The Swinton Estate land title has been in the ownership of the Cunliffe-Lister family since the 1880’s, when Samuel Cunliffe-Lister bought the estate on retiring from his mill in Bradford, Manningham Mills.
His grand-daughter Molly and husband Philip Lloyd-Graeme then took the family name on inheriting the estate and the family home, Swinton Park the Grade II* castle. Philip – 1st Viscount, was appointed Earl of Swinton in 1955.
Molly’s grandson Nicholas is the 3rd Earl of Swinton, and his son Mark is the Baron of Masham. Mark is now responsible for the running of the Estate and with his wife, Felicity, converted the family home into a hotel in 2001.
The house as it appears now, from the east behind the great gates or from the south from a distance is the beau ideal, of a large castellated mansion.
In fact the romantic dress was thrown over it only in the 1820’s, and what existed before has to be pieced together from surprisingly scant published evidence.
There was a house here, typical of it’s appearance of the late c17th: of five bays and three stories, with a top balustrade and a belvedere turret.
An almost undecorated uncompromising block, in fact, despite its appearance, early c18th; for John Warburton in 1719 called it “new built”.
Of that block more survives than one would hazard at first guess. It hides behind the porte-cochere and tower at the East end of the South range, and it faces thus, the splendid East Gates of c1740-50s. They have three entrances, a broken pediment and alternating vermiculated rustication.
Inside, of the early house, the present White Room with its paneling exists, and the secondary staircase with its early Georgian balusters. But the glazed lantern is late c18th, and thus belongs to the great enlargement of c1800 by James Wyatt for William Danby.
Wyatt added behind the old house a spacious south range with a wide bow window belonging to a large drawing room, two rooms left and right, and a long corridor behind, ending to the north in a splendid staircase, with an octagonal lantern above it.
Even before Wyatt a long range had been added to the west with the ground-floor windows in blank arches, and also the stables with their thirteen-bay front, facing the east side of the south range across the ample courtyard.
Then, in 1821-4. Robert Luger was called in, and he re-arranged much inside, added a story to the Wyatt range. Castellated everything, gave turrets to the west range, and, above all, provided the big round tower (with an elegant circular vestibule inside) and the porte-cochere in front of it.
Behind the west range and the stables further west, running west-east, is an outbuilding of six bays and two and a half-stories, which from its style must be contemporary with the earliest block, and may be earlier.
Neales Seats, 1828, says ‘about 30 years since’. The book also says the work was by Wyatt and Foss, alderman of Richmond, Mr Colvin suggests that he took over when Wyatt died to 1813.
For another gives 1813 as the date of the design of the south range. The staircase was mentioned in 1890, and other redecorating, was done at the same time.
LOW SWINTON. A farmhouse of the late c17th. Front of five bays with two-light mullioned windows. Small staircase with twisted balusters. Paneling in one room, including pilasters.
SWINTON BRIDGE, on the road to Masham. One arch; two niches in the supports.
QUARRY GILL BRIDGE, 1 ½ miles of Swinton Park, The bridge was built by William Danby in 1832. It has three steep pointed arches and bankments. To its west is an apsed rocky seat with an inscription. Deep down below, the old PACK-HORSE BRIDGE, now covered in grass and bracken.
DRUIDS’ TEMPLE, 2 1/2 m. wsw of Swinton Park. A copy of Stonehenge, also provided by William Danby.
The countryside on the Estate comprises approximately 63 miles of public footpaths and bridle-paths with car parking available at Nutwith Woods, Druid’s Temple, Gollinglith Foot, Leighton Reservoir, Roomer Common, Ellington Firth and Masham Town Square.
Maps and walking routes are available from reception at both Swinton Park and Swinton Bivouac.