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Speaker – Phil Burton ‘Ormesby Hall – Home of the Pennyman Family from 1599-1983

After Phil Burton retired in 2000, he worked for the National Trust as an Administrator. He gave a fascinating talk covering both the history of the building and of the family.

Although the Pennymans acquired Ormesby Hall in 1599, they had lived in or close to Stokesley since the 1400s. In 1599, there was only a single storey building on the site. This was developed over 50-60 years. There were two separate buildings from the mid 18th century until 1876 when a link between the two was built. For 120 years, food was prepared in the old building and carried outside into the mansion.

The 3rd Baronet married Mary Warton whose inheritances enabled him to build Lairgate Hall in Beverley. William Pennyman, the illegitimate son of the 3rd baronet built Normanby Hall and Marske Hall in the 1640s.The family also built Thornton Hall. This was demolished in the 1870s, but the gateway was moved to Ormesby and is still there today.

The main mansion was built in the Palladian style in about 1740. A Pennyman had again ‘married well’ and the wealth of Dorothy, the daughter of an Archbishop of Canterbury, financed the construction. The stables were built in the 1770s. These were used by the police from the mid 1970s until 2013. The Pennymans owned the lands north of Ormesby to the Tees together with Stainton, Thornton, Maltby, Ingleby Barwick, Marske and in Beverley.

The 6th Baronet, James the Wicked, loved horseracing. He built the racecourse at Beverley, but managed to lose all the family’s wealth and had to sell everything including the Ormesby Hall furniture to cover his debts. It was only for legal reasons that the house was not sold.   

His son the 7th Baronet, William, married into a wealthy family and he made substantial changes to the house including turning the dining room into the drawing room. He died in 1852 and the baronetcy then became extinct.

The estate then passed to his cousin James Worsley who took the surname Pennyman. The last Pennyman to live at the Hall was Jim, who was badly injured in WW1. He lived with shrapnel in his body until it was removed together with 2 ribs in the 1930s. His first wife died in childbirth and his second wife Ruth could not have children. The National Trust took over the Hall and gardens following his death in 1962, although Ruth lived there until she died in 1983. That was the end of this line of the Pennyman family. Ruth was very artistic and there are several photos of plays produced in the 1930s. She was also active politically and went to Spain during the civil war. She and her husband established Boosbeck Industries during the Depression to provide work for the unemployed in East Cleveland.

Since the National Trust took over the estate, they have spent heavily on restoration. A large number of volunteers has contributed to the success of this work. The gardens now resemble their appearance in Victorian times.

In reply to questions, Phil said that the paintwork is genuine period colours. In every National Trust property, paint is removed in one area to expose the original. At Ormesby Hall, the paint at the front of the house is lead based. Being a Grade 1 listed building, repainting must be done with this material. A club member highlighted the tapestry in Stokesley church which had been woven by Mrs. William Pennyman.


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