Grimston Park Estate History


Nearby lies the site of the battle of Towton, fought on Palm Sunday 1461 and the bloodiest battle fought on English soil. Over 20,000 died and it was a pivotal event in the Wars of the Roses, being a victory for the Yorkists.

Early Grimston

The land around Grimston Park has been almost continuously occupied since Roman and Celtic times (there are two unexcavated Roman villas on the estate). The name Grimston is of Viking origin and means the tun or plot of Grim, a common Viking name. At the time of the Norman Conquest the manor was held by Wulfsi, undoubtedly a Viking. On the conquest the land passed to Ilbert de Lacy, a Norman warlord who held much of what is now West Yorkshire. Later owners included the Vavasours and Fairfaxes. In the 17th century the Stanhope family owned the mansion and entertained James I of England in 1603 on his way to be crowned in London.

In 1812 the estate was bought from the Townend family by Sir John Francis Cradock, the first Lord Howden, who had been ADC to the Duke of Wellington. He died in 1839 and his son the second Lord Howden then commissioned the architect Decimus Burton to rebuild the John Carr-designed house at Grimston Park for himself and his bride, Princess Catherine Bagration, widow of Prince Bagration and the grand-niece of Prince Potemkin. She was known for her beauty and outrageous behaviour.

Burton’s brief was to recreate the old house in an Italianate style and he did this imaginatively with an Ionic porte cochere on one side and colonnades and a verandah on the other. He designed a conservatory (similar to those he provided for Kew Gardens, though somewhat smaller) and an Observatory Tower in the park. In the stable yard he erected a vast Riding School so that the Princess could ride around under cover.

Lord Howden

Lord Londesborough

1850 Onwards

The Howdens divorced in 1850 and the house and estate was sold to Albert Denison the first Lord Londesborough in 1851. He commissioned William Nesfield to design the ornamental gardens with elegant statuary. On his death the property passed to his son the second Lord Londesborough, who had an extravagant lifestyle and hosted several large parties including the Volunteer Festival in 1864. In 1872 the estate was sold to the Fielden family in whose hands it remains.

In 1980 the estate sold the Mansion after several years of occupation by a variety of tenants and it has since been converted into 13 separate residences.