The Old Hall Askrigg

The Old Hall Askrigg around 1840

The shop to the side of the Old Hall has a sign above ‘Cooper Chemist and Drugist’

This four storey building was built in 1678 during the reign of Charles the II by William Thornton and was deemed to be one of Wensleydale’s most historic and majestic buildings.

At the back of Old Hall the property was built originally as two houses. In 1467 Henry Smythe and Thomas Person lived in the lord’s chief house as it was known. It had two outer doors and two spiral staircases. The property was purchased by William Thornton in 1670 and eight years later he built on in front of the original property the magnificent Old Hall that Askrigg was reknown for.

An overmantle from one of the fireplaces in the Hall depicting possibly white mullbery the food of the silkworm.
The Hall windows were mullion with arched lights and stepped hoodmoulds over the lower doors and gable windows.

The upper doors linked by a balcony, had classical segmental pediments.

An inscription over the doorway reads ‘Gulielmus Thornton posuit hanc domum MDCLXXVIII. Omnis enim domus apparatur aquopiam, qui vero construxit haec omnia, est Deus. Heb: 3, 4.’
Transcribed reads : ‘Every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.

Old Hall painting 1900 by Gordon Home

Old Hall 1900

The Thornton family owned the hall until the late 1740s.
It was the Thorntons who had the doors put into the third floor of the building leading to a balcony, from where they were able to watch the popular sport of bull-baiting going on in the market place.
The ring to which the bull was tethered can still be seen today but thankfully the barbaric sport of bull-baiting is no more.

W. Lightfoot Bankes owned the hall in 1890.
A Mrs. Bankes owned it in 1914.

The Old Hall circa 1920s undergoing upgrading

When the last Thornton passed away in 1746 the Old Hall was divided into two properties. John Addison a dyer lived in one half and James Lightfoot in the other. James set up his business as an apothercary the equivalent of the modern day general practitioner. His practice also included visiting people who were too ill to visit the shop.

In 1756 James Lightfoot built himself a new three storey house in Askrigg which is known as the Apothercaries house.

The Old Hall in the 1930s as a private Hotel

In later years the Old Hall became a private hotel.

Tragically, the Old Hall caught fire on Thursday 10th October 1935.
The building was so badly damaged it had to be demolished.

After the fire

Michael Weatherald’s Memories of the fire
We were woken up at 5.00am ‘Get some buckets’ they shouted. The policeman was there but poorly, and his wife had to bring a basket with sandwiches and brandy to keep him going. The Hawes fire Brigade only had a small fire-cart. They had to bring the equipment on a lemonade waggon (there was a lemonade works in Hawes). When the ‘Proper’ engine arrived from Catterick with the crew’s hands frozen from hanging on the back of the engine outside, there was a big row because Hawes had plugged into the hydrant and Catterick had to go to the beck. Then the roof fell in. If the fire had happened today the Old Hall would have been saved.

Excerpt from the Upper Wensleydale Newletter September 2007

The Walker lads carrying furniture to safety from the old hall as it burned.

If you wander around Askrigg you will see bits and pieces of the Old Hall re-used in walls and properties, we waste nothing in Yorkshire.



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The Dales