Parlington Hall :: Huddlestone Quarry

Huddlestone Estate

The marriage of Sir Edward Gascoigne was instrumental in bringing, some years later, the Hungate estate into the Gascoigne family. This inclusion brought about, almost a century later, a famous law suit. [See Note below].

One of the assets of the estate was the quarry at Huddlestone [Also called Huddleston, Hudereston, and Huderston over the centuries] and although Parlington enjoyed local mineral extraction, the quality of the stone from Huddlestone was renouned. In fact it was so well regarded that Sir Edward donated paving for York Minster in 1736, a reference in a book by John Britton, titled The history and antiquities of the metropolitical church of York, gives details on page 33 [Available at Google Book Search here ]

Westminster Hall & Huddlestone

Even more significant was the use of stone from Huddlestone in the interior walls of the refurbishment of Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster in 1836 following the disatrous fire. Again John Britton and co-author Edward Wedlake Brayley (Fellows of the society of Antiquaries) have recorded for us details of the work at the Hall and on page 441 is the reference to Huddlestone. ... Shortly before the occurance of ther late fire, it had been determined to renovate the internal stone-work of the Hall; and this has been most effectually and skillfully executed under the direction of Sir Robert Smirke. The old facings of the walls were cut away, and their place is supplied by a beautiful ashlaring of Huddlestone stone, six inches in thickness.* The surmounting cornice and corbels, with all the armourial devices and sculptures connected with them, have been renewed, in exact correspondence with the originial work. The great south window, with the elegant niches to the right and left, and all the lower windows on the east and west sides, have likewise been completely restored. The floor also, (the ground having been lowered about twelve inches) has been entirely new-paved with York Landings, in uniform lines, each stone being nearly two feet square.

Book on Westminster Hall

The following is from the footnote on the page. *The stone has been obtained from a quarry on the estate of R. O. Gascoigne esq. at Parlington near Leeds; which appears to have been wrought two centuries ago, and was recently brought into fresh notice by the opening made on account of the Leeds and Selby railway.

I wonder if the Gascoigne family in the twentieth century were aware that a quarry in their ownership had provided stone to such auspicious buildings as York Minster and Westminster Hall? If they had time to reflect they may also have noticed that the block fronted by the large semi-circular bay was also of Huddlestone stone, as it was built for Sir Edward Gascoigne in the 1730's.

Quarry at Huddlestone from Edmund Bogg

The quarry nowadays is the location of a riding stables I believe, but it was for many centuries a one of the most famous quarries in the land. The picture below is from Edmund Bogg's Round about Leeds and the Old Villages in Elmete, published in 1904.

Huddlestone Quarry

Bogg states: Huddleston is also interesting by reason of its great limestone quarry, famed for building purposes - the best and most durable in Yorkshire - whence the great use of this stone in the construction of cathedrals, castles, and the surrounding churches and manor-houses. Thoresby says: 'The quarry at Huddleston is also a delicate stone and has this peculiarity in it, that when the stone is new dug out it is so soft that it may be cut or wrought with a knife, but afterwards hardens with exposure to the air, the colour is also pure white, so that not only chimney pieces, but monuments in churches are made; it is little inferior to marble.' The antiquairy's description is to the point, Huddleston quarries (Celtic: ceraig, rock) can easily be detected by their hardness and silvery whiteness. Tradition reports that Bishop Dyke, reaching from Sherburn to Cawood, was made deeper and wider and its course cut straight by the Archbishops, so that stone from this quarry might be floated down on rafts to Cawood and thence by boat to York. In 1358 the Dean and Chapter of York took Huddleston delph on a lease for a period of eighty years and afterwards for another period of nineteen years. This quarry is said to have been known and used by the Romans.

Clearly the quarry at Huddlestone deserves a section here. But I can conclude from the details offered by Bogg and his recount of Thoresby, that the stone may well be hard when free to the air, but if it reverted back to a permanent wet state, or even long damp periods, we might find it less than durable. Could the use of creeper over the external walls at Parlington have hastened its decline, far more so than had the stone been of sandstone found further west in the Pennines? Is this the reason that the semi-circular bay of Parlington had sandstone cornices and window jambs, heads and cills? Whereas the bulk of the circular stone is in the white Huddlestone limestone.

Bay Window

I have visited Aberford House on the Main Street [Old Great North Road] opposite St Ricarius church in Aberford, it is of the time when Sir Edward Gascoigne added the Ye East Room as he called it, and it was also a Gascoigne property into the twentieth century. The entrance hall is paved with a white limestone, in squares with the corners chamfered to allow a black 6" square corner stone to be inset at the junction of each four pavings. It is clearly from Huddlestone, and is softer than its neighbour in the floor, the black stone, as the floor has a sculptured soft valley towards the centre of each pice of limestone, perhaps up to ¼" in depth.

Another notable building with the same flooring is Garforth House, Micklegate, York. Attributed to the famous York Architect John Carr, who coincidentally is also attributed as designing the Hook Moor Lodges at Parlington, small world!

Huddlestone Hall

The article here is worth enhancing with a picture of Huddlestone Hall taken from afar with a long lens.

Huddlestone Hall

Eleanor Cross, Charing Cross, London

On a final note about Huddlestone Quarry, from the book by John Ashurst and Francis G Dimes (see note below), titled: Conservation of building and decorative stone. Huddlestone Stone from Yorkshire, is minutely cellular (micro-oolitic) or finely granular and pale grey to cream coloured. It was used widely and may be seen in York Minster, Selby Cathedral and Huddlestone Hall. It was teamed with Red Mansfield Stone, a dolomitic sandstone, for the original Eleanor Cross, Charing Cross London. The famous Eleanor or Norman crosses were erected after 1290 by Edward 1 on his way to Westminster with the body of his wife Eleanor of Castile. He erected a memorial cross at each place where his wife's body rested for the night. An article is here on Wikipedia although it does not mention the Huddlestone stone but attributes the Charing Cross to Alexander of Abingdon who produced a work in marble, perhaps this was a later monument?

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