Bramham Park is an astonishing Baroque mansion, little-known outside of Yorkshire.
Built in 1698, it has remained in the ownership of Robert Benson's descendants since its completion in 1710. Bramham is very much the product of the grand tour
; its creator Robert Benson, later Lord Bingley, completed his formal education with a grand tour in 1697, and whilst in Italy he began to envisage his new mansion in the Palladian manner complemented in a landscaped park, in the fashion popular in France in the late 17th century. Remarkably it seems likely that the house was designed by Benson himself. The interior of Bramham Park was completely restored in the early part of the 20th century, having mostly been abandoned after a fire of 1828. However, it is still a remarkably sensitive restoration showing the capacity of Edwardian craftsmen to draw on the early English eighteenth-century tradition with bravura. The central Great Hall, double storey in height and severe in its Baroque design, still bears the smoke staining on its stone walls.
Farnley Hall consists of the original early seventeenth-century house and the additions made to it in the 1780s by Carr of York. The result is a highly pleasing combination, which drew even the praise of Ruskin who called it ‘a unique place, there is nothing like it in the world.’ Ruskin’s interest in the house arose from his interest in Turner; between 1808–1824 Farnley was a second home to Turner and he painted it several times. Nicholas Horton-Fawkes owned and carefully restored the house until his death in 2011 and the house today is testament to his dedication and passion. Lunch is included.