sited on the old high street of the city of Hull. Rococo plasterwork and a family crest were added in 1760. Its most famous resident was William Wilberforce, spokesman against the slave trade and instigator of its abolition. The house is now a museum about the slave trade.