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Beesthorpe Hall

THE RISE AND FALL OF THE BEESTHORPE ESTATE
WHEN IN THE OWNERSHIP OF THE BRISTOWE FAMILY
CIRCA 1547~1935

Beesthorpe Hall belonged to the Bristowe family for nearly 400 years, the earliest association of the Bristowes with Beesthorpe being in 1547 when John Bristowe is known to have possessed lands there.  The original building (certain Elizabethan characteristics are still in evidence) probably dates from the late 16th Century. In 1764 Samuel Bristowe (1736~1818) of the Derbyshire branch of the family bought Beesthorpe from his kinsman William Bristowe (1695~1770) who had impoverished the estate.   Samuel, already in possession of the Twyford estate, had the means to immediately set about making improvements at Beesthorpe, both to the house and to the estate as a whole.   There was in fact a complete refurbishment of the property.   Bills and receipts dated 1770~71 list quantities of materials used during the remodeling of that period when sash windows replaced mullioned, stucco rendering was applied and a pedimented portico with Tuscan columns erected.   Pedimented dormers, coped parapets, ball finials and decorative urns completed the visual transformation.   At the same time stables and a pedimented coach house were built.   A single storey wing on the north side of the house, required for the new dining room, was added in 1809 and a similar wing at the south end, needed for a large ballroom, in 1815.   Samuel also laid out the woodland behind and the parkland in front of the house.  A small ornamental lake was made and also the ha-ha.

Beesthorpe Hall 1796

Beesthorpe Hall in 1796 prior to the addition of the North and South wings

In his book 'Nottinghamshire' (1938) Arthur Mee states that the Beesthorpe parkland was the work of the famous 'Capability' Brown but apparently the gazetteer of Brown's works does not make any mention of Beesthorpe.   Even if Brown was not personally responsible, Samuel Bristowe certainly emulated that natural style.   Thus the beginning of the 19th Century saw the Beesthorpe estate enjoying a new found prosperity.   The Schedule of estates for land tax dated 4/3/1799 shows Samuel as owning 933 acres in Caunton, Norwell, Beesthorpe and Kersall.   The size of the estate remained at around 1000 acres until 1888 when the owner, Samuel Boteler Bristowe (1822~97), was forced to sell part of it, being in urgent need of capital.   With the agricultural depression of the latter part of the 19th Century, the economic distinction was becoming yearly more marked between landowners who were purely agricultural and landowners who were guaranteed a share in the wealth generated by industry and commerce.   Accordingly it came about that Samuel Boteler, although a County Court Judge and a man prominent in local affairs, including being M.P. for Newark from 1870~80, felt it necessary to sell 392 acres, this land being bought by Col. Burnell of Winkburn Hall.   As a result of this sale the Beesthorpe estate was left with about 680 acres.

Thirty nine years after Samuel Boteler's death the estate was sold out of the Bristowe family.   His sons died without issue and the youngest of these, Frederick Edward Bristowe (1866~1930), who had succeeded to the property on the death of his brother Charles John Bristowe (1862~1911) appointed a young second cousin as heir.   The latter was Paul Noel Humphrey Garnett, born 1898, who changed his name to Bristowe in order to inherit.   Within 5 years, in 1935, Paul had sold the estate to a consortium of European Jewish businessmen anxious to get their money out of Nazi Germany and invest it in English land - an unlikely and rather sad way for the almost 400 year period of Bristowe ownership to come to an end.   Then, shortly after the end of the war, the estate was put on the market and sold by auction in 12 individual lots, chief of which were of course Beesthorpe Hall itself (with some 39 acres of land including the 274 acres of parkland) and the four farms.   Thus the estate, now comprising 653 acres, was finally broken up in 1947.

As a personal footnote to this story, I find it sad that there is now no trace of the parkland, the view to the front of the Hall across neighbouring farmland being thoroughly uninteresting.   It would have been on one of the oak trees in the park that my great-grandfather John Bristowe's (1811~88) name was carved; as related to me by my mother.

John B. Chanter
13 August 2000

Sources

Bristowe Archive Collection at Nottinghamshire Archives.
Dissertation entitled "The Bristowe Family and the Beesthorpe Estate in the Nineteenth Century" by Pam Littlewood (June 2000).

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Bes-617thumb BEESTHORPE HALL Photograph
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Larger versions of the thumb-nail photographs are available by "clicking" on them and following the links. These photos were taken by Frank Browett early in September 2004, and in addition to these photographs a Slide-Show (with reduced quality) of some of those taken by Frank can be viewed here. Please be patient if you are using a "dial-up" connection, as it may take a while for all the pictures to download into your cache. The Slide-Show will commence automatically when the download is complete.

As for Beesthorpe Hall today (2005).  Well, it has had its moments when it was Thornley Manor in the second series of the popular British television comedy of "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet", and this is a link to the website dedicated to that series.  More recently the present owners have developed parts of the Beesthorpe Hall for use as a "Conference Centre" and some additional photographs and details are to be found on this link to the Beesthorpe Hall website.

Page last modified: Mon 29 June 2015 23:55:06