From Wilderness to Weddings
a beautiful history
It was built in 1856–58, and designed by the Lancaster architect E. G. Paley for the Ormrod family of Bolton. It has since been extended and outbuildings have been added. The hall is in Gothic Revival style. A lake was added to the grounds in 1897. The hall and surrounding parkland were purchased in the 1920s by the Riddell family and the farms and fell land by the Whewell family. In 1967 the hall was also bought by the Whewells.
By the 2000’s the hall continued to be in a satisfactory condition, but the outbuildings were in a poor state and the gardens were overgrown. The Whewell family worked with Ruth Watson and cooperated with the Channel 4’s programme Country House Rescue, creating a café and arranging open days. The hall and its surrounding outbuildings are recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II listed building.
The Ormrod Family
1796 – 1875
Peter Ormrod (1796–1875) built Wyresdale Hall in 1856. He bought 6,000-acres from the Duke of Hamilton to create the estate. The house cost £50,000 (about £4m at today’s value). The architect was Edward Graham Paley who designed many outstanding buildings in Lancashire. Peter was a banker and cotton manufacturer.
In 1838 Peter married Eliza Hardcastle. The couple had no children and therefore when Peter died in 1875 Wyresdale Park was left to his nephew James Cross Ormrod. However his wife Eliza was given a life interest in the house and she remained there until her death in 1890. When James Cross Ormrod died in 1895 his son Captain Peter Ormrod (1869–1923) inherited the Estate. Captain Peter Ormrod was a very outgoing man and made major improvements to the property. His most outstanding achievement was the establishment of the Wyresdale Fishery which was said to be the largest in Europe. He also added a deer park and a lake to the estate.
In about 1912 Dame Laura Knight visited Wyresdale Park with her husband Harold at the request of the then owner Captain Peter Ormrod. In her autobiography she mentions that during her stay she was inspired to paint the grounds, the byres and the fells. One of these paintings was called “The Morning Ride” which depicts the fountain which still exists today in the grounds of Wyresdale Park.
In 1922 Peter sold Wyresdale Park. The Estate was split with the house and surrounding grounds being sold to Dr Hugh Riddell and a large portion of the remaining land to Shepherd Whewell.
The Whewell Family
1960 – Present Day
From the 1960s, Shepherd Whewell and his brother started re-uniting parcels of the estate including the house and concentrated on hunting partridge, pheasant and mallard. But trying to maintain such a costly concern on the income of 800 acres started to become a strain and action was needed to find new revenues.
In 2011 Jim Whewell Jr. and his sister Sarah persuaded their parents to transform parts of the grounds around into a boutique camping destination. The family was pointed in a different direction when they featured on Channel 4’s Country House Rescue, a show where presenter Ruth Watson gives blunt advice to owners of estates and stately piles struggling to keep their heads above water. The Whewell’s first step was to convert the brick outbuildings and glasshouse in the walled garden into the Applestore Café, which is run by Sally Whewell. The next step was tapping into the ‘glamping’ market with two different experiences, Feather Down Lodges and The Orchard Bell Tents, both situated by the boating lake.
In 2018, the estate moved into a new phase after restoring a large collection of Victorian barn buildings – a full set of stables, haylofts, a shippon and a piggery into unique spaces, especially for weddings, spa and artisan retailers.