Nostalgia with Margaret Watson: The Marlborough House Story


MARLBOROUGH SCHOOL: Children stand outside Marlborough House which by this time had been converted into a private school known as Marlborough School.  Many of his students would later become students of the Wheelwright Grammar School located just across the road.
MARLBOROUGH SCHOOL: Children stand outside Marlborough House which by this time had been converted into a private school known as Marlborough School. Many of his students would later become students of the Wheelwright Grammar School located just across the road.

Researching the history of the homes that the wealthy Dewsbury once lived in is a topic that goes on and on because there were so many.

Wealthy mill owners wanted to live near their factories, but not too close to see their workers pass by. For this reason, they made sure that their homes were well away from main roads and protected by private roads and wrought iron gates. Some even had a porter’s lodge at the entrance as additional protection, and the land was so vast that it was later purchased by the local authority to build municipal estates there.

A large private estate that was sold in 1920 was the Marlborough Estate, the entrance to which was accessible from Halifax Road. Marlborough House is still standing, as are six large detached houses that were part of the estate. The five acres of land it stood on would later become part of Batley Carr Park and the bowling green. The last private owner of the estate was a local magistrate named Duke Fox esquire, whose parents sold it on his death in 1920.

Marlborough House and the other Marlborough Terrace houses have been known to me all my life, as a child I spent it every day on my way to St Joseph’s School in Batley Carr.

The house, when I first knew it in the early 1940s, had been converted into a private school run by Mrs. Sadler, wife of Mr. Leslie Sadler, principal of the Wheelwright Grammar School.

At that time there were no wrought iron gates to protect it from the public, but there was still the porter’s lodge at the entrance to Halifax Road. The lodge, which is still there, has been unoccupied for years, but I noticed the other day that someone was working there, a sign that it might soon be occupied again.

When I was young there were no barriers protecting this beautiful thoroughfare and people crossed it to access the upper end of Batley Carr Park. It was a trip I took often with my mother, whose Saturday occupation was walking down Halifax Road to see all the big houses and their beautiful gardens. She always took me with her and our last stop was always Marlborough Terrace, where we stopped to rest on one of the park benches nearby.

Mother never had her wish to see the inside of any of them, but I did so many years later, and I’m happy to say that the interior would have met all of her expectations.

Later, as a young journalist, I was also able to learn more about its history and how the Marlborough Estate was purchased in 1910, as an investment from the trustees of a local charity – the Dewsbury Schools Endowed Trust. The trust still exists and does a great job, and I hope to write more about it in the future.

When the Marlborough Estate was first marketed, the auctioneer chosen to handle the case was Mr. Herbert Pickersgill. The ad he placed in the Reporter about his sale described it as follows:

“A very select and charming freehold estate, situated in a secluded position less than a mile from the market square and train stations.

“It consists of an extremely well-appointed and modern men’s residence, known as Marlborough House, as well as six very attractive residential terraced houses, known as Marlborough Terrace. These all benefit from a southerly aspect and are approached by a long horse-drawn carriage ride, and stand amidst choice gardens and park-like grounds, totaling over six acres. The outbuildings include excellent stables and garage, a stone keeper’s lodge, three cottages and various small buildings. The domain will be offered in a single lot, and in the absence of sale, it will be offered as follows:

“Lot 1 – a valuable freehold property of a very substantially stone built and well appointed men’s residence known as Marlborough House. The accommodation comprises a dining room, a living room, a breakfast room, five bedrooms, a dressing room, a fully equipped bathroom, an excellent kitchen, a pantry and a spacious cellar. All the rooms are extremely large, very tall and remarkably well lit, and the interior fittings are of a superior character and in keeping with the structure.

“The outbuildings include a well-appointed stable for four horses, a large double shed or garage with fireplace, a large harness room and a hayloft above. There is also a well equipped utility room and outdoor convenience. Electric lighting, gas and telephone are connected to the house, and the prime gardens are located on the south and east side of the house. They include ornamental lawns with flower beds and edging, and a large sunken tennis lawn with gravel walkways and intertwined shrubs. There is a good vegetable garden and an excellent park-like enclosure that is well protected by a belt of fully grown trees, all comprising an area of ​​six acres.

The six terraced houses mentioned above as well as three stone cottages facing Halifax Road which had large gardens and an orchard to the rear, all comprising 4,676 square meters were also sold as part of the estate. This has been described by Mr. Pickersgill as a most desirable lot for a nursery or market gardener, its location being a great feature.

It’s hard to believe that all of these beautiful surroundings were within walking distance of a bustling city center.

While we don’t have a full picture of Marlborough House, the above photograph of children standing on the steps outside gives us an idea of ​​what it looked like.

We can see the living painted walls of the front of the house and the beautiful gardens and steps approaching the house, as well as the masses of delphiniums growing there.


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