Lotherton Hall: when a house smells of Edwardiana (Yorkshire)

Reason to visit: I learned at this house that I can smell periods of history.  I learned that no matter how many neoclassical designs are applied to a structure, the smell of the materials and building products used to construct a Georgian house are so well known to my nose that I can smell out a fake.

I was hoping that Lotherton Hall was Georgian.  It is only 15 minutes’ drive from Temple Newsam and entry is also free with the Art Fund card, so off we went (with my hopes and dreams waiting to be shattered).

It is not Georgian.  The Georgian wing was pulled down.  What we have here is an Edwardian gentleman’s house with its fair share of 1920s furniture, some ceramic collections (including an Asian ceramics room which I would have been impressed with but I live in Central London and so have the British Museum and the V&A’s collection to go and salivate over), and some interesting paper mache furniture.

The entrance is later than the house and to the side, the gardens outshine the interiors (they are very nice), and someone needs to rip off the pebble dash and open the shutters a bit more often (I nearly fainted when I saw how many cobwebs and how much mold had been allowed to build up in one of the windows).

This house is a good lesson in building houses (especially in Yorkshire) with a strong south-facing aspect and making the house U-shaped (so maybe Temple Newsam is a lesson to us in this regard?) to ensure each room is warmed and the damp kept at bay.  The architect didn’t engage his brain in this regard and so the house feels cold and damp at the back, the front baked with the sun and the parquet floor buckling.

To the side of this council-run house is a bird garden and a decent play area.  D ‘took up the offer’ of some cake and juice as one of the rooms of the house was being used for an art exhibition and a showing was about to start.

The price is all-inclusive of entry to the house, garden and play area.

There is a shop and a café.  It was all a bit weird and I’m not sure I need to go back because there was nothing to see that I hadn’t seen before (and I can go to Harewood House if I’m near Leeds and fancy looking at some birds).  Perhaps this is the type of house that ought to have either been pulled down or remained in private hands and the council shouldn’t have accepted it.

When visited: July 2012

House * out of 5: **

Garden * out of 5: ***

Website: http://www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/Pages/Lotherton-Hall.aspx

Theme tune: Faulty Tours theme tune.  This would be a good location for a Miss Marple episode.

Further reading: The History of Lotherton Hall[1].

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