Brodsworth Hall and Gardens: One of England’s Finest Victorian Country Houses

by eHeritage Blogazine
December 9, 2021 | 11 min read

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens: One of England’s Finest Victorian Country Houses

Brodsworth Hall is an incredible Victorian House situated just 5 miles North West of Doncaster. Amazingly, this stunning example of a mid-Victorian mansion house, took just two years to build and was completed in 1863. Built in the Italianate style by its owner Charles Sabine Augustus, Brodsworth Hall is one of the finest Victorian Houses in England and originally stood at the heart of an 8,000 Acre estate. Today, the beautiful landscaped gardens and woodland walks have been beautifully restored by English Heritage to the original 1860’s design.

It’s fair to say that prior to my visit to Brodsworth, I knew very little about the place. Furthermore, most of the stately homes I visit nowadays tend to belong to the Georgian period, or earlier, and Brodsworth seemed to offer something different with its nineteenth Century Italianate style of architecture. The hall looked pretty stunning on the English Heritage website but I really wanted to see it for my self as it offered something a bit different to what I was used to.

With my wife at work, I decided to visit Brodsworth Hall and Gardens with my daughter Oaklie, and my mum and Dad. It wasn’t such a long drive down the A1 and we arrived at around 11am. Now, the house doesn’t actually open until 1pm but fortunately the gardens are open from 10am and are large enough to take up a good few hours of your time. When we attended last week it was the middle of the record breaking mini-heatwave and it was absolutely boiling!

After parking up in the ample carpark we made our way towards the English heritage entrance hall and shop. This was clearly a fairly new addition and encompasses numerous items of English Heritage merchandise such as books, sweets and alcohol. After showing our membership cards, we passed through the shop and out onto the drive, which takes you up through the original tree lined driveway and up towards the house.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect but as we approached the pleasure gardens surrounding the house, the East side of the hall slowly began to reveal itself to the front. I was immediately in awe of the halls conservative, yet striking design, with its white magnesium limestone construction and impressive pillared main entrance. From this initial approach it is clear to the bulk of the main house with the servants block running off it to the north. After a few pictures we made our way to the right of the house and around the servants block. The heat was already almost unbearable and we were pleased to find a small caravan type stall selling drinks.

At this point we were feeling a bit overwhelmed about the huge scale of the place, and weren’t really sure where to go. Assuming we might have missed the opportunity to get a free map on arrival, I left Oaklie with my mum and dad and sprinted back to the shop. I was a little disappointed to find that there were no free maps and you had to pay £4.50 for a brochure. I swiftly made my way back to find Oaklie being swooned upon by staff members at a little tent within the North lawned area. From here there was a fantastic view across the lawn of the little church lit up in the sun.

We decided to head back to the East front of the house, where the pleasure gardens seemingly started, and made our way round to the main Southern front of the house. The views from this side of the house across the countryside must have been incredible and it was obvious to see why the house was situated where it was. The south facing side of the house is truly fantastic lit up in the sun, and after a few more pictures we followed the gardens down towards the west side of the house, and where the main gardens are situated.

The gardens are absolutely incredible. Closest to the house there are formal lawns which on on our visit were being used for croquet. Next is the beautiful fountain garden surrounded by formal flower beds. The centrepiece of this garden is an incredible three tiered white marble fountain. As usual we were largely being led around by Oaklie who appeared to be on some sort of mission. To the South Western corner of the gardens is a lovely little summerhouse on top of a man made mound. The views from here are incredible and most of the gardens and the house can be seen. Behind the summerhouse is situated a pet cemetery; nowhere near as creepy as the film i’m pleased to report!

From the summerhouse follows a maze of paths and bridges which lead through the rest of the gardens and woodlands. Much of these gardens are situated within unused stone quarries and are designed to look much larger than they actually are. These gardens are absolutely beautiful and it is easy to get lost in this incredible landscape. Beautiful woodland walks follow towards the to the North West of the estate and offer further stunning views of the house.

It would have been nice to have spent a bit more time exploring the grounds, but unfortunately we were all feeling a bit hungry so it was time to head back towards the house and the cafe/restaurant, situated to the West of the house, where the servants wing meets the main house. There are two dining rooms situated inside the building and a lovely outside courtyard where we decided to sit. With it being the summer holidays it was naturally quite busy inside. Unfortunately the actual serving area is pretty small and with only one till in operation it meant we had to join a fairly large queue down the corridor. I would certainly avoid the cafe at peak times.

Whilst I found the selection of food quite comprehensive, I was a little disappointed to find there were no proper cooked meals and the menu mainly consisted of salads and platters. I suppose this is probably what people want to eat when its hot. There was however the usual selection of scones, cakes and baked potatoes, and I was pleased to see bacon sandwiches were still being served. I had bacon and sausage and it was pretty nice.

At 1pm we stood outside the main entrance waiting for the house to open. Unfortunately the original oak door has been removed, and in its place is an ugly MDF board. It looks pretty rubbish but i’m told its just a temporary measure. Just after 1pm the doors opened and we were shown through to the entrance hall.

It takes quite a lot to impress me nowadays, and yet when my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting, I was left quite speechless. If you think the exteriors of the house are impressive, then the interiors are something else. The Italianate style continues inside with beautifully crafted marble statues, scagliola and imitation marble columns, and beautifully painted and varnished mock marble panelled walls. The crimson and gold colour scheme, that runs throughout the house, is simple stunning, and gives the impression that absolutely no expense has been spared. You really have to pause and take it all in.

From the incredible top lit great hall, with its impressive staircase, the public route takes you through to the dining room. A grand mahogany table takes centre stage and is surrounded by red leather chairs. The grandeur of the room is further enhanced with some of Thelluson’s finest paintings adorning the walls.

From back outside the dining room, a corridor lined with stunning sculptures, runs the length of the South facing side of the house. Half way down is situated another incredible open space. This comes in the form of the South Hall. The South Hall was primarily used as a half way point between the Drawing Room and the Dining Room, and also as an informal sitting room, leading out onto the South Terrace. The columns in this space are painted yellow, which along with the yellow furniture, makes for a striking contrast against the crimson wall coverings. I found this to be one of my favourite rooms in the house. A large billiard room can also be accessed from the South Hall.

From the South Hall, the corridor continues down to the Drawing Room – another extraordinary space. Your attention will immediately be drawn to the beautiful, Venetian styled glass chandelier, and then up to the absolutely incredible Renaissance inspired, hand painted ceiling. This room has very much evolved with the house, but back in the nineteenth century the decoration would have been even more grand. There is so much to love about this room, but as with much of the house the years have not been kind. Much of the woodwork and textiles of the dining room have become faded, largely due to sunlight coming in from the South facing, full length windows.

Back into the West Hall, the direction shifts to the north of the house, where you will find a small library and the lathe room. The latter is basically a spare room used by Charles Sabine Augustus to concentrate on his hobbies.

From the lathe room you can take a staircase up to the first floor of the main house. The first floor is not quite as grand as the ground floor as this is where the family bedrooms are situated. Whilst the ground floor is designed to impress, the first floor is designed for comfort. After getting told off for touching the delicate walls, we made our way down the main corridor which services a series of suits comprising the owners accommodation. There are also a number of other rooms, including the principal guest room with its impressive boat shaped bed, further family bedrooms, and the nurseries. From the East end of the first floor corridor, you can look down the main stairwell, and gawp over the magnificent main hall.

With the tour of the main house over, we moved through to the first floor of the servants wing. This comprises comfortable accommodation for 13 female members of staff. The larder and kitchen, along with butlers pantry, scullery and Aga kitchen are all found downstairs.

After dragging Oaklie around the house and gardens, it seemed only fair that we spent a little time at the woodland play park. This is situated close to the church and contains plenty of climbing frames, and wings, to keep children of all ages entertained. Oaklie absolutely loves basket swings and was happy to find that this play park contained two. We were a little concerned about the blistering heat, so following purchasing several cool bottles of water from the drink stall, we decided to call it a day and made for the car. The air conditioning was a bit of a god send and Oaklie fell asleep almost immediately. I would have too if i didn’t have to drive!

I think its fair to say that Brodsworth is one of the finest county estates I have ever visited. It has certainly left a lasting impression, and I am already thinking about my next visit. Whilst the exterior of the house is fairly conservative in design, the interiors are truly magnificent and befitting of King (or Queen). I was literally blown away by Brodsworth Hall and gardens and it is a shame it isn’t better known. Having spoken to friends and colleagues since, nobody has even heard of Brodsworth, and this is such a shame. English Heritage have done such a fantastic job of renovating the gardens, and conserving the house, and at this time fo the year the grounds are looking absolutely splendid. If you’ve visited your fair share of Georgian manor houses lately, and fancy something a bit different, then this grand victorian house is an absolute must. Seriously, add it to your travel itinerary, and do it now! Brodsworth absolutely has to be your next historic travel destination!

Brodsworh Hall has free parking and costs just £11.80 for adults and £7.10 for children. I would recommend buying a guid so at to get the most out of your visit.

To find out more about Brodsworth Hall and gardens click here.

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I’m Mikey Holden. I have a real passion for historical places. I’ve always loved visiting colossal houses and castles, daydreaming about the schemes that have been thought up within their walls, keen to discover the stories waiting to be told. I am a heritage travel blogger with a simple mission: To discover, explore and photograph historical places in Yorkshire and beyond.

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