Visit to Escrick & Wheldrake.
Saturday, 2nd June 2018
Thursday’s visit to Escrick and Wheldrake was a great success, not least because of our guide, retired teacher and historian, Mr Sam Taylor. The weather was warm and cloudy, with occasional sunny intervals.
Escrick Hall is now St Margaret’s School, where Mr Taylor was a Master. The present building began a relatively modest house for Henry Thompson in the 1680s and was enlarged first by John Carr in the eighteenth century and by Edward Blore in the nineteenth. The house has some fine surviving eighteenth century details , particularly the ceiling of the headmistresses study.
The “school dinner” we were given, belly pork followed by fruit crumble, was of a remarkably high standard and quite unlike anything any of us had experienced in our own school days. After dinner we had a brief tour of the grounds, including a nineteenth century pond that was uncovered when some trees were removed and a pair of eighteenth century ice houses.
St Helen’s Church in the village of Escrick was built to the designs of Francis Penrose in 1856/7, and refurbished in the 1920s by John Bilson after a fire. Penrose was Surveyor of the Fabric of St Paul’s Cathedral and President of the RIBA, but built relatively little. The church has a polygonal baptistery at its west end containing monuments to the Thompson family from the Georgian Church which previously stood on the site. Of particular note is a fine bass relief of Jane, Lady Lawley, by the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorwaldsen.
We finished our day with coffee at St Helen’s Church in Wheldrake. The church was rebuilt in the 1770s but retains its mediaeval tower. The interior was de-Victorianised in the 1970s, when the present clear glass was inserted and the woodwork painted a pale colour.