GRAND DESIGNS TOPPLED
|Thornbridge has survived into
the 21st century
They stood firm throughout the
ages, home to generations, but in the last century many mansions across
the region have been brought to the ground - not by war, or storms
- but by bulldozer. Inside Out finds out more.
During the last century,
many grand mansions were demolished across the region because the upkeep
was just too much for families who lived in them.
High taxation, divorce within inheriting families, individual
conflicts and general incompetence all played a part in the break-up and
break-down of these great estates.
Inside Out joins local historians Maxwell Craven and Mick Stanley who
have spent the last 25 years investigating the stories behind these lost
Gone in the blink of an eye
|The fall of the mansions|
Below are the number of mansions pulled down in
the East Midlands between the early 20s and the late 1960s:
- Derbyshire 53
- Leicestershire 28
- Lincolnshire 50
- Nottinghamshire 20
During the last hundred years, over a thousand country
homes were burnt down and blown up right across England.
Much of the nation's heritage disappeared and the East
Midlands lost some of its finest stately homes.
"For hundreds of years country houses underpinned,
with its estate, a sustainable rural community," explains Maxwell.
"Nobody thought it would end."
The buildings sacrificed ranged from the Rococo magnificence
of Nottinghamshire's Nuthall Temple to the Baroque splendour of Derbyshire's
History for sale
When Clumber stately home in Nottinghamshire was demolished
in 1938, the local newspaper loyally declared the decision was necessitated
by heavy taxation.
However if truth be known, for generations the property's
owners had been hopeless financial managers.
|Mick and Maxwell
go on the trail of the lost mansions|
Living on such a grand scale was no longer affordable
or in indeed the fashion.
It was not just the building that was to be lost forever,
but its contents too.
"It was not just demolished, but incredible sales
of all the amazing contents," describes Susanna Smith of the National
"Rooms stuffed full of great masterpieces, French
furniture and amazing statuary."
Clumber was one of the great treasure houses of the age.
Sadly with little export protection laws much of its contents are now
thought to be in America.
But all is not lost. Inside Out tracks down many of the
Hall's fixtures and fittings to a house in Derbyshire.
Second hand goods
Thornbridge Hall in Derbyshire is now home to a vast
array of statues, facades and fountains originally belonging to Clumber.
Hall benefited from Clumber's downfall|
Henry Boot Construction were contracted to demolish Clumber
after a fire in 1938. It was Charles Boot that was responsible for bringing
the many items to Thornbridge, although the bulk were lost to private
buyers through auction.
"Looking at the pictures we have of Clumber there
was a huge amount of things," describes Jim Harrison of Thornbridge
Hall. "Where it all ended up is anyone's guess."
Although Thornbridge Hall benefited from the fall of
Clumber, many other grand country houses suffered very bleak prospects.
Country estates and the way they were run had to be changed
drastically if they were to be spared demolition.
Facing the future
Sir Richard FitzHerbert of Tissington Hall is living
proof that adaptability is the key if stately homes are to beat the bulldozers.
lion from Thornbridge Hall is safe from the bulldozers|
The FitzHerberts have held the land at Tissington for
nearly 600 years. And with ingenuity and resourcefulness, the house can
look forward to another 600.
"We've had to look at a different source of income
in order to maintain the balance," explains Sir Richard.
"In the last 15 years we've turned the ratio from
70:30 agricultural to business income around the other way.
"Now 30% of our income is agricultural, the other
70% is tourism."
There's no doubt that the last hundred years saw a crisis
for Britain's stately homes. But although many estates were lost forever,
thankfully far more survived.
With the presence of the National Trust and resourceful
estate owners such as Sir Richard, the region's stately homes can hopefully
look forward to a brighter and more secure future, providing generations
of Britain's a small glimpse into a world that once was.