Monday 31 August 2020

Remains of Parlington.

Our Catholic History Walk last Saturday went ahead, partly due to the lovely weather we had that morning. Our destination was the old estate of Parlington Hall, just to the south of Aberford. This house had been the seat of the Gascoigne family from the mid 1500s up to the beginning of the twentieth century. The Gasgoignes had moved here from their original house, the remains of which are in the grounds of Harewood House, north of Leeds. The family had been Catholic from the early days until 1780, when Thomas Gascoigne became and Anglican so that he could become an MP.

Parlington Hall was abandoned by the family at the start of the twentieth century and was finally demolished in the 1950s. The house had been remodelled in the 1700s, but there is no evidence now to give indications about is medieval origins. This photo shows the house as it was at the end of the nineteenth century. 

We all parked on the south end of Aberford village on the old Great North Road, close by the Gascoigne Almshouses.

These were built in 1844 by Elizabeth Gascoigne for two men and two women who had worked on the estate. They are now used as offices.
A little further up on the other side of the road is the former Catholic chapel of St Wilfred. This chapel was built by the Gascoigne for local Catholics in 1788, together with a presbytery. I think that it was served by priests from Ampleforth Abbey up until the 1980s when it was sold. It is now a private house.

We found the old main entrance to the Parlington Estate and walked up the lane. Here we caught a view to where the old house had stood.
And so we arrived at the famous and unique monumental arch. This was built by Thomas Gascoigne to celebrate the American victory in its War of Independence. The inscription reads: "Liberty in N America Triumphant 1783". There is no other monument to the American victory in this country. One day, the Prince Regent, who was coming to Parlington for lunch, stopped to view the arch and had his carriage turned round and drove off to find lunch elsewhere!

We walked back down Parlington Lane, crossed the Cock Beck and walked over to the site of Becca Banks. This Ancient Briton fortification, part of the extensive earthwork defences of the Kingdom of Elmet, was perhaps created to stop the Roman invaders. Perhaps its builders and defenders were not Catholics, but all of us we were interested to see it for the first time. It would have been more impressive to see without the tree cover.

Our next walk will be on the last Saturday in September, weather and virus protocols permitting. We have yet to decide upon a destination.

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