Norwood House was built in the late 1750s by Jonathan Midgley, a successful lawyer and three times Mayor of Beverley, in East Yorkshire. Originally erected beside the Beverley Assembly Rooms, the centre of the social life in the town, it was in effect a country house set in parkland, but scaled down to fit onto a town site.
The Drawing Room has an important Rococo ceiling based on Colen Campbell’s design for a ceiling for Compton Place, Eastbourne. Palladian overdoor and marble mantel with stucco overmantel containing a composition of cherubs’ heads. The stucco work is in the style of Joseph Page of Hull. The doorcases are derived from a plate in William Kent’s Designs of Inigo Jones.
When Midgley died in 1778 his estate passed to his wife and eventually to his youngest daughter Mary. She had married William Beverley from Virginia in North America, a cousin of George Washington. William also became Mayor of Beverley and later Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the East Riding. He was a supporter of William Wilberforce in his opposition to the slave trade and held strong liberal views.
It was during Beverley’s occupation that the house and estate were enlarged and various alterations were carried out. In 1825 the NE wing was added with its magnificent neo-Grecian style Library. It is possibly at the same time that the Drawing Room windows on the garden front were lowered and a wider opening made between this room and the one in front. William became insolvent, however and was forced to flee the country in 1833, dying in Paris ten years later.
Norwood House was sold to Henry Broadley, who was MP for the East Riding, and it was occupied by his sister Sophia. At his death in 1851 she moved out and the house was let to a series of tenants for the next fifty years.
In 1907 the house and garden was bought by the East Riding County Council for the building of a new High School for Girls. Several alterations took place, including the replacement of the original SE wing and a new kitchen, built between this and the Library. Having once housed a number of boarders the need diminished as public transport in the area improved and the role of the house changed. It was used for a time as a Sixth Form Centre and the Library continued to be used as such until 2000. The house has been empty for the last ten years.
The house was sold to the Brantingham Group in 2009 after a voluntary group, Norwood House Ltd., had failed to find a commercial use for the building. Fortunately it has now emerged as a very successful restaurant and tea rooms.
I was asked to provide advice on some technical issues and to suggest appropriate paint colours and types.
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