Yanwath Hall

Yanwath Hall – answers on a postcard!

Cumbrian Characters is heading off-piste this week, to the lovely county of Devon. With a little mystery.

Namely: why did the writer of this postcard wish to see inside Yanwath Hall?

The handwriting is hard to decipher, but the postcard (which shows Yanwath Hall on the front) is addressed to A L Radford, of Bradninch Manor.

Was this —(?place?) — described in Country Life? (‘yes’ added in another hand later). 

‘— — exterior, but they wouldn’t let us in’

‘— (?Yorkshire?) now, home on Weds, — — —‘

Bradninch Manor

Built by Peter Sainthill in 1547 ….from 1874 to 1976, the Manor House was owned by the Duchy of Cornwall – the private royal estate currently run by Prince Charles – before being sold several times from the 1980s onwards. When up for sale in 2020, it was valued at £2.5 million.

So, who was A L Radford?

Arthur Locke Radford was born in 1862. His parents, Daniel and Louisa, both look to have been very much rooted in Devon. He married twice, and again, both wives were from Devon families.

He lived in high circles:

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales will lunch with Mr and Mrs Radford at the Manor House, Bradninc, on Tuesday.

The prince will lunch with Mr A Locke Radford, the tenant of the manor house. Mr Radford… is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries…

Western Morning News

We regret to announce the death, which took place on Sunday, of Mr Arthur Locke Radford… deceased was the fourth son of the late Mr Daniel Radford, of Lydford and Mount Tavy, Tavistock, and a brother of Lady Radford JP, of Pennsylvania Park, Exeter…. Deceased was 63.’

1925, November 17, Tuesday

So, why Yanwath Hall?

Well, Visit Cumbria’s description may be the simple answer:

a splendidly preserved low 14th Century pele tower and a 15th Century hall, reputed to be the finest manorial hall in England. It has changed little since the 16th Century. The tower has a tunnel-vaulted ground floor, and at the top battlements stepped up at the corners. The first floor has Elizabethan five-light mullioned and transomed windows. The hall is distinguished by a bay window with a frontage of three lights.

If had featured in Country Life magazine in 1920, it may simply have been that Arthur Locke Radford was interested in as an antiquarian. And had suggested to whoever wrote the postcard: “Why don’t you drop by when you are up there?”

A large party of visitors

Yanwath Hall also caught the attention of Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian Society.

 A year after ‘our’ postcard, the Penrith Observer records how the society held two days of excursions in North Westmorland and East Cumberland. A sub-head says ‘500 members,’ but it seems ‘only’ about 110 took part in the excursions.

One of these was to Yanwath Hall.

Mr. C. Bird, the tenant, had given permission for the exterior of the Hall to he examined, but it was not convenient for such a large party to wander through the ancient house. ‘

Mr. R. Morton Rigg, architect, Penrith, read a short paper. in which he said it was regretted that they were not allowed inside, there were many points of interest which were difficult to describe.’ 

Mr Morton Rigg instead spoke about the name Yanwath:

We find the name written Yanwath. Yanewath, Eanwith, Eanwath, Yanewich, and in other ways. …Another form in Yemonwath –the wath over the Yamon, which is still the local pronunciation.

Christopher Bird

You can hardly blame Christopher Bird for not wanting dozens of visitors traipsing through his home, peering at the architecture. 

Why he refused out postcard writer permission, we can never know. 

In 1921, Christopher Bird would have been 54. Born at King’s Meaburn, he had married wife Ann Hodgson in 1904, and had already been at Yanwath Hall some years by then – he was there in 1881, aged 14, with his father Thomas Bird, 77, the farmer, and his mother Betsy. Thomas Bird had taken the tenancy just a few months before the 1881 census, when previous tenant Arthur Graham moved to Kirbythore Hall.

R Morton Rigg is presumably Richard Morton Rigg, of Egerton House, Penrith, who died in 1951. Why he his middle name was Morton isn’t immediately obvious. In that there is no obvious connection with (the location) Morton Rigg, Carlisle.