PLUMPTON AND SPOFFORTH
A variety of interests was offered to a group of Field Society members in September 2015. The visit was led by Les Bloom, who had arranged a guide for Plumpton Hall. We absorbed history, geology, architecture, engineering, and botany on a day at Plumpton and Spofforth.
From the West Lodge of Plumpton Hall a route leads through dramatic Plumton and Follifoot Gritstone rocks and ancient woodland to a lake and dam on the manor originally granted to William de Percy after the Conquest. From 1168 AD the estate was held by Nigel de Plumpton and his successors until 1760 when it was acquired by Daniel Lascelles (later of Goldsborough Hall).
Daniel Lascelles developed the lake from an existing fishpond, which was enlarged by means of a dam with arched and rusticated masonry, and surrounded by pleasure grounds of trees and shrubs which nurtured many species of interesting plants.
Daniel Lascelles demolished many of the old buildings including the manor house. Plumpton Hall exists as an integration with the expansive stable block, designed for Daniel Lascelles in 1760 by the renowned John Carr of York. Lascelles began building a new mansion but this was demolished when he chose instead to buy Goldsborough Hall from the Byerley family.
The Parish Church of All Saints at Spofforth is of Norman origins but the body of the church is neo-Norman, rebuilt in 1854-5. The south doorway displays Norman chevron and less usual beakhead carving, the beakheads biting into roll-moulding. Grotesque carvings are usually of the 12th century and may represent the sin and vice in the world, (Camille). In the church is a stone carving of the Percy family Coat of Arms, and wall tablets to the Middleton family of Stockeld Park (long-time owners of the Ilkley Moor area and Middelton Lodge.) The effigy of a knight in a recess is thought to be Sir Robert de Plumpton III (1323 AD).
The church’s 15th century belltower houses four bells. The oldest relic of the church is the carved neck of a cross dating from 950 AD and was found serving as part of the tower stairway.
Spofforth Castle, built by Henry de Percy in the early 14th century, cut into natural rock. The Percy estates, including Spofforth, were confiscated after the rebellion against Henry IV in 1408 and given to Sir Thomas Rokeby. The Percys regained the estates but lost them again in 1461 when they supported the losing side in the War of the Roses, then eventually all was restored to the family until 1604. The Castle was reduced to ruins during the Civil War of 1642-46. The ruins, primarily the west side of the original Castle, are now listed as Grade II under the guardianship of English Heritage and managed by Spofforth-with-Stockeld Parish Council. (Website).
Text – Leslie Bloom and Phyllida Oates
Photographs – Phyllida Oates
Addiitional information from Spofforth Castle website