Possibly Horbury's finest house, the Grade II listed Carr Lodge Mansion has lain unused for many years now, slowly decaying as Wakefield Metropolitan District Council (WMDC), the current owners decide on the best use for the historic old building.
Carr Lodge House.
Photo courtesy of Anthony Oldroyd.
A similar postcard view of Carr Lodge House. Courtesy of Joe Chappell
This Grade II listed building was built between 1770 and 1775 for John Bayldon and was called originally Sunroyd House or possibly Little Thornes House, because the design is similar to Thornes House in Wakefield. In 1790, the house was conveyed to John Carr, lawyer, the nephew of John Carr the architect, who was born in Horbury in 1723. Carr bought Sunroyd House in 1789 and renamed it "Carr Lodge". The mansion was originally a private house within landscaped gardens including a historic walled garden.
John Carr leased the house to tenants. In 1794, Carr Lodge was leased to Cuthbert Shafto for 11 years, but in May 1795, Mr. Shafto surrendered his lease.1
An advertisement in the local press in 1802 for Carr Lodge reads:
"Carr Lodge, near Wakefield. To be let. For a term of five or seven Years. The newly erected mansion house of Carr Lodge, about 2 miles from Wakefield, consisting of a dining room, 22' x 19', a second dining room, 22' x 16', a good breakfast room, large kitchen, servants' hall, pantry, all on the first floor, a suitable number of excellent bedrooms, detached domestic offices, stabling for ten horses, coach house, saddle house, barn, dovecote, farm yard with granary, sheds, etc. Two good gardens with choice fruit trees in full bearing and any quantity of inclosed land, not exceeding 30 acres, adjoining to and surrounding the premises with common pasture in the cow pasture of Horbury.
Carr Lodge is situated on an eminence, beautifully rising from a turnpike road at a distance. The grounds are nearly surrounded by a plantation of young trees, interspersed by larches, firs, flowering shrubs, etc. and the whole is accommodated to the use of a large, genteel family. A regular post twice a day to and from Wakefield. The lands may be entered to at Candlemas, and the house at May Day next. Enquire to Thomas and Robert Swann Esquires, York and of Mr. Carr, Wakefield, the owner."
John Carr died in 1824 and the property passed to his son, John Francis Carr, who married Mary Robinson of Hemingbrough. John Francis Carr played a big part in the civic life of the district. He was a magistrate, a member of the Horbury Common Lands Trust and Lord of the Rectory Manor of Dewsbury.
John Francis Carr made the mansion his family home with his three daughters Harriet, Mary Ann and Maria Hannah. Tragically Harriet died from scarlet fever in May 1841 as a child. Maria Hannah Carr married Canon Burn of Riverhead, Kent. Eloping against her father’s wishes, Mary Ann married Colonel Thomas Goulbourne Parker, of Browsholme Hall in Clitheroe. The marriage failed and Mary Ann left her husband and children, spending the last days of her life in Carr Lodge. When she died at the age of 63 in 1888, the mansion fell into the hands of the Parker family, who, it is believed, fell on hard times.
Black & white view of Carr Lodge Park. Wakefield Libraries Collection.
Black & white view of the rockery garden.Wakefield Libraries Collection.
John Francis Carr died on Christmas Day 1862 aged 76 and on his commemoration stone was the following inscription "In Memory of John Francis Carr of Carr Lodge and Hemingbrough Villa, a magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant for the County of York who departed this life on December 25th 1862, aged 76 years." After the death of her husband, the widow of John Francis Carr continued to live at Carr Lodge. Mrs. Carr commemorated her husband by giving a stained glass east window to South Ossett Church.2
After the death of Mrs. Parker, Carr Lodge was rented out to various tenants, including Captain Godfrey Armytage D.L., J.P., who had been a reforming Governor of Wakefield Prison from 1864-1881. Whilst in charge he was responsible for establishing new quarters for emergency cases, modifying the stringent system of silence, overhauled the dietary table, introduced aerated bread to the prisoners food, started the regular inspection of cells, used photography to record prisoners and arranged for a Catholic priest to hold daily services in the prison. He was also instrumental in founding the Wakefield Industrial Co-operative Society.
Other tenants of Carr Lodge included Archdeacon Donne, who had been Vicar of Wakefield. In 1921, Leonard Cooper, the father of novelist Lettice Cooper held the tenancy. At various times, Carr Lodge was untenanted for several years.
Horbury Urban District Council (HUDC) bought the property and its lands from Mary Ann Carr's second son, Colonel John William Robinson Parker C.B. of Browsholme Hall, Clitheroe for £5,500 in 1936 with a condition that the house be left intact during Col. Parker's lifetime and the 28-acre grounds were turned into a public park. Some of the old farm buildings were demolished and a Development Committee was formed to raise money to provide amenities for the new park. These included park benches, which then only cost £1.90 each and a children's paddling pool. Donors of park shelters included Mr. Alfred R. Briggs, of Grange Villa, Horbury; Mr. Edwin Poppleton, of Jenkin House, Horbury and the Horbury Industrial Co-Operative Society. Mr. H. Andrassy promised a hand gate and stone pillars to be erected at the Stannard Well Lane corner.
The development committee, that was formed to develop Carr Lodge Park contained a lot of well known Horbury names, among them: Mr. T. Nettleton (President), Messrs. F. Crow and E. E. Lee (Hon. Secretaries), Mr. M. Sayer ( Hon. Treasurer), Messrs. E. Andrassy, G. Senior, J. Tetley, W. H. Blundell, G. Wilby, L. E. Hutchinson and E. Briggs.
On Saturday 1st August 1936, the "Ossett Observer" published a detailed account of the plans for the Carr Lodge Estate, which, as detailed above, had recently been purchased by Horbury Urban District Council for £5,500, for use as a public park.
It reveals that the task to prepare the 28 acres of previously private grounds for public use, was undertaken by 'a comparatively small committee of local tradesmen'. A public appeal had been made to raise £1,000 to equip the park 'in the most up to date style'. The Observer was pleased to report that 'judging from the splendid and generous way in which Horbury people have “done their bit” according to their individual means, there seems little doubt that this total will soon be achieved.'
At a meeting of tradesmen on 28th May that year, when the Development Committee was formed, an appeal was made for public subscriptions to provide seats around the park. This was an instant success, with 30 seats being provided in the first fortnight. The Observer reported that with the fund standing at £600 'three shelters, a drinking fountain, a handgate with stone pillars to be erected at Stannard Well Lane corner and between 70 & 80 seats have been given'. It went on to announce that £300 was to be spent constructing a paddling and boating pool for children, designed by Mr. W. Sugars. A plan and description was included.
Staff of the Ministry of Pensions & National Insurance dept on the steps of Carr Lodge 1960.
Photo courtesy of Brian Pitchforth.
Plan for the new childrens' paddling pool. Ossett Observer 1st August 1936.
Two children enjoying the paddling pool. From 'Horbury Information Handbook c1967-8.
'The pool will be rectangular and constructed of concrete, with a water area of 30ft by 50ft & a depth of 9 to 12 inches. The base and sides will be of coloured cement, probably a shade of green, which will enhance the beauty and attractiveness of the water. It will be surrounded by a white cement margin, with a red concrete footpath, 6 feet wide, exclusively for the children using the pool. Around this an artistic rockery bank, three feet in width, is to be erected and on the top another footpath of white flagged concrete six feet wide, for the use of the parents and other spectators. Nineteen seats will be recessed in a shrub border at various points around this path and the background of trees on every side will make the pool a truly delightful spot. The pool itself will be fronted by a low stone wall, brought up in a series of stone piers with flat tops, surmounted with vases of flowers, which will give a most attractive appearance."
The article went on to inform readers that a children's playground would be erected next to the paddling pool, containing swings etc. The council hoped that the pool might be ready for use before the summer was over. Mr Sugars told the reporter that it was his ambition to 'see the name "Carr Lodge Park" in gilt lettering over the gateway fronting on to Wakefield Road, which would no doubt be a very impressive embellishment to what will be the main entrance.'
It would seem from this article that the bungalows which run down the Sunroyd side of the park were being constructed at the same time. The Observer report told readers that, 'The houses have been built of rustic brick and will have a 16ft wide road in the form of a crescent, for the use of pedestrians only. They will be separated from the park by a low wall and one or two seats will be placed under the trees so that the old folks will be able to sit out in the fine weather.'
During the Second World War, thousands of soldiers descended on Horbury and made Carr Lodge their home whilst awaiting to embark on a tour of service.
At the end of WW2 hostilities, the park enjoyed its heyday through the 1950s and 60s, with families enjoying days by the paddling pool or walking around the walled gardens. The mansion house then became the benefits office of Horbury Urban District Council.
In September 1964, workmen found some brick chambers and tunnels under the park, which were believed to be part of the original water supply for the house. Water would have been pumped from these brick-lined chambers up to the top of the house. An old well was discovered in 1970, close to the paddling pool and water from this well was used to refill the paddling pool after it had been drained because of vandalism.
In 1974, changes to local government organisation meant HUDC was swallowed up by Wakefield Council and tenants rented office space in the house, including the Ordnance Survey. By 1997 the building was shut and Horbury Heritage Trust took over responsibility for the building hoping to open it for use by the community.(3)
The rear of Carr Lodge House in 2011.
In 2010, local campaigners in Horbury took just six days to drum up a 1,528 signature petition and 527 letters of objection over the sale of Carr Lodge Mansion. Protesters said the council had allowed the building to fall into disrepair and had failed to properly inform residents of the sale. Many local people wanted to see the mansion used as a community facility.
The walled garden in Carr Lodge Park is a 50m x 50m, Grade II listed site. It was originally cultivated to provide food for the occupants of the mansion before being converted into a quiet area as part of Carr Lodge Park. The garden has effectively been abandoned over the past 20 years or so. During that time its walls had become overcome with ivy and brambles. Weeds had grown up to 6 feet high. Self seeded trees were left to grow wild and the garden has been used from time to time for illicit drinking and glue sniffing.
In 2009, the Rotary Club of Horbury and Ossett Phoenix created new herbaceous borders and planted up the old rose beds with bedding plants. They were also granted permission to start the first phase of bringing the Carr Lodge Walled Garden back into community use by clearing up the abandoned walled garden. Gaining permission to start was delayed somewhat because of the need for Wakefield Council to consider the implications of the sale of the Mansion House and whether or not the walled garden was to be included. Once the decision was made to exclude the garden from the sale and following representations through Councillor Ripley, the Council Cabinet member responsible for Parks and recreation, Cllr. Hudson, gave authority for the work to start. Further consultation with Council officers, Friends of Horbury Park and the Horbury Heritage Group concluded with the Rotary Club undertaking delivery of Phase 1, which will also include putting a gate on the walled garden entrance to facilitate safe working for subsequent stages.(5)
1. Possibly Sir Cuthbert Shafto, who alleged circa 1795 that he was attacked by his wife Mary Shafto who struck him on the face, kicked him on the private parts, and tried to strangle him with his neckcloth. He even gave this as the main reason for going to Scotland, when he tried to avoid Mary's citation to appear and answer her suit for separation. Shafio c. Shafto, 1797.
2. "Some Horbury Yesterdays" by R.D. Woodhall, first published in 1973.
3. "Wakefield Express", Wednesday, 16th November 2005.
4. "Wakefield Express", Thursday, 13th October 2011.
5. The Rotary Club of Horbury and Ossett Phoenix the Carr Lodge Park Walled Garden project.
Stephen Wilson and Helen Bickerdike June 2018
The front of Carr Lodge June 2019.