Thursday, 22 September 2011

Article - Mystery motoring men (Finningley)

A sale notice in the Doncaster Chronicle of June 17, 1881, the Finningley Estate was described as “a most compact and important landed investment of Freehold tenure consisting of about 2, 418 acres.

“The land lies almost entirely in a ring fence, is fertile in its character, chiefly arable, with several closes of pasture, interspersed with thriving plantations affording excellent cover for game and recognised also as one of the best partridge manors in the district...The annual income amounts to about £2,277.”

On August 21, 1903 the Doncaster Gazette noted: “For sale by private contract (in consequence of the decease of George Spofforth Lister Esq JP the late owner) The Finningley Estate.”

Details were also given about the house: “The residence contains on the ground floor, entrance hallway, bay-windowed dining room, drawing room, with small recess leading into a small conservatory, morning room, billiard room, study, housekeper’s room, butler’s pantry, butler’s bedroom, servants’ hall, kitchen and scullery, store rooms, with dairy and boot house outside, etc. There are 20 bed and dressing rooms, stabling for 14 horses, coach houses and well appointed out-offices”.

Later the Estate was owned by the Parker Rhodes family until the death of John Parker Rhodes in 1943.

John Parker-Rhodes’ obituary in the Doncaster Chronicle of January 7, 1943 noted the following: “[He] died at Honeywick Hill,Castle Carey, Somerset last Friday. He was the only surviving son of the late Frederick Parker-Rhodes, at one time senior partner in the firm of Parker-Rhodes Cockburn and Co, solicitors of Rotherham, who lived for some years at Finningley Park. Mr Parker-Rhodes, who was educated at Uppingham and Penbroke College Cambridge, was a keen sportsman and a Fellow of the Royal Zoological Society.”

Two months later, the Finningley Park Estate, comprising over 1,505 acres, was sold for £45,000. Starting at £15,000 and rising in bids of £1,000 and later £500, the Estate was sold by auction as one lot, at the Woolpack Hotel, Doncaster to W Elmhirst of Rotherham for £45,000. The latter bought for a client. The 1,505 acres included three farms, Finningley Park Hall and other lots. Six hundred acres of the estate, sold in the previous July, had made £30,000.

Pevsner (1959) noted: “The Georgian house of three bays and two and a half storeys now overlooks a desert of sand and gravel digging.”

Finningley Hall was later demolished.

Hamilton Lodge, a villa-type residence set back from Carr House Road, was built by a Captain Robson c 1856, to the designs of BS Brundell and Tom Penrice, who were brothers-in-law. Later, Brundell was involved with the designs for the recently demolished General Infirmary & Dispensary/Education Offices in Princegate.

Perhaps the lodge’s most noted occupant was AO Edwards and it is tempting to suggest that he is one of the men pictured in the car outside the house in the photograph here. If any reader can confirm or deny this, I would love to hear from them.

AO Edwards developed the Wheatley Estate in the 1920s and later went to America where he was engaged upon the creation of a 220-acre estate at Palm Beach Shores, with the luxury Inlet Court Hotel as the centrepiece.

Hamilton Lodge was purchased by the Corporation in 1924 from AO Edwards, as noted in the Gazette of May 9, 1924: “The Doncaster Town Council on Wednesday confirmed minutes relating to the purchase of Hamilton Lodge near Race Common for use by the Public Health Department as a maternity home. These stated that Mr AO Edwards had accepted £4,500 for the house and grounds subject to the minerals of a lower depth than 700 yards being reserved. The Council agreed that a contract be entered into with Mr Edwards for the purchase of the premises on these terms.”

HR Wormald recorded: “[Hamilton Lodge was] developed by the corporation as a maternity home at a cost between 1925 and 1928 of £6,805, also taken over by the National Health Service, has become redundant to the service by the opening of the new maternity wing, in 1971, at the Royal Infirmary and is now used as a club for hospital service employees in all the Doncaster hospitals.”

Many Doncastrians, including myself, were born in Hamilton Lodge and the interior view here will bring fond memories for many readers.

Rossington Bridge House continued to be used as an inn until 1850 when the licence was not renewed.

Tom Bradley in The Old Coaching Days in Yorkshire (1889) gives some details about the house during the coaching era: “A few of the coaches were horsed from the Rossington Bridge Inn, and the stages they worked were from Rossington Bridge to Barnby Moor on the one hand and Red House on the other.”

From 1850, the property has remained primarily a private house. One of its noted tenants during the 20th century was PH Beales, consultant ear, nose and throat surgeon at Doncaster Infirmary. Just before the Second World War, brewers Whitworth, Son & Nephew proposed to return the site to a pub. On May 11, 1939 the Doncaster Chronicle reported: “Farm buildings at Rossington Bridge, at the junction of Sheep Bridge Lane and the Great North Road, are to be demolished and in their place is to be erected a new hotel.”

The pub was never built but during the 1990s, Rossington Bridge House became the Hare and Tortoise pub.

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