Sutton Scarsdale Hall

Sutton Scarsdale Hall - Mono Landscapes
The current Sutton Scarsdale Hall was built in in 1724 and is quite possibly the fourth structure to be built on the site. A hall has stood here for over a thousand years and records go as far back as an estate owned by the Saxon Wulfric Spott. He died in 1002 and bequeathed the estate to Burton-on-Trent Abbey. In 1086, the estate was owned by Roger de Poitou and in 1225, the Lordship of Sutton-in-the-Dale was handed to Peter de Hareston by Henry III.

By 1401, the estate had been bought by John Leke and would remain in the Leke family for over 300 years. In 1640 Francis Leke was elevated to Earl of Scarsdale by Charles I and he opted for the Royalists during the English Civil War. The neighbouring Bolsover Castle being with the Parliamentarians, meant that it was only a matter of time before conflict arose and the hall was besieged by John Gell and a Parliamentary force of 500 men. They eventually stormed the house, took Francis Leke prisoner and seized the estate, which was returned on payment of a fine of £18,000. Following the execution of Charles I, Francis Leke is said to have been so distraught that he had a grave dug in the grounds of the hall, which he would lay in every Friday dressed in sack-cloth.

In 1724, the hall was rebuilt by Nicholas Leke, designed by Francis Smith, utilising parts of the old hall. The estate was put up for sale to repay debts and bought by Godfrey Bagnall Smith in 1740. Upon his death in 1774, it was passed to the Marquis of Ormonde.

The Arkwright family took possession of the hall in 1824, Richard Arkwright Jnr (son of Richard Arkwright of Cromford Mill fame) becoming the owner. The Arkwright family remained in residence until 1919, when William Arkwright sold the estate via auction to a group of Chesterfield businessmen who promptly asset stripped the hall and sold much of the interior. The newspaper William Randolph Hearst bought the oak panelling of one room. After many years in storage, it was later bought by Pall Mall Films and used as a set. Another room's panelling now resides in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

A popular legend attached to the house is that Nicholas Leke (an earlier Leke than Nicholas the 4th Earl of Scarsdale) was summoned to the Crusades* and before leaving had his ring broken into two halves, giving one half to his wife. He was captured and imprisoned for many years but one night was picked up by a rushing wind, which dropped him at the door of St Mary's Church, next to the hall. At first, no one recognised the bedraggled Nicholas until his half of the ring was shown to his wife and they were finally re-united. It is the ghost of Lady Leke who is said to glide between the hall and the church, sobbing for her husband.

* As the hall only came into the possession of the Leke family in the early 15th century, it is unlikely that Nicholas Leke was summoned to the Crusades, as these ended in the late 13th century.

Storm Clouds over Hartshead Church

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