Following the Norman Conquest, Tadcaster became the domain of the Percy Family. Their lands spread far into Northumberland, but Tadcaster was at the southern limit. In 1849, a member of the Percy family, George Francis Wyndham, 4th Earl of Egremont died, leaving his Tadcaster holdings to Colonel George Wyndham.
Enter, the Londesboroughs. Albert Denison Conyngham, 3rd son of Henry Conyngham, 1st Marquess Conyngham and Elizabeth Denison was born in 1805. He was knighted in 1829 and served as Member of Parliament for Canterbury between 1835 and 1841. In 1849, he inherited a large amount of money from his uncle and changed his name to Denison as required by this will.
One of his first purchases was an estate in East Yorkshire at Londesborough. This estate had belonged to the Duke of Devonshire until 1845, but had been bought by George Hudson, “the Railway King”. Due to Hudson’s financial problems it was sold in 1849, only four years after he bought it. In 1850 Albert Denison was raised to the peerage and took the title Baron Londesborough.
In 1851 he bought Grimston Park as his home. By way of wall decoration, he also purchased Edwin Landseer’s “Monarch of the Glen” for £840 which presumably was displayed at Grimston Park.
In 1855, he bought the Percy family holdings in and around Tadcaster from Colonel George Wyndham, as well as the title to the Lord of the Manor.
The Londesboroughs and Tadcaster
In 1840, Tadcaster had been badly hit by the loss of coaching trade as a result of the opening of the London to York railway. Up to this date, Tadcaster had thrived on coaching, providing horses, stabling, blacksmithing and wheelwrights, as well as food and accommodation for travellers. With the opening of the railways, the coaching trade collapsed and many inns and associated trades were very badly hit.
The White Horse was one of the coaching inns to close. The Angel Inn, next door, continued in business but in reduced form. One of the first acts of Lord Londesborough on becoming a land owner was to upgrade and reopen the White Horse as the Londesborough Hotel. Matthew Kidd, owner of the Angel Inn was put in charge, with the Angel Inn closing. The main purpose of the hotel was to accommodate Lord Londesborough’s friends on their visits to racing events.
Some notable buildings were constructed by Lord Londesborough including the Town Hall in High Street. By the time of this photo, the Town Hall had become the Cosy Cinema.
The 1st Lord Londesborough died in 1860 and was succeeded by his son.
Over the years, the Londesboroughs had added to their property around Tadcaster. However, the first sign of change came in 1862 when the Grange Estate in East Tadcaster was auctioned. This land was surrounded by Lord Londesborough’s property and would have been expected to be of interest to him. He did not purchase any of it. It seems he was developing his East Yorkshire estate and was building a new house for the estate there.
In 1871, he hosted the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII) at his house in Scarborough. Unfortunately the Prince caught Typhoid, probably as a result of plumbing defects at the house. The Prince was seriously ill but eventually recovered.
From 1855 to 1873, the first and second Lord Londesborough were the Lords of the Manor of Tadcaster and owned much of the property and surrounding land. In 1873, the second Lord Londesborough sold his holdings in the town.
The 1873 Sale
In 1872, Grimston Park was put up for sale, followed by all the other holdings in and around Tadcaster in 1873. Had the Prince’s misfortune led to this sale? Another story was that he had lost Tadcaster in a game of cards. He was known to gamble, but there is nothing to back up this story. It is probable that he had decided to develop his land at Londesborough in East Yorkshire.
Grimston Park was sold on 2nd July 1872 to John Fielden from Todmorden. The sale documents provide us with drawings of Grimston Park, plans of the house and details of the various parcels of land and their size.
Following the sale of Grimston, two sales of Tadcaster took place. The first sale of 2000 acres of land and the Mill in Tadcaster took place on 24th to 26th June 1873. The land sales included land around Ulleskelf as well as around Tadcaster.
The 46 page sale document provides us with a lot of interesting detail. There is a large coloured map showing all the lots. It gives the size of each plot, the tenant and the use to which the land was being put. The document also gives the annual value of tithes payable to the Vicar. In many cases, someone has recorded each bid, so we can see where the bidding started, finished and how the price rose as the bidding progressed. We also know who was the buyer.
The Flour Mill was included in the sale. The details of the mill runs to 5 pages. It tells us all about the steam engine and two water wheels including their size and construction. It then provides a detailed inventory for the mill down to such detail as: “Fire rake, clinker rake and fire poker, six spare grate bars, pair of movable Steps, out of engine- house on to boiler, Three Box Screwkeys, five single-end screwkeys, one do’blend screwkey, two rings for cylinder cover and. for lifting lid, hand-lifts for plates, and two ditto for slide- valve gland”. Anyone wishing to reconstruct the mill would have enough information in this document to make a good start!
About three weeks later, on 16th and 17th July 1873, the sale of Tadcaster properties followed. A detailed coloured map supplemented the 27 page sale document. The map showed all of the property for sale and often named the owners of adjacent land.
Examples of what we learn from the sale
An example showing the detail provided can be seen for Lot 116 which covers the buildings on Bridge Street from Golden Lion Yard to Allen’s ironmongers.
It tells us who occupies each property, what it is and is used for, and the area. The area is shown in acres, roods and perches. There are 40 perches in a rood and 4 roods in an acre.
Using the map and details, occupiers, and use of the properties can be gleaned. We know that John Allen bought this Lot for £1250. We do not know whether he then sold the other properties to their occupiers or acted as landlord.
From Lot 114, we learn a lot of information about the Londesborough Hotel. We learn that it was the home to a Savings Bank, and Reading Room and the Tadcaster Band Music Room. The Londesborough Hotel was sold to John Smith, the brewer for £2540.
The site where John Smith was to build his brewery was not sold to him but to three other people, two of whom were solicitors. Three other lots that were later to become part of the brewery were withdrawn as failing to reach their reserve price. Just how soon after the sale the land was bought for the brewery remains unclear.
The documentation tells us so much about the town. Here it shows what was to be seen in East Tadcaster.
The title of Lord of the Manor went to Colonel Fairfax.
The sale was to make a considerable difference to Tadcaster. It enabled John Smith’s to build a new brewery, ·more businesses owned their own property, ·more farms were privately owned, ·the Mill was privately owned, ·Grimston Park had new owners, ·there was a new Lord of the Manor, more people were on the electoral register, there were more opportunities to develop businesses, and most importantly, there was more information about Tadcaster for future researchers of local history