Aske Hall

Here's Jo, talking about Aske Hall in Yorkshire. I have a particular reason, which I'll explain at the end.

There are, of course, gentry and aristocratic homes all over England and most don't come to our attention unless something special crops up. This is especially true when the house isn't open to the public, as is the case with Aske Hall.

There's an extensive article on the history of the house here so I won't go into it, but it's interesting that the original was constructed in the 1760s, the time of my Georgian romances, so parts represent a typical Georgian country house, even if it has undergone substantial changes. What's more, it illustrates one type of Georgian landowner.

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To begin with, the man who built this house was a self-made man. "The son of an Edinburgh Baillie, Dundas was educated at the High School. He made his fortune through stock speculation and by provisioning the British army, under the Duke of Cumberland, during their campaign against the Jacobites (1745-6) and in Flanders during the Seven Years War (1756 – 1763). Dundas was created a Baronet in 1762.

"http://www.scottish-places.info/people/famousfirst986.html

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Of course he then wanted a country seat, and bought the Aske Estate.

This picture is of  Sir Lawrence Dundas at Aske Hall with his daughter.

This is from the Aske Hall site above.

"Sir Lawrence Dundas Bt. (that means  baronet, an inheritable knighthood) bought the Aske Estate from Lord Holderness in 1763 for £45,000 and the imposing Hall has remained the family seat ever since. Sir Lawrence was a hugely ambitious and successful man and one of the reasons he bought Aske was that the estate included the pocket borough of Richmond and he was therefore able to nominate the MP."

(A pocket borough was one that was in someone's pocket — ie he got to dictate who became the MP. This was a very common situation before Parliamentary reform in the 19th century. I'm sure Rothgar has a pocket-full of them.)

"He subsequently branched out into banking, property (he developed Grangemouth in 1777) and was a major backer of the Forth & Clyde Canal."

Then we can see how the family rises.

Sir Lawrence, the baillie's son (1712-1781) never managed to become a peer, but his son Dundas

Thomas(1741 to 1820) made an excellent marriage to Lady Charlotte FitzWilliam,  daughter of the 3rd Earl Fitzwilliam, and that moved the family up the social scale a few more steps. The marriage took place in 1764, as Thomas's father was building Aske Hall, and Thomas was already living the part as we can see from this portrait — the very image of a Georgian gentleman enjoying the obligatory Grand Tour. 

In 1794 Thomas became Baron Dundas of Aske — ie Lord Dundas.

He was succeeded by his eldest son Lawrence (1766-1839) who became second Lord Dundas at the age of 56. In return for providing financial assistance to the Duke & Duchess of Kent,  the future Queen Victoria's parents,  Lawrence was created the 1st Earl of Zetland in 1838. In 1892, the title became a marquessate.

There's another page about the family here.

So now, my connection to all this. Very slight, I assure you!

In the 1930s, my father in law was a mechanic/chaffeur at Aske Hall, and we have the photographs to prove it. He didn't talk much about it, and we weren't sensible enough to question him. (Note to all, get your elderly relatives to talk about their lives, if possibly recording it. You never know when you'll want to know, and even everyday lives have historical interest.)

Because of this, we drove to it a few years back, and it's admirably accessible. One can drive close to the house and there's a public footpath through the part that runs close to the house. Now we've taken the advantage of one of the rare open days to visit and learn more. It is a fascinating house still with many Georgian interiors, including a room designed by Capability Brown. I learned something there. I wasn't aware he did anything other than gardens and landscapes.

IMG_3837  There is also a portrait of a quite handsome young man that turned out to be, no less, the future Prince Regent when her was still good looking enough to be called "Florizel."

My next book will be An Unwilling Countess (March 2011), set in Yorkshire. I decided to base Keynings, the hero's home, on Aske Hall.Of course, Aske Hall has changed since 1765, and by the time I'd finished meddling it's a different place in a slightly different location, but that was the seed of it.

Does anything about this family history surprise you? Does this picture of 18th century life fit the world of historical fiction? I find that often the self-made hero is portrayed as slightly coarse and perhaps even proud of it and disdainful of the rich and titled, whereas Sir Lawrence appears to have had good taste and certainly made every attempt to fit in with the aristocratic world — and suceeded.

Cheers,

Jo

60 thoughts on “Aske Hall”

  1. Fascinating, Jo! It’s a beautiful example of how to work your way up the social ladder from baillie to marquess in a century and a half. I gather that the British aristocracy has always been modestly flexible in this way, as potters become lords (the Wedgwoods) and their descendants disavow the title to become fiery liberal MPs.
    I suppose the coarse self-made man might be rooted in Heyer’s A CIVIL CONTRACT. And I think the term ‘self-made man’ has a special set of nuances in British English that it doesn’t have in American English.

    Reply
  2. Fascinating, Jo! It’s a beautiful example of how to work your way up the social ladder from baillie to marquess in a century and a half. I gather that the British aristocracy has always been modestly flexible in this way, as potters become lords (the Wedgwoods) and their descendants disavow the title to become fiery liberal MPs.
    I suppose the coarse self-made man might be rooted in Heyer’s A CIVIL CONTRACT. And I think the term ‘self-made man’ has a special set of nuances in British English that it doesn’t have in American English.

    Reply
  3. Fascinating, Jo! It’s a beautiful example of how to work your way up the social ladder from baillie to marquess in a century and a half. I gather that the British aristocracy has always been modestly flexible in this way, as potters become lords (the Wedgwoods) and their descendants disavow the title to become fiery liberal MPs.
    I suppose the coarse self-made man might be rooted in Heyer’s A CIVIL CONTRACT. And I think the term ‘self-made man’ has a special set of nuances in British English that it doesn’t have in American English.

    Reply
  4. Fascinating, Jo! It’s a beautiful example of how to work your way up the social ladder from baillie to marquess in a century and a half. I gather that the British aristocracy has always been modestly flexible in this way, as potters become lords (the Wedgwoods) and their descendants disavow the title to become fiery liberal MPs.
    I suppose the coarse self-made man might be rooted in Heyer’s A CIVIL CONTRACT. And I think the term ‘self-made man’ has a special set of nuances in British English that it doesn’t have in American English.

    Reply
  5. Fascinating, Jo! It’s a beautiful example of how to work your way up the social ladder from baillie to marquess in a century and a half. I gather that the British aristocracy has always been modestly flexible in this way, as potters become lords (the Wedgwoods) and their descendants disavow the title to become fiery liberal MPs.
    I suppose the coarse self-made man might be rooted in Heyer’s A CIVIL CONTRACT. And I think the term ‘self-made man’ has a special set of nuances in British English that it doesn’t have in American English.

    Reply
  6. Wow, I love this story. Sort of a beat them at their own game kind of man. Very shrewd and classy. You have to admire a man like that. Proof that even grudging admiration for someone is STILL admiration. And I love the estate. Gorgeous. Thanks for such an intriguing post!

    Reply
  7. Wow, I love this story. Sort of a beat them at their own game kind of man. Very shrewd and classy. You have to admire a man like that. Proof that even grudging admiration for someone is STILL admiration. And I love the estate. Gorgeous. Thanks for such an intriguing post!

    Reply
  8. Wow, I love this story. Sort of a beat them at their own game kind of man. Very shrewd and classy. You have to admire a man like that. Proof that even grudging admiration for someone is STILL admiration. And I love the estate. Gorgeous. Thanks for such an intriguing post!

    Reply
  9. Wow, I love this story. Sort of a beat them at their own game kind of man. Very shrewd and classy. You have to admire a man like that. Proof that even grudging admiration for someone is STILL admiration. And I love the estate. Gorgeous. Thanks for such an intriguing post!

    Reply
  10. Wow, I love this story. Sort of a beat them at their own game kind of man. Very shrewd and classy. You have to admire a man like that. Proof that even grudging admiration for someone is STILL admiration. And I love the estate. Gorgeous. Thanks for such an intriguing post!

    Reply
  11. Jo, anything to do with old houses and their inhabitants fascinates me. I adore homes with interesting pasts. They’re almost like real characters.
    I loved seeing how the Aske Hall family moved from baronet in 1762, to a marquessate in 1892. I agree with Louisa, above, who said it was like beating them at their own game!

    Reply
  12. Jo, anything to do with old houses and their inhabitants fascinates me. I adore homes with interesting pasts. They’re almost like real characters.
    I loved seeing how the Aske Hall family moved from baronet in 1762, to a marquessate in 1892. I agree with Louisa, above, who said it was like beating them at their own game!

    Reply
  13. Jo, anything to do with old houses and their inhabitants fascinates me. I adore homes with interesting pasts. They’re almost like real characters.
    I loved seeing how the Aske Hall family moved from baronet in 1762, to a marquessate in 1892. I agree with Louisa, above, who said it was like beating them at their own game!

    Reply
  14. Jo, anything to do with old houses and their inhabitants fascinates me. I adore homes with interesting pasts. They’re almost like real characters.
    I loved seeing how the Aske Hall family moved from baronet in 1762, to a marquessate in 1892. I agree with Louisa, above, who said it was like beating them at their own game!

    Reply
  15. Jo, anything to do with old houses and their inhabitants fascinates me. I adore homes with interesting pasts. They’re almost like real characters.
    I loved seeing how the Aske Hall family moved from baronet in 1762, to a marquessate in 1892. I agree with Louisa, above, who said it was like beating them at their own game!

    Reply
  16. I love stories of old homes, especially estates like Aske Hall! Thanks for introducing us to another one. I, too, did not realize that C. Brown did any of his work indoors! 🙂 I look forward to “meeting” Aske Hall in its imaginary descendant when “The Unwilling Countess” comes out. (Who is she? Why is she unwilling? What sort of woman would be unwilling to become a countess? Who is her earl? So many questions to be answered just from the title! :))

    Reply
  17. I love stories of old homes, especially estates like Aske Hall! Thanks for introducing us to another one. I, too, did not realize that C. Brown did any of his work indoors! 🙂 I look forward to “meeting” Aske Hall in its imaginary descendant when “The Unwilling Countess” comes out. (Who is she? Why is she unwilling? What sort of woman would be unwilling to become a countess? Who is her earl? So many questions to be answered just from the title! :))

    Reply
  18. I love stories of old homes, especially estates like Aske Hall! Thanks for introducing us to another one. I, too, did not realize that C. Brown did any of his work indoors! 🙂 I look forward to “meeting” Aske Hall in its imaginary descendant when “The Unwilling Countess” comes out. (Who is she? Why is she unwilling? What sort of woman would be unwilling to become a countess? Who is her earl? So many questions to be answered just from the title! :))

    Reply
  19. I love stories of old homes, especially estates like Aske Hall! Thanks for introducing us to another one. I, too, did not realize that C. Brown did any of his work indoors! 🙂 I look forward to “meeting” Aske Hall in its imaginary descendant when “The Unwilling Countess” comes out. (Who is she? Why is she unwilling? What sort of woman would be unwilling to become a countess? Who is her earl? So many questions to be answered just from the title! :))

    Reply
  20. I love stories of old homes, especially estates like Aske Hall! Thanks for introducing us to another one. I, too, did not realize that C. Brown did any of his work indoors! 🙂 I look forward to “meeting” Aske Hall in its imaginary descendant when “The Unwilling Countess” comes out. (Who is she? Why is she unwilling? What sort of woman would be unwilling to become a countess? Who is her earl? So many questions to be answered just from the title! :))

    Reply
  21. Hi Jo. This was interesting. A lot of Regency writers leave the impression that the aristocracy were very much against working, but when one thinks about it the wealth had to come from some where. I seems that the Georgians of the 18th Century were quite happy to get their hands dirty in order for their families to live well. It seems that what goes around comes around and the aristocracy of the 20th-21st century are once again happy to engage in trade of one sort or another. I wonder if this is a pattern that can be traced through the ages.

    Reply
  22. Hi Jo. This was interesting. A lot of Regency writers leave the impression that the aristocracy were very much against working, but when one thinks about it the wealth had to come from some where. I seems that the Georgians of the 18th Century were quite happy to get their hands dirty in order for their families to live well. It seems that what goes around comes around and the aristocracy of the 20th-21st century are once again happy to engage in trade of one sort or another. I wonder if this is a pattern that can be traced through the ages.

    Reply
  23. Hi Jo. This was interesting. A lot of Regency writers leave the impression that the aristocracy were very much against working, but when one thinks about it the wealth had to come from some where. I seems that the Georgians of the 18th Century were quite happy to get their hands dirty in order for their families to live well. It seems that what goes around comes around and the aristocracy of the 20th-21st century are once again happy to engage in trade of one sort or another. I wonder if this is a pattern that can be traced through the ages.

    Reply
  24. Hi Jo. This was interesting. A lot of Regency writers leave the impression that the aristocracy were very much against working, but when one thinks about it the wealth had to come from some where. I seems that the Georgians of the 18th Century were quite happy to get their hands dirty in order for their families to live well. It seems that what goes around comes around and the aristocracy of the 20th-21st century are once again happy to engage in trade of one sort or another. I wonder if this is a pattern that can be traced through the ages.

    Reply
  25. Hi Jo. This was interesting. A lot of Regency writers leave the impression that the aristocracy were very much against working, but when one thinks about it the wealth had to come from some where. I seems that the Georgians of the 18th Century were quite happy to get their hands dirty in order for their families to live well. It seems that what goes around comes around and the aristocracy of the 20th-21st century are once again happy to engage in trade of one sort or another. I wonder if this is a pattern that can be traced through the ages.

    Reply
  26. I found this fascinating. I’ve often wondered at the writer’s need to have a titled hero, especially when Jane Austen took pains not to! In fact Austen and Thackeray portray the aristocracy as the uncouth and unmannerly antagonists. When I think of my most recently read historical romances there is only one untiled hero and he is the bastard son of an earl!

    Reply
  27. I found this fascinating. I’ve often wondered at the writer’s need to have a titled hero, especially when Jane Austen took pains not to! In fact Austen and Thackeray portray the aristocracy as the uncouth and unmannerly antagonists. When I think of my most recently read historical romances there is only one untiled hero and he is the bastard son of an earl!

    Reply
  28. I found this fascinating. I’ve often wondered at the writer’s need to have a titled hero, especially when Jane Austen took pains not to! In fact Austen and Thackeray portray the aristocracy as the uncouth and unmannerly antagonists. When I think of my most recently read historical romances there is only one untiled hero and he is the bastard son of an earl!

    Reply
  29. I found this fascinating. I’ve often wondered at the writer’s need to have a titled hero, especially when Jane Austen took pains not to! In fact Austen and Thackeray portray the aristocracy as the uncouth and unmannerly antagonists. When I think of my most recently read historical romances there is only one untiled hero and he is the bastard son of an earl!

    Reply
  30. I found this fascinating. I’ve often wondered at the writer’s need to have a titled hero, especially when Jane Austen took pains not to! In fact Austen and Thackeray portray the aristocracy as the uncouth and unmannerly antagonists. When I think of my most recently read historical romances there is only one untiled hero and he is the bastard son of an earl!

    Reply
  31. Sue, I think many readers love a title, and the heroine acquiring one through marriage is part of the fantasy of the romance.
    And possibly the reason why so many novels dwell on the social difficulties of up and coming/nouveau riche characters is that it makes for some interesting conflict. The boy from the wrong side of the tracks is so much more appealing than the boy next door.

    Reply
  32. Sue, I think many readers love a title, and the heroine acquiring one through marriage is part of the fantasy of the romance.
    And possibly the reason why so many novels dwell on the social difficulties of up and coming/nouveau riche characters is that it makes for some interesting conflict. The boy from the wrong side of the tracks is so much more appealing than the boy next door.

    Reply
  33. Sue, I think many readers love a title, and the heroine acquiring one through marriage is part of the fantasy of the romance.
    And possibly the reason why so many novels dwell on the social difficulties of up and coming/nouveau riche characters is that it makes for some interesting conflict. The boy from the wrong side of the tracks is so much more appealing than the boy next door.

    Reply
  34. Sue, I think many readers love a title, and the heroine acquiring one through marriage is part of the fantasy of the romance.
    And possibly the reason why so many novels dwell on the social difficulties of up and coming/nouveau riche characters is that it makes for some interesting conflict. The boy from the wrong side of the tracks is so much more appealing than the boy next door.

    Reply
  35. Sue, I think many readers love a title, and the heroine acquiring one through marriage is part of the fantasy of the romance.
    And possibly the reason why so many novels dwell on the social difficulties of up and coming/nouveau riche characters is that it makes for some interesting conflict. The boy from the wrong side of the tracks is so much more appealing than the boy next door.

    Reply
  36. I’m looking forward to The Unlikely Countess the way I do other Jo Bev books. I still have two recently reissued books to acquire. Jo, your books are keepers and I re-read them at least every other year. I especially love the Mallorens. Maybe you’ll consider another continuation?

    Reply
  37. I’m looking forward to The Unlikely Countess the way I do other Jo Bev books. I still have two recently reissued books to acquire. Jo, your books are keepers and I re-read them at least every other year. I especially love the Mallorens. Maybe you’ll consider another continuation?

    Reply
  38. I’m looking forward to The Unlikely Countess the way I do other Jo Bev books. I still have two recently reissued books to acquire. Jo, your books are keepers and I re-read them at least every other year. I especially love the Mallorens. Maybe you’ll consider another continuation?

    Reply
  39. I’m looking forward to The Unlikely Countess the way I do other Jo Bev books. I still have two recently reissued books to acquire. Jo, your books are keepers and I re-read them at least every other year. I especially love the Mallorens. Maybe you’ll consider another continuation?

    Reply
  40. I’m looking forward to The Unlikely Countess the way I do other Jo Bev books. I still have two recently reissued books to acquire. Jo, your books are keepers and I re-read them at least every other year. I especially love the Mallorens. Maybe you’ll consider another continuation?

    Reply
  41. Hi Jo, your articles are always fascinating and I particularly enjoy your novels set in Yorkshire. My sister, who lives in Surrey, and I (I live in Australia) spent a lovely week visiting York, the dales and the Yorkshire coast. Whitby is beautiful and I had no idea that Australia and New Zealand had a connection to the town until we saw the statue of Capt. James Cook. I am enjoying your reissues at the moment and have just finished ‘The Stolen Bride’.

    Reply
  42. Hi Jo, your articles are always fascinating and I particularly enjoy your novels set in Yorkshire. My sister, who lives in Surrey, and I (I live in Australia) spent a lovely week visiting York, the dales and the Yorkshire coast. Whitby is beautiful and I had no idea that Australia and New Zealand had a connection to the town until we saw the statue of Capt. James Cook. I am enjoying your reissues at the moment and have just finished ‘The Stolen Bride’.

    Reply
  43. Hi Jo, your articles are always fascinating and I particularly enjoy your novels set in Yorkshire. My sister, who lives in Surrey, and I (I live in Australia) spent a lovely week visiting York, the dales and the Yorkshire coast. Whitby is beautiful and I had no idea that Australia and New Zealand had a connection to the town until we saw the statue of Capt. James Cook. I am enjoying your reissues at the moment and have just finished ‘The Stolen Bride’.

    Reply
  44. Hi Jo, your articles are always fascinating and I particularly enjoy your novels set in Yorkshire. My sister, who lives in Surrey, and I (I live in Australia) spent a lovely week visiting York, the dales and the Yorkshire coast. Whitby is beautiful and I had no idea that Australia and New Zealand had a connection to the town until we saw the statue of Capt. James Cook. I am enjoying your reissues at the moment and have just finished ‘The Stolen Bride’.

    Reply
  45. Hi Jo, your articles are always fascinating and I particularly enjoy your novels set in Yorkshire. My sister, who lives in Surrey, and I (I live in Australia) spent a lovely week visiting York, the dales and the Yorkshire coast. Whitby is beautiful and I had no idea that Australia and New Zealand had a connection to the town until we saw the statue of Capt. James Cook. I am enjoying your reissues at the moment and have just finished ‘The Stolen Bride’.

    Reply

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