Sutton Hall -

Go to content

Sutton Hall

Local History > Local History 1 > Sutton Cum Duckmanton
Sutton Hall.

The original Hall which formed part of a Saxon estate was left to the monks of Burton in the will of Wulfric Spott in the year 1002 and the Lordship of Sutton in the Dale was given to the family of Peter de Hareson by Henry III in 1255.

By far the most famous of the Sutton families in its thousand year history were the Lekes (Leakes), who with ten generations owned the hall and its estates for three hundred and thirty three years. The family were always loyal to the crown, but this allegiance was at times costly, both in terms of money and in human life.

Sir Francis Leke was one of these men, he was Earl Scarsdale at the time of the English Civil War and was one of the loyal supporters of King Charles. He lost two sons in the war and as a result of his support for the king he was fined £18,000 to restore his estates after they were sequestrated by Oliver Cromwell this was paid by his friends. The family’s royalist support did have its rewards, John Leke was Knighted by Henry VIII at Lille. Sir Francis Leke was created Baronet by James I in 1611, made Lord Deincourt in 1624 and Earl Scarsdale just prior to the Civil War.

As Lord Deincourt was a Royalist during the Civil War the original hall was then fortified to defend against attack from the Cromwellian army. A force of some 500 men and three guns under the command of Colonel Thomas Gell besieged Sutton Hall but Lord Deincourt refused to surrender. The house was eventually taken by storm, the defences removed and Lord Deincourt taken prisoner. He was summoned to appear before parliament at Derby, this he refused to do and he joined the Kings forces at Newark instead.

After the execution of Charles I in 1649 Lord Deincourt was very disillusioned and had his grave dug and after clothing himself in sackcloth each Friday evening would lie in the grave to pray and meditate.

The brother of John Leke, Thomas, had a daughter Elizabeth who married John Hardwick and was the mother of 'Bess of Hardwick' the prolific builder of other local stately homes.

The present hall which overlooks the picturesque Scarsdale Valley to the north and east was built on the site of the existing hall and used much of the materials and structure of the old hall by the fourth and last Earl Scarsdale, Nicholas Leke in 1720, with the assistance of the architect Francis Smith of Warwick. The earl died whilst heavily in debt due to the lavish rebuilding of the hall he had undertaken. The hall and all its estates were purchased by Godfrey Clarke of Somersall whose son Godfrey was lord of the manor until 1786.

The hall was twice owned by men who adopted their wives names to continue the family line of ownership of the house, its estates and titles. Edward Hilary took his wife’s name of Grey and Job Hart Price took his wife’s name Clarke.

In 1820 after Anne Price and Walter Butler died without any heirs the hall was sold to the son of the entrepreneur and inventor of the spinning frame Sir Richard Arkwright, Richard Arkwright who lived at Willersly Castle. There were now four branches of the Arkwright family. Sutton, Willersly Castle, Hampton Court in County Hereford and Knutston Hall in County Northampton, the squires of Sutton being the senior branch,

The Ark wrights owned the hall and estates and suffered mixed fortunes until 1919 when the hall, lands and buildings were sold at auction by William Arkwright. It is said that William suffered a horrendous fall from a horse in his younger days and was a cripple thereafter. He sold the estates to move to the warmer climes of southern England on the proceeds. The 'Hall and Grounds', lot number 37 was withdrawn from the auction at £12,600, the bidding having started at £8,000.

The hall was not sold until the 1920's when the building firm of Haslam Ltd. Purchased the hall to demolish it and use for building materials. The Adams fireplaces which were inlaid with Blue John were stripped from the house and sent to America to a Philadelphia museum along with the ornate staircases, where they still are today. The roof was stripped of lead, the ornate ceilings which were designed by some of the finest Italian craftsmen were removed to take out the wooden joists and some of the stone was used to build houses in the Somersall and Brampton area, leaving only the shell of this once proud Georgian building.

In 1946 the building had deteriorated to such an extent that it was planned to demolish it, three days before the demolition machinery were due to move in on the hall the shell was saved for eternity by the purchase of the hall by Sir Osbert Sitwell who was persuaded to act by a local resident Harold Taylor. The hall was later given over to the Department of the environment in the late 1960's. In 1971 emergency repairs were started to secure the building from further decay.

The cost of this work was estimated at around £30,000, the money was secured for the work to begin. (£5,000 was forthcoming from the Derbyshire County Council) and later during 1992 the building was finally secured and the plaster mouldings left after the removal of the ceilings and fireplaces were sealed and preserved and secure ornate iron bars were placed in all the window mullions and it is now possible to walk inside the shell of a building 'which is the finest of its type and era in the Midlands'.

The Hall is unusual in so much as it has three formal facades the fourth being the church. This meant that the hall could be viewed from three of the four sides, unlike many other houses of the period.

The Church of Saint Mary’s.

The church of St. Mary’s is built on to the side of the hall and it consists of a chancel, nave, north aisle, south porch and a western tower. It appears to have been rebuilt between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

There are several memorials within the church, a marble tablet in the chancel as a memorial to Francis Pierrepont the grandson of Robert the Earl of Kingston who died in 1707. There are two post reformation monuments bearing crosses and dedicated to the memory of the Redfearnes of Duckmanton. The monuments and stained glass windows dedicated to the Leek’s and earlier owners are no longer there. With the exception of one inscribed stain glass window which reads, Leake-Beresford-Hassal. In 1710 it was reported that every window in the church was decorated with this inscription.

The ceilings of the north aisle once housed five coats of arms.

Leake Impaling Savage.
Leake Impaling Foljambe.
Foljambe impaling Leake.
Waterton Impaling Leake.

The tower is fifteenth century and contains a peal of four inscribed bells.

Resonabe in honore Dei
God save the King 1666
In Honore St. Gebrielis
God save the Church 1623

The pulpit is a memorial to the Reverend M.M.Humble who was the priest for fifty years. In the churchyard is a Celtic Cross and there are several monuments to the Arkwright family.

There have been several interesting finds within the church during modern restoration of the interior.

Ancient wall paintings. 1933.
Ancient wall paintings. 1966.
Old church carvings. 1967.

The churchyard contains several anecdotal memorials carved on headstones which can be found if you search hard enough.

The Parish of Sutton in the Dale.

Domesday Survey.

From the Domesday survey of Derbyshire Circa. 1086 for Sudtune.
In Sudtune Stienulf had four carucates of land for geld and land for five ploughs.
The Lord has one plough there, and six villanes and one bordar with one plough.
One mill of fifteen shillings is there and eight acres of meadow and wood pasturable, half a mile in length, and three or four furlongs in bredth.

A curucate of land was a year’s work using one plough.
Geld land was land which provided a revenue or tax for state support.
Villanes were holders of mixed tenure lands.
Bordars were cottage holders whose homesteads or bards with small pieces of land attached to them were conditional upon performing certain tasks for the Lord of the Manor.

Manorial Tenure.

1086 Roger Poicton, apparently reverted to the crown.
1255 Peter de Hareston, by grant of Henry III.
Robert de Hareston.
1297 Richard de Grey of Sandiacre, by marriage with Lucia the heiress daughter of Robert, whose sister was mother to Richard.
William de Grey.
1316 John de Grey.
William de Grey.
1390 Edward Hilary, by marriage with Alice the daughter and heiress of William, who took the name Grey.
John de Grey.
1401-2 John Leke of Gotham.
1457 William Leke married Cathrine Chaworth.
John Leke married Elizabeth Savage. (Thomas his brother had a daughter Elizabeth, who married John Hardwick and was mother to 'Bess of Hardwick').
Sir John Leke Married Jane Foljambe.
1569 Sir Francis Leke married Elizabeth Paston.
Francis Leke married Frances Swift.
Sir Francis Leke married Anne Carey and was created Baron Deincourt and Earl Scarsdale.
Nicholas , Earl Scarsdale married Frances Rich.
Robert the third Earl Scarsdale married Mary Lewys, who was succeeded by his nephew.
Nicholas the fourth and last Earl Scarsdale died in 1735 without issue.
1735 Purchased by Godfrey Clarke of Somersall.
Godfrey Clarke.
1786 Job Hart Price by marriage with the sister of Godfrey Walter Butler, Marquis of Ormond by marriage with the daughter and heiress of Price.
1824 Richard Arkwright J.P. D.L. of Willersly Castle, by purchase. Married Mary Simpson of Bonsall.
1848 Robert Arkwright J.P. D.L. of Sutton Hall. Married Frances Crawford Kemble of Durham.
1859 William Arkwright of Sutton Hall. Married Agnes Mary Cocks the niece of Lord Somers.

Sutton Hall Prior to the Auction in 1919.

'The Hall is well situate on high ground with fine views, and is a handsome classical building with fine elevations, built of stone with a lead and slate roof'.

With 594 acres of land attached to the Hall.

Information from the 1919 Sale Catalogue of the Sutton Estate by Thurgood and Martin. Surveyors, Land Agents and Auctioneers, 77 Chancery Lane, London W.C.2.

Hall and Grounds.

TOP FLOOR. Nine bedrooms, box room, clock room and a back staircase down to the ground floor.

FIRST FLOOR. Approached by a wide oak staircase and a secondary staircase from the centre and inner halls. Landing, ballroom with oak carved ornamentation and gold and white decor with coved ceilings and columns. Six principle bedrooms, five secondary bedrooms and eight smaller ones. Three dressing rooms, four bathrooms four toilets, housemaid’s cupboard and an iron spiral emergency staircase to the ground floor.

GROUND FLOOR. Entrance hall and two inner halls. Two drawing rooms, dining room, strong room, morning room, smoking room library, lavatory and toilet, billiard room and adjoining lavatory. Servants hall, housekeepers room, servants sitting room, butlers pantry with silver closet, kitchen, scullery, three larders, laundry, four store rooms, drying room boot room, gun room and lamp room.

COURTYARD AND OUTBUILDINGS. Bake house, wash house, dairy, oil and fuel stores, lean-to greenhouse, stone built brew house containing nine storage rooms.

STABLES. (Built of stone and slate). Thirteen stalls, six loose boxes, two harness rooms and three store rooms with seven rooms above. Large coach house and garage fitted with furnace, boiler and hot water pipings Four estate office rooms and stable yard.

ESTATE WORKSHOPS, PARK BUILDINGS. Boat house, deer barn, Ice house, Park Kennels, Poultry house, four loose boxes and paddock, three stores. carpenters shop, paint shop, saw lodge and engine house, stable with two stalls and loft over, two loose boxes and small yard, cow lodge for twelve cows, fodder store, two implement and wagon sheds, Dutch barn, nine dog kennels, large yard and covered stock yard. Finely timbered deer park with avenue and well stocked fish ponds and plantation grounds. Terraced pleasure gardens with archery, Croquet and tennis lawns, octagon gardens, cedar garden, gold and silver borders and an Italian Yew Pergola.

WALLED KITCHEN GARDEN. With fruit trees, six hot houses and Cucumber pit frame heated from two furnaces, five cold frames and Alpine house, brick built Bothy, three bedrooms, kitchen, wash house, and earth closet, fruit store, mushroom house, tool and potting shed. Adjoining the kitchen garden are the kennels, brick built (on arches) and slate roofed with fourteen kennels, dog hospital. Fuel store, food building store with water laid on.

The Legend of Sir Nicholas Leke.

As told in 'Old Halls, Manors and Families of Derbyshire'.
J.Tilley.1899 Vol. III. P210.
The Scarsdale Hundred.

'There was a Sir Nicholas Leke (so the tradition says), who was a Crusader and who, before he started for the Holy Land broke a ring with his wife each retaining half, as a token of each others love and fidelity. When among the Saracens he was taken prisoner'. Keeping him hostage for a ransom as they supposed him to be a very wealthy man. 'And kept for many years. As he lay in his dungeon one night he prayed to the Virgin that he might see his beloved Sutton once more, if only in a dream but as he awoke that morning he was sitting within the porch of the church where his prayers had so often commingled with his wife's in days long long ago, and close to his home. But the servants spurned him, in his rags and filth, from the door and knew him not. Then he sent in the tiny fragment of ring to his lady, and soon a head, whitened by winters of hope deferred, was nestling on his breast'.

The 'Legend' of Sir Nicholas Leke is one that in a way cannot be put into historical context, as the man to whom it relates was not born until the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603) and we also know that the Lekes were not holding Sutton Hall and its estates until after the fourth and last Crusade. There was at this time no Sir Nicholas Leke in the senior line of the house, but this does not mean he did not exist at that time as he may have been a fifth or sixth son of the line before it ceased to be of Nottinghamshire.

One thing that is true however, is that Sir Nicholas Leke left a dole of loaves (a charitable gift of bread) to the poor. 'As a testimony of his gratitude for his marvellous escape'. The gift only ceased with the death of the fourth and last Earl of Scarsdale.

The dole left by his will was for eight bushels of wheat to be baked into loaves and given out to the poor people of Sutton, Duckmanton and Temple Normanton on Saint Nicholas' Day forever. The dole was further increased to between eighteen and twenty loads of wheat baked and given to the poor. The loaves weighed around two and a half pounds each and were stamped with the letter 'N'.

An heir of Sir Nicholas once neglected to comply with the provisions of his will and on the 'morrow of Saint Nicholas' day' a deep well situated between the hall and the church overflowed and did a considerable amount of damage in the vicinity as its level continued to rise. The conscious stricken heir immediately ordered the ovens to be lit and the dole baked, henceforth the water in the well subsided.

The Ghost of Sutton Hall.

During the latter half of the 1960's Sutton Hall was the centre of a ghostly enigma. A Bolsover man and his son reported seeing a ghostly apparition early in the morning moving between the church of St. Mary’s and the hall, the 'white lady' was seen gliding through the churchyard without legs, wearing a white hood with slits for eyes and crying like a baby or sobbing like a woman.

When interviewed the vicar of Saint Mary’s church, the Reverend Stanley Hare said, "It flies through the bushes and makes very weird noises at night and could very well frighten anybody".

Two questions automatically spring to mind, was it an owl?

What were the Bolsover man and his son doing there in the early hours of the morning?

Floor plans by English Heritage.

Entrance Hall 1919

Entrance Hall & Stairway 1919

The Oak Room & Fireplace with Portrait of Mrs. Robert Arkwright.



Mrs F.C. Arkwright nee Frances Crawford Kemble of Durham.
Born in 1785. Married Robert Arkwright 27/06/1805. Died 10/03/1849.
Had a son The Rev. Godfrey Harry Arkwright. Born 10/10/1814. Died 17/12/1866.

In her day she was a famous actress.


1919 Sale Document



Manorial Coat of Arms

A Ghostly Sutton Hall
Back to content