The above photograph of the west wing of Bretton Hall, c. 1930, was kindly supplied by Leonard Bartle, Archivist at the National Arts Education Archive.
In March 1812, Jeffry Wyatt presented his grand design for construction on the west side of the mansion.
S.J. Wright * tells us that, in order to build a grand Library and Music Room, Wyatt needed space:
“He needed to push out beyond the west faces of both the Mansion and the office block. First he broke into the old corridor outside the new Dining Room and created the pillared Vestibule that rises through the house to the coloured glass lantern on the roof. Then west of that he had to create the curiously shaped and rather gloomy Anteroom. …
“Once clear of the pre-existing buildings, Wyatt could provide a large Library and a large Music Room side by side, with the library to the south to get the best of the light.”
Photographs from the Country Life Magazine in 1938 show the Library at its best. The magazine’s description tells us that:
“…the library … remains much as Wyatt left it, with its mahogany bookcases lining the walls. Some interesting Regency furniture includes a pair of library steps, and the room retains its original Wilton carpet. … Wyatt’s fireplace remains – a combination of dark green marble with brass mounts – and over it hangs a fine Moreland. The curtains show a very successful arrangement of Drapings in the Regency manner which is admirably in keeping with the character of the room.”
In the early hours of the morning on 9th November, 1927, a fire broke out in the children’s day nursery, situated immediately above the library. It seems that no-one was seriously injured, and many of the family’s treasured possessions were rescued. The library ceiling collapsed, however, and there was extensive fire damage to the carpet. The article in the Country Life Magazine tells us that:
“… The carpet, however was badly burnt, and has since been most skilfully repaired by Italian workers, who were faced with the task of patching over 3,000 holes, not a trace of which can now be detected.”
Sadly, nothing remains of the splendid fixtures and fittings in the Regency Library, except the cornice and frieze, but these have been rendered almost beyond notice by white paint, matching the walls. All that is left to remind us of the splendour of Wyatt’s inspired design is a photograph that was published in 1938, and another – almost forgotten – taken at the same time, but not published. (Unfortunately, the photographs are not available to show on this website, due to copyright restrictions.)
* S. J. Wright’s remarks are taken from his article – A History of the Architecture of Bretton Hall Near Wakefield – which was published in the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal vol 72.
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(The photographs from 1938 are reproduced with the permission of Lord Allendale)
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